Friday, December 31, 2010

Rock Cut State Park 12-31-10

Me and Wilma went out for our last hike this year. It was a dreary and foggy day, but almost 50 degrees, so pretty nice hiking weather.

We went west from the dam along the Willow Creek Bike path and then headed north on a horse trail that parallels the Perryville bike path up to Hart Road. Then east to the main park road and south on the road back to where we parked.

An hour and 50 minutes. Maybe a little over 3 miles. Most of the hike was on pavement so went pretty easy, but the horse trail segment was muddy, wet, snowy, icy, and mucky in a lot of places, so was kind of slow going.

We barely made it back before they close the park and let loose the vampire deer that roam the park at night.

Part 1

Part 2

[update 1-3-11]
I emailed the park and asked if the horse trails crossing Hart Road are open to hiking. I got a response back that the trails south of Hart Road are Ok for hiking. They also confirmed that the honey sold as Rock Cut Honey does indeed come from the beehives I saw just off Hart Road.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rock Cut State Park 12-30-10

We went for another hike today. It started off on the same trail we took yesterday, and then we went east on Hart Road until we had to turn off because it turns into a ski trail. We went down to the lake through the camp ground which seemed to be empty and picked up the trail that goes along the lake back to the parking lot.

About an hour and 50 minutes. I'd guess two and a half miles. Slow going in the snow. But we had fun, got some fresh air, and exercise, and Wilma got to play in a lot of snow.

I noted yesterday that both trail heads to the horse trails near the north park entrance are signed as being ski trails. I wondered if maybe I could get to the horse trails and walk them from the horse camp side so on our way home I drove there and took a look. They are also signed for skiing. I guess I am out of luck. I did notice the horse trails that cross Hart Road had the gates closed. But no signs restricting them to skiing, and they had boot prints in the snow, so maybe they are hikable.

There are lots of trails to choose from so it's not that big of a deal. I can't walk real far in the snow anyway. It's a lot more work and takes a lot longer then normal.

WalMart Faded Glory Boot Socks

I was at WalMart last week and happened to go past the men's sock aisle and saw these. I was a little suspicious, as they are labeled for shoe size 6-12 and often WalMart stuff seems to run a little small, and I am a 13W shoe size. But, they looked like they might fit so I bought a package, because I wanted some more warm socks.

These are labeled as 63% poly, 24% acrylic, 11% wool, and 2% other. I wore the two pairs I bought. They did indeed fit pretty well, and they were comfy and warm. A bargain at $5/pkg of 2. So I got two more packages today.

Made in China of course. But a deal IMO. Don't know how long they will last, but at $2.50 a pair, even if they don't last real long, they are worth buying.

WalMart Ground Coffee Dark Roast

Walmart stopped carrying the ground coffee I had been using that I really liked, so I figured I would try some of this. I think it is $6.00 a can. It's pretty good. Not as good as the stuff I was using, but good. I am on my 3rd or 4th can now.  My wife got me a couple smaller cans to start out with, just to see if I liked it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

rock cut state park 12-29-10

It's been over a month since our last hike. We went for a short hike in the snow. Maybe 1.5 miles, about half of it on a paved road. Took about an hour and 20 minutes. Walking in/on the snow is slow and a lot of work. It was nice to get out and get some forest time again after so long.

For some reason on the first snippet the camera would not focus, or was focusing randomly. The narration is OK though. But it's a long minute or so to watch.

Part 1

Part 2

Saturday, December 18, 2010

some recent photos

12-5-10 Taken after Wilma and I got back from our morning walk. I had about an inch of snow on the bill of my cap. Not a real great cell phone picture. I think the cell phone was too close.

12-7-10 Taken about 5:40 am in a grocery store parking lot that we walk through regularly. Wilma stopped to play on the snow banks. The parking lot lights are bright enough to take quite good cell phone pictures.

12-12-10 One of my favorite Christmas ornaments, after the 4 beagle ornaments. I have a beagle ornament for each of the beagles that has shared my life - Samantha, Fredrica, Princess (aka Woofie), and now Wilma.

12-15-10 Wilma believes in Santa. She is a pretty good sport about being dressed up by my wife.

[added]12-24-10 It was snowing some this morning during our walk. Some snow got on my day pack.

Brave or dumb - you make the call

It has been cold here. I went to my regular bullseye league Tuesday night. The unheated range has concrete floors that just sucked the heat right out of my feet. I need to remember to wear warmer boots next time it is this cold. There were a total of six of us brave or dumb enough to go shooting last night. Five of us had electric heating pads to set our guns on. Warm guns and ammo function a lot better than cold ones do.

My fingers did not always work real well in the cold, but better holding a warm gun than one that is below zero.

For various reasons, including the weather and my work schedule, the beagle and I have not been able to do any hiking in the forests lately. Hopefully, the weather and my work schedule will allow some hiking in the near future. It's been cold enough lately that we did not even go for our usual morning walk several days.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Annual gun club meeting last night

I am a life member of local gun club. I have been a member since 1982. I went to the annual meeting last night. It might well have been the last annual meeting. I won't bore you with the story, because it's a club matter, but things were bad, and could have gone to much worse if not dealt with in a strong way. I feared that if the club did not get together and deal with a particular problem (a person really) that there just would not be a club much longer.

Well, I have to say I am very, very proud of my fellow club members. They came through and we stood together and dealt with the problem, in a very convincing fashion. I have never seen this many people at the club before. The parking lot was packed and there were cars parked up and down both sides of the street for at least a block in both directions.

The problem was dealt with by a vote of 113 to 34. A complete and utter repudiation of the problem. Without the need for tar and feathers. Roberts Rules of Order was a big part of it, and knowing how to use it to deal with the problem. I never quite appreciated how rules of order like that can actually work to allow people to deal with a problem in an orderly way. It was a good lesson.

I know that just because the biggest impediment was dealt with does not mean it will be smooth sailing down the road, but it was really good to see what can happen when good people stand together. We will have a lot of work to undo the damage already done, but 113-34 is a great way to start that work.

Before the meeting I shot in the weekly bullseye league as I do every week. it was down right cold. There were seven of us. Three of us brought heating pads to set our guns, mags, and ammo on. Much easier to shoot with a warmer gun, and the gun functions a lot better that way.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bite valve froze up this morning

It was bound to happen. I have been putting my day pack on and walking the dog with the pack on every morning. If nothing else it is a convenient way to carry my water and to get used to the pack. I would almost feel naked without it now.

I realized as it got colder that I might have issues with the bite valve and or drinking tube freezing up so I have been training myself to drain the tube back into the bladder and making sure the bite valve is clear of water so there is nothing to freeze up.

I guess I did not train myself well enough, because the bite valve froze up on me this morning. I was able to unfreeze it by holding it in my mouth for about 30 seconds. Hopefully it is a lesson I won't soon forget.

A vivid illustration of why a metal water bottle or canteen might be a better choice in cold weather than a bladder, as the metal container can be heated up in a fire to melt the water if it freezes. I may have to consider getting some SS bottles for winter hiking.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

rock cut state park 11-25-10

I have decided to just make the trail map part of the video. It's just simpler that way. It's kind of time consuming stitching these video snippets together and having to upload a JPG to photobucket and then link to it is extra work. If there is some special reason to have an image separately, I will, such as if it needs to be high resolution.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

rock cut state park 11-24-10

I was planning to hike a bit longer but it started to sprinkle on us, so we went back to the car.

It started raining on us while we were out on the trail so I got the orange poncho out of its baggie and put it on. It worked about as well as I expected. It kept the top half of me and my day pack dry. It was not raining real hard so it was not the most stringent of tests.

The hood tore because it was too small to go over my cap. It just barely goes over my head. I guess the hat will have to go over the hood. I also experienced a small tear along one side, and a longer tear on the same side. Neither of these tears ended up being an issue.

My sleeves got wet, but not to the point that it soaked through the nylon. It would have been more of an issue if it had been raining harder, or windier, or I was out in the rain longer.

Overall, I rate it adequate to get me back to the car from out on the trail a mile or so out without getting excessively wet.

It did strengthen my desire to get a real poncho though. This is just not adequate for anything serious.

I taped it back together in case I need it again and have not yet acquired a real poncho.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Turkeys at Rock Cut State Park

Filmed by my wife Fran as we were leaving the park.

Hiking stick fail

update to

I guess I will go back to a spade handle. It sounded like a good idea at the time to have a stick that could be taken down, but it was just not as sturdy. I got some good use out of it, but I am real glad it did not fail at a more inopportune time, like when I was half way up or down some steep trail section.

Rock Cut State Park 11-21-10

Today's hike was at Rock Cut State Park.

I suspect most of the trails we were on are not on the map. We entered the SW quadrant of the park from the observation deck and headed through the forest generally southwest, went almost all the way to the far SW corner of the park, then went back north to the Willow Creek Bike Path and headed east to lake View.

I am not real sure that I placed the quarry or the old shelter on the trail map in the right spot, but I think this is about where they are.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nesco food dehydrator

I decided to give it a test with some frozen broccoli and cauliflower.

The results were not ideal, but might be adequate for making backpacking food.

Perhaps I dried them too much, but I could not get them to rehydrate even close to the amount of water that was driven off. Even so the rehydrated veggies were edible.

I did not show it in the video or pictures but I put a meat thermometer inside the thing. It showed the temperature where the probe was at was about 150 degrees F.

Kinnikinnick Creek 11-20-10

ETA: Our previous visit

Today we went to Boone county to the Kinnikinnic Creek conservation area to hike the horse trail.

I wanted to hike another trail there that I am told is especially nice but is not shown on the trail map. Despite not being on the trail map there actually is a trail head sign for it. I wonder why it is not shown on the trail map. I am told the trail goes for about 3/4 of a mile and then just stops and you either have to bushwhack it for a couple hundred yards or turn around and go back. In any case, it got too late to try that trail. It will be something for another day.

We started at the horse parking area and followed the horse trail around the perimeter of the park in a CCW direction. It took us just over 2.5 hours to hike the 3.5 miles. Lots of elevation changes. It's almost constantly going either up or down. But I like that kind of hiking. I am not there to go as far as I can as fast as I can. Just out to get some exercise, fresh air, and some time to clear my head out.

BTW, I told my wife about the dog we saw running in the park. She said she saw a dog wearing an orange coat in a car leaving the park with two guys who had orange hats on. So, I guess the dog found his humans, or maybe the humans were just farther down the hiking trail where I could not see them.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sugar River FP 11-14-10

It was kind of windy and cool when we started, but it is mid-November. Somehow I screwed up getting video of some deer and a great blue heron. I thought I had them both, but I guess I got too excited or something. Maybe I forgot to press the record button a second time to save the recording before I shut the camera off.

It was somewhere around 3.5 miles long.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rock Cut State Park 11-7-10

I have to apologize for the poor quality video. I am new at this.

I also screwed up some of the subtitles.

This is more or less the route we took. We went west along the creek in the SW quadrant of the park starting near the deck, and then turned south and west. It does not appear that most of the trails we were on are even on the map. I doubt the little red line I drew accurately depicts our route, other than in a very general way.

It was probably about a 2.5 mile hike.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Seward Bluff Forest Preserve 11-6-10

This was a pretty good hike. I decided to use video instead of just still pictures to document our little adventure this time. I ended up with about 18 minutes of video. Unfortunately, I only had about 15 minutes available on the SD card I took with me, and I did not take a spare, so the last two clips were taken after the fact.

I am guessing the hike was a little over 5 miles long. My cell phone pedometer and the trail map both seem to support that idea.

Basically we started at the Grove Creek shelter and headed downstream (west) along the south side of the creek until the creek turned north. We followed the creek until we found the foot bridge. Then we came back along the other side of the creek.

Be advised - I seemed to be confused about what direction things were a couple of times. I realized after watching the video what I said sometimes was not really the direction I was going or something was headed. Part of the issue is the trail meanders around a lot and you can basically be going west on a trail but at any one moment in time it might be any direction. There are also a fair number of trails not shown on the trail map so it's hard to follow along the trail map while listening to the narration.

We went a little north up to the horse parking area, and then back to the road.

I am sorry for some of the poor narration. It's my first shot at this kind of thing. I will try to be more aware of some things like not saying "well" so much.

In case anyone is interested, I tried stitching the 50+ little snippets of video together with Windows Movie Maker. It was quite easy to do and the result played quite well inside Movie Maker. Alas, like many MS products, it came with a catch. No matter what, it just would not save the stitiched together movie. It would try but just crash or tell me it was out of memory. After much frustration I gave up on Movie Maker. I found something that is just as easy, is also freeware, and actually worked. It's called VideoPad.

There is at least one mistake in the narration that I noticed. In the first clip I said the trail head is not where it is shown on the map. It actually is. I was reading the map wrong. In fairness to me the map was a little confusing, but that's not really a good excuse, just an average excuse.

I sent an email to the FPD asking about the numbered sign posts. they replied saying that trail maps with the sign posts noted are available at the entrance and the horse parking area. I did not see them either place, but I never actually looked for them either. Next time I will snag one. In the meantime, I added some stuff to the trail map I got off their web site. But don't bet your life on what I marked on the trail map.

[sign pic added 11-13-10]

[11-13-10 fixed embedding]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lowden State Park 10-31-10

Lowden is a state park along the Rock River near Oregon, IL. It's claim to fame is the statue of Blackhawk on the side of a mountain. This is Blackhawk as seen from the other side of the river.

The signs at the park entrance.

We parked near the statue and took a few pictures of the statue and some of the signs in the area first.

The view of the Rock River from beneath the statue.

The roof of the outhouse by the statue was damaged in a storm 3 months ago and not repaired yet. Maybe a victim of the current financial disaster the state is in. I emailed the park superintendant and asked about it and he replied they are hoping to have it repaired by this spring. My wife said the women's side (under the damage) is locked, so women have to use the men's side.

We started out by going down the hill to the river level. There are two ways to get there. A trail made mostly of old railroad ties, or a staircase.

I chose the trail. It's not the greatest trail, and is pretty steep and somewhat overgrown, but it is passable.

This tree has fallen across the trail but it is possible to walk around it on the left hand side.

The trail becomes nice and level along the river headed south.

The sign where the Heckman and Blackhawk trails cross.

It's only maybe 100 yards down the Heckman trail to the river so we headed that way. Someone had a fire there not too long ago.

We continued along the Blackhawk trail to the road that bisects the park (north/south) and continued to the east side of the park on Pine Trail. We saw this deer carcass just inside the shrubs along the road at the entrance of Pine Trail. I emailed the park superintendent about it the next day and he said he would alert the DOT. You can't see it from the road, and it looked like it might have been there a few days.

Pine Trail starts out as a nice grassy and level lane along the edge of the pine woods. There are farm fields about 20 feet to the right and pine trees to the left.

The trail goes into the forest and becomes a kind of typical forest trail.

It starts to go uphill. There is perhaps a 200 yard stretch of it that is relatively difficult with switchbacks and pretty steep climbing. Glad for my stick. I did not take pictures of the worst of it as I was too busy trying to keep my self going up the hill. This picture is of a relatively easy part of the hill.

The worst of it did not last long and we came out into the primitive camping area. A black lab and his human came up from behind us. They were RUNNING on the trail. Wilma got a drink from a hydrant in the area.

I did something as well. I did not need to heed this particular sign, but having spent some time in Mexico a few years back, I can understand the need for it.

Wilma and I went went down the road toward the entrance on River Road and then came back to catch the trail again.

This is pretty typical of the route coming back on this side of the trail. It's not real steep, but there is quite a bit of grade change. The drop off to the left is maybe 75 feet. But it is a pretty wide trail, perhaps 10 feet or more.

We finish hiking Pine Trail and go across River Road again and head up Heckman Trail. Up is the operative word. It's 0.3 miles long according to a sign I saw, and it's up the whole way - 10-30 degree slopes. It's a gravel trail so it is not real hard to walk on or anything, but it is still up hill.

The top of Heckman Trail is near the other campground. Only a few campers. Wilma went to get some more water and then we walked back to the statue.

A nice hike. Right at 2 hours. I would guess a little over 3 miles. The park brochure says there are almost 4 miles of trails and we hiked most of them.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Indian Hill Forest Preserve 10-30-10

It's not a large FP, and the hike was probably no more than a mile and a quarter. No creek for the beagle.

We just followed the trail from the parking lot, taking the loop segment to the east first, and coming back on the west segment.

But, it was something a little different.

The trail is mostly a grass path through the forest, as shown here at the trail head.

This is where the trail forks. I guess the FPD does not do much trail maintenance on this trail, as it had a fair amount of large log type debris that I had to climb over. Or maybe they put it there deliberately to deter bikers or something.

Views fom the overlook area. I'd guess the bluff is about 50 feet above the flood plain floor in the foreground.

The bench promised by the trail map really is there. I am not sure why as there really is not much to see. The trail up to the bench is really a loop that goes out to the bench and back, and not a single trail as shown on the trail map. The two sides of the loop are never more then 50 feet apart I would guess.

I never found the section of the trail that is shown coming down off the bluff onto the flood plain. I suppose one could just try and walk down the side of the bluff. There are a few places you might be able to do it, but I was not going to try it.

More stuff across the trail. This is near the bench.

If you look closely, you can see Kishwaukee Road through the trees. This was taken coming back to the car just past the trail head. There is considerable traffic noise.

Some interesting fungus I noticed on my way out.

We also stopped by Trailside FP. It's basically just a driveway through a small wooded area that has a sign midway that says you can't go any farther because it is private property beyond the sign. Who knows what the heck that is about. Maybe the people that live past the sign did not want to maintain the driveway anymore so deeded it to the FPD or something.