Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mud Thumper: My Sangamon River Birthday Trek

This was typical of my footing along the banks of the Sangamon River as I hiked at Lake of the Woods at Mahomet. A few too many thorns also impeded my progress at some points. I began my journey by the covered bridge and headed south . . .

. . . where I eventually encountered this skeleton of a young deer along the river bank. I also found many mussell shells in this area. The Sangamon River derived its name from the Pottawatomie Indian word Sain-guee-mon, meaning literally "where there is plenty to eat." Long ago Native Americans in this area had elk, buffalo, deer, mussels, fish and other critters for food. I ate lunch at an Arby's in nearby Mahomet.

A little farther down the river, while still in Lake of the Woods Park, I came upon this hollowed-out tree. If camping were allowed in this area I would have called this huge tree home.

I saw plenty of Canada geese, and wondered why so many were in pairs. Then it occurred to me . . . duh, it's mating season. These tough geese, who seem to adapt to almost any environment, mate for life and can live to be 20 years old. This couple was quite alone in the backcountry near the river. I guess they didn't mind the pathetic mess some humans had made of the area, which was polluted with plastic containers, paint cans, old appliances, and other waste that found a convenient dumping place in areas where most people don't go. The Sangamon River is not exactly a picturesque stream; in many places fallen trees covered almost the entire width of the river. No wonder one canoeist discouraged others to avoid this area. I should have carried trash bags and a chainsaw for cleanup.

Ah, Allerton Park. A trail presents a pleasant corridor in the woods. I drove here from Mahomet (not enough time to hike), but not before I walked to the place where, long ago, buffalo crossed the Sangamon River near where Rt. 150 crosses the river today at Mahomet. The river then meanders through the country and eventually flows into Allerton Park near Monticello. I continued hiking along the river at Allerton. Much stillness in the area, deathly quiet except for occasional sounds of drilling woodpeckers. The weather was quite nice on my birthday, and by the time I got to Allerton it was near perfect.

The Death of the Last Centaur, one of my favorite stops at Allerton. This magnificent sculpture stands at the top of a hill, and I approached it from the east, where I had to climb a steep staircase to get to it.

Not many people were at Allerton this day, but I managed to find a willing victim to take my photo with the Centaur. With muddy pants and boots, and bearing a loaded camera case, binoculars and water bottles, I bid the Centaur farewell and hiked down that long corridor trail in the photos above and soaked in the beauty of my surroundings. Turning 60 wasn't so bad.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tommytrot . . .

. . . that's what I'm calling my birthday adventure as I hike tomorrow along the muddy banks of the Sangamon River. Stay tuned for photos and thrilling narrative.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Learn from This

This is why I support anyone who acts on behalf of the Yellowstone buffalo. This is tough to watch, but the story must be told.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Red Chief is 7 Today . . .

. . . and the Princess Mother has survived another year. Happy birthday, little guy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dinner Dilemma: A Tense Meeting at Yellowstone

I found this fascinating. The vegetarian buffalo seems annoyed as a wolf and a bear vie for an animal carcass.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Back from the Dead

Well, my cold went away, and so did my computer. Hard drive crashed last week, but now I'm up and running. Much to catch up on.