Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hike- Starved Rock, French Canyon, Lover's Leap, Eagles Cliff, Beehive Overlook

This morning started off a little cloudy but soon became a great day for a hike.  We had many new faces, which meant more new friends.  Some were staying at the Lodge and some came because it was something they have wanted to do for a while.  We had about 25 in attendance.  Give or take a few. 
Walker's Club heading out
We always start in the Lobby of the Lodge with a little explanation of what the hike will entail.  Today's hike was scheduled to go to the top of Starved Rock, French Canyon, Lover's Leap, Eagles Cliff and then Beehive Overlook.
Sign by Lodge
Indian and horse bronze statue
Behind the Lodge there is a staircase that leads down to the river area.  The stairway will get your heart pumping early.  150 stairs. 

Once on top of Starved Rock, Ron shared his version of the Legend of Starved Rock.

View of Lover's Leap and the Dam
Once on the top of Starved Rock there are many things to see.  Just walking around the boardwalk at the top of Starved Rock is very scenic.  I wonder if the fisherman had any luck?
Eagle Nest
Look close, closer, closer yet.  The small brown spot is an eagle's nest.  Visible from the top of Starved Rock.  Take a pair of binoculars and you will able to see the white heads popping out of the nest.
Starved Rock Lodge
I always like the way the Lodge looks on the bluff.  I also marvel at how far away it looks, when it doesn't seem that it took long to get here.  It will be barely visible in the summer time when the leaves come out.
Dog pick up bags
At various points in the park there are these Doggie Bag pick up stations.

 We (I mostly) get a little anxious in the spring when the wildflowers start to come out.  I love to see the new ones.  The maroon leaves are from last years flower.  Now we have the flowers.  After the flowers die out the plant will get green leaves which will stay all summer.  

 Hepatica is named from its leaves, which, like the human liver (Greek hepar), have three lobes. It was once used as a medicinal herb. Owing to the doctrine of signatures, the plant was once thought to be an effective treatment for liver disorders. Although poisonous in large doses, the leaves and flowers may be used as an astringent, as a demulcent for slow-healing injuries, and as a diuretic

Early beginning of Dutchman's Britches
The leaves on the Dutchman's Britches and Squirrel Corn are very similar.  Dutchman's Britches are generally first. We saw quite of few of these but they were very young.  Maybe another week they will be better.  

Going into French Canyon can be a little tricky when there is water flowing.  If you step in the steps you are fine but will get wet.  If you step in the middle, it is sometimes very slick.  The best way to get in, if you can maneuver it, is to straddle the steps and waddle yourself in.  One way in, One way out.

French Canyon
French Canyon still has ice. It is hard to tell but there is a ledge of ice that I was standing on.  I kept my distance.  See next photo.

Ice in French Canyon
Bridge by French Canyon
We were leaving French Canyon on our way to Lover's Leap and Eagles Cliff.  This bridge was underwater last year in the flood.  

Devil's Nose
In the summer time this is barely visible with all the leaves.  I showed many of the new hikers this view.  When I was younger there was a trail to this location.

Lover's Leap
What a group.  They all did a great job of getting to know one another and catching up after a very long winter.  I did share with them my two versions of the Legend of Lover's Leap.
Top of Starved Rock
While on Lover's Leap you have an excellent view of Starved Rock.

Lone Pelican
We left Lover's Leap and went on the Eagle's Cliff.  While here there was a lone pelican.  The pelicans stop here in the spring on there way back north.  And again in the fall when they go south for the winter.  Some days we will see thousands and the next day just 1 or 2.  They don't stay long, they are just taking a small break here.

Top of Eagles Cliff
From Eagles Cliff looking East, I believe this is the best view in the park.

Eagles Cliff looking North/West
River walk
Walking east along the river on the way to Beehive Overlook there is the cool sandstone formation.  Often times in the summer we see snakes warming themselves on the rocks.
Arnie and Cocoa enjoying Beehive Overlook

Bottom of Beehive
I was about in the middle of the group and asked the group to all wave. 

Back to the Lodge
After Beehive Overlook we were back to the Lodge.  And that meant back to the office for me.

Top of French
Almost back. One of my favorite places is at the top of Starved Rock. There are so many rock formations here, some with water flowing.

The trails in the park today are excellent.  No mud, no ice.  I will leave you with this:

Wherever you may hike or walk, just put one foot in front of the other.  It's all about the experience not the destination.  

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