Hike & Go Seek – Hampta Pass – India

alt text

Hamta Pass lies at an altitude of 4270 m (14039 ft) on the Pir Panjal range in the Himalayas. It is a small corridor between Lahaul’s Chandra Valley and Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. The nomenclature of the trek was derived from Hamta Village, located below Sethan village, as part of the trek route. This pass is frequently used by shepherds of the lower Himalayan region, seeking high altitude grasslands in the summer, when the dry cold desert of Lahaul is barren.

Numbers of wildflowers and herbs grow at the altitude between 3000 to 3800 m. Vertical rock walls, waterfalls, hanging glaciers, pinewoods, rhododendron forests, open meadows, tiny lakes and peaks rising above 6000 m are the main characteristics of this trek. The trek begins in the green Kullu valley and crosses over, through Hamta Pass, into the drier region of Lahaul.

The trek takes climbers over glaciers, fast-flowing rivers, and challenging terrain, but is nevertheless regarded as suitable for fit beginners. Beyond Hamta Pass, trekkers can choose to extend their trek towards the beautiful Chandrataal lake.

The nearest hub is Manali, in Himachal Pradesh. Most itineraries include transport from Manali to Jobri, from where the trek begins. Depending on the trek itinerary, it takes 3–4 days to complete the trek. Some of the stops are naturally done at Chika, Balu ka Gera, Chatru, etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamta_Pass

 

 

Trekking Arizona – Yuma AZ – East Wetland Park — Inside A Soul

East Wetlands Trail 2.7.2020

The month of February was an active one for me, as I was exploring the beauty of the Desert South West in Arizona. First weekend of February, I walked around the trails of the East and West Wetland park, an easy trail that travels through hummingbird exhibits, burrowing owl exhibits, along the Colorado river. A small piece of nature in Downtown Yuma AZ, where the city began. Check it out if you are in the Yuma Area! Great for family trips, children and grown-ups of all ages. If you go to the Castle Park, be careful with the Duck pond, as there are some geese there who are not nice! Haha, enjoy, stay tuned. Travel, hike and enjoy nature, wherever you are. Even the cities have a beauty about them, nature still exists.

Alltrails is a great app to download to look up hiking trails in your area. Just a tip!

“East Wetlands Interpretive Trail is a 2.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Yuma, Arizona that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail. ” Quote from Alltrails

DSC09666_thumb[1]

11-yuma-east-wetlands-beartracksblog

beartracks blog on wordpress

Common wild life include: Wild cats, coyote, variety of birds, Beaver, and more. Not often you’ll see a coyote or bob cat though!

The East trail follows along the Colorado river:

Beginning of trail is Prison Hill

YCNHA-0564

Colorado river view from visityuma.com

IMG_1077(1)

Pivot Point

PIVOT-POINT-1edited

There is also the West Wetlands park, that has a Castle park and an easy walking path along the duck pond, where you can fish too.

visityuma.com

There is an easy path to follow along the Westland park as well, that leads you to humming bird and burrowing owl exhibits:

537a9c4600317.image

DSC09598_thumb1

DSC09643_thumb1

 

via Trekking Arizona – Yuma AZ – East Wetland Park — Inside A Soul

Early Spring Photos: Indiana — recycled paper clips

Canadian Wild Ginger. Dragon of the plant world.
Mayapple shoots. Invasive Multiflora Rose in the top left.
Scarlet Elfcup, one of the most brilliantly colored mushrooms!

And now for an embarrassing story…the “corn flake mushroom,” as I called it in my head, turns out to be, after months of frustrating research (well, really just hours over the course of a couple months) the extremely common… Crowded Parchment Fungus, considered by mushroomexpert.com to be “the most common, ubiquitous, ever-present, lost-all-luster fungus among us.” Why was it so hard for me to identify such a common mushroom? Well, compare the picture on the left (from my mushroom book) with the photo I took:

In the picture from my book the caps are fused creating what looks like a crust fungus. In my sample, the caps are distinct, corn-flaky. Mushroom hunters beware: fungi are Protean!

via Early Spring Photos: Indiana — recycled paper clips

Birding in the Midwest

Image result for quotes about birds

Beautiful Birds of the Midwest 

The every popular Western Meadowlark.  The western meadowlark has distinctive calls described as watery or flute-like, which distinguish it from the closely related eastern meadowlark. The western meadowlark is the state bird of six states: Montana, Kansas, NebraskaNorth Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming.

 

Female Mergus merganser americanus at Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds.jpg

The Hooded and Common Merganser.  In most places, the common merganser is as much a frequenter of salt water as fresh water. In larger streams and rivers, they float down with the stream for a few miles, and either fly back again or more commonly fish their way back, diving incessantly the whole way. In smaller streams, they are present in pairs or smaller groups, and they float down, twisting round and round in the rapids, or fishing vigorously in a deep pool near the foot of a waterfall or rapid. When floating leisurely, they position themselves in water similar to ducks, but they also swim deep in water like cormorants, especially when swimming upstream. They often sit on a rock in the middle of the water, similar to cormorants, often half-opening their wings to the sun. To rise from water, they flap along the surface for many yards. Once they are airborne, the flight is strong and rapid. They often fish in a group forming a semicircle and driving the fish into shallow water, where they are captured easily. Their ordinary voice is a low, harsh croak, but during the breeding season, they (including the young) make a plaintive, soft whistle. Generally, they are wary, and one or more birds stay on sentry duty to warn the flock of approaching danger. When disturbed, they often disgorge food before moving. Though they move clumsily on land, they resort to running when pressed, assuming a very upright position similar to penguins, and falling and stumbling frequently.

 

The Ruffed Grouse.  Ruffed grouse have two distinct morphs: grey and brown. In the grey morph, the head, neck and back are grey-brown; the breast is light with barring. There is much white on the underside and flanks, and overall the birds have a variegated appearance; the throat is often distinctly lighter. The tail is essentially the same brownish grey, with regular barring and a broad black band near the end (“subterminal”). Brown-morph birds have tails of the same color and pattern, but the rest of the plumage is much more brown, giving the appearance of a more uniform bird with less light plumage below and a conspicuously grey tail. There are all sorts of intergrades between the most typical morphs; warmer and more humid conditions favor browner birds in general.

Displaying male

The ruffs are on the sides of the neck in both sexes. They also have a crest on top of their head, which sometimes lies flat. Both genders are similarly marked and sized, making them difficult to tell apart, even in hand. The female often has a broken subterminal tail band, while males tend to have unbroken tail bands, though the opposite of either can occur. Females may also do a display similar to the male. Another fairly accurate sign is that rump feathers with a single white dot indicate a female; rump feathers with more than one white dot indicate a male.

Grèbejougrisparade.jpg

The red-necked grebe is a migratory aquatic bird found in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Its wintering habitat is largely restricted to calm waters just beyond the waves around ocean coasts, although some birds may winter on large lakes. Grebes prefer shallow bodies of fresh water such as lakes, marshes or fish-ponds as breeding sites.

The red-necked grebe is a nondescript dusky-grey bird in winter. During the breeding season, it acquires the distinctive red neck plumage, black cap and contrasting pale grey face from which its name was derived. It also has an elaborate courtship display and a variety of loud mating calls. Once paired, it builds a nest from water plants on top of floating vegetation in a shallow lake or bog.

 

         1591934060

   National Geographic Birds               Birds of the Midwest

 

The barred owl, also known as northern barred owl or hoot owl, is a true owl native to eastern North America. Adults are large, and are brown to grey with barring on the chest. Barred owls have expanded their range to the west coast of North America, where they are considered invasive.

The common loon or great northern diver is a large member of the loon, or diver, family of birds. Breeding adults have a plumage that includes a broad black head and neck with a greenish, purplish, or bluish sheen, blackish or blackish-grey upperparts, and pure white underparts except some black on the undertail coverts and vent. Non-breeding adults are brownish with a dark neck and head marked with dark grey-brown. Their upperparts are dark brownish-grey with an unclear pattern of squares on the shoulders, and the underparts, lower face, chin, and throat are whitish. The sexes look alike, though males are significantly heavier than females.

 

 

Nature’s Silent Message

Nature's Silent

Nature’s Silent Message

Just released March 20, 2020.  A sign of the times?  Maybe….

The Earth is trying to teach us to live better. To lead richer, happier lives.

Will we continue down the limited path of the mechanical mind?

Or will we tune into ultimate intelligence? The same intelligence that allows blood to flow through our veins, bees to pollinate flowers, birds to fly south, salmon to spawn, whales to migrate, caterpillars to become butterflies, the Earth to rotate, the moon to orbit, and the rest of nature to function perfectly of its own accord?

We have access to nature’s silent message—if we take the time to listen.

In this spellbinding collection, Stillman guides us from the lush forests of the North Cascades, through the sandstone slot canyons of Utah, and into the border country of extreme southern Arizona. In this classroom, we learn not from books, nor words, nor lectures. Wilderness is the school of life, where we learn not from that which thinks—but that which knows.

Nature’s Silent Message suggests the existence of something far greater than what we see on the surface. It’s about breaking through old patterns so that new ones may emerge.

The message is simple and pure, but when you try to define it, it vanishes into thin air. And in that vanishing, you find it again. Like a beautiful butterfly that can never be caught. Try and catch her and she’ll drive you mad, eluding you forever. But learn to fly with her, and all the wonders of the world will be shown, and all the answers to your questions be known.

https://amzn.to/3dCXRW3

 

Hike & Go Seek – Morman Pioneer National Historic Trail

A pointed bluff landmark sticks out above a flat valley with large green shrubs.

Covering Five States (IL, IA, NE, UT, WY)

Explore the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail across five states to see the 1,300-mile route traveled by Mormons who fled Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1846-1847

Martins Cove, Wyoming

A Brief History

The story of the Mormon Trail is rooted in the beginnings of a unique American religion. In 1827, 21-year-old Joseph Smith announced that he had unearthed a set of golden plates, inscribed with the tenants of God’s true church. Smith said that he had been directed to the plates by an angel named Moroni, who also had given him divine tools for translating the ancient inscriptions into English. Smith used these to produce new Scripture called the Book of Mormon. In 1830, in western New York, he organized a legal entity that would become The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His followers, who regarded Smith as a prophet, became known as Mormons.

Important differences between mainstream Christianity and Mormon doctrine quickly emerged, but it was primarily hostilities over land, business, and politics that caused Smith repeatedly to move church headquarters. Driven out of Missouri in 1838, the Mormons finally settled along a bend of the Mississippi River in Illinois. There they established a community they called Nauvoo, a Hebrew word meaning “beautiful place.” It was at Nauvoo that Smith cautiously began introducing the Old Testament practice of “plural marriage,” or polygamy, among select church leaders.

Thousands of converts flocked to Nauvoo, soon making it the largest town in Illinois. Neighbors initially welcomed the orderly, industrious settlers despite their religious differences. But relations gradually soured, with complaints centering on Mormons’ clannish business practices, accusations of theft, their electoral sway, and Smith’s political aspirations. Meanwhile, dissent emerged within the church as rumors leaked of secret plural marriages. After an opposition newspaper publicly accused the prophet and other leaders of polygamy, Nauvoo’s city council and Smith declared the paper a public nuisance and Smith ordered destruction of its press. For that he and others were arrested and jailed at Carthage, Illinois. On June 27, 1844, a mob broke into the jail and murdered Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Other vigilantes attacked Mormon farms around Nauvoo in an attempt to expel them.

Brigham Young stepped up as Smith’s successor and began planning an orderly, spring 1846 evacuation of some 15,000 faithful to the Great Basin, Mexican-held territory beyond the Rocky Mountains. However, as anti-Mormon violence heated, Young decided to organize a vanguard of church leaders to depart in late winter, hoping that would pacify the vigilantes until the main body of Mormons could start west in April. On February 4, 1846, the first wagons ferried across the Mississippi to Iowa. This group halted after five miles and set up camp at Sugar Creek for a lengthy wait as Young and his associates concluded business at Nauvoo. Meanwhile others, anxious not to be left behind, drifted over to join the Sugar Creek camp. Young’s vanguard company unexpectedly swelled from his intended 1,800 emigrants to around 3,000—many without their own wagons and provisions.

https://www.nps.gov/mopi/index.htm

Connecting with nature through birding

cardinal-kansasphoto-580

A rewilding, brought about first through neglect and now through intentional human effort, is occurring on all over the world and certainly here in the Midwest. Over the years, I have discovered unique beauties on ambling adventures along the Wisconsin and Michigan Shoreline, and even in the heart the city…downtown Chicago.

 

The early interest in observing birds for their aesthetic rather than utilitarian (mainly food) value is traced to the late 18th century in the works of Gilbert White, Thomas Bewick, George Montagu and John Clare   The study of birds and natural history in general became increasingly prevalent in Britain during the Victorian Era, often associated with collection, eggs and later skins being the artifacts of interest. Wealthy collectors made use of their contacts in the colonies to obtain specimens from around the world. It was only in the late 19th century that the call for bird protection began leading to the rising popularity of observations on living birds. The Audubon Society was started to protect birds from the growing trade in feathers in the United States while the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds began in Britain.

Birding in North America was focused in the early and mid-20th century in the eastern seaboard region, and was influenced by the works of Ludlow Griscom and later Roger Tory Peterson. Bird Neighbors (1897) by Neltje Blanchan was an early birding book which sold over 250,000 copies. It was illustrated with color photographs of stuffed birds.

 

Here is a great resource if you like birding:  

  National Geographic Birds 

Beautiful Trees of the Upper Midwest

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir      The Eight Wilderness Discovery Books

 

Fraxinus americana 002.jpg

The ash derives from the glaucous undersides of the leaves. It is similar in appearance to the green ash, making identification difficult. The lower sides of the leaves of white ash are lighter in color than their upper sides, and the outer surface of the twigs of white ash may be flaky or peeling. Green ash leaves are similar in color on upper and lower sides, and twigs are smoother. White Ash leaves turn yellow or red in Autumn. Despite some overlap, the two species tend to grow in different locations as well; white ash is a forest tree that commonly occurs alongside sugar maple while green ash is a pioneer species that inhabits riparian zones and disturbed areas.  Its compound leaves more often than not have 7 leaflets per leaf whereas other ash trees are usually more diverse.

 

The tree species Aesculus glabra is commonly known as Ohio buckeyeAmerican buckeye, or fetid buckeye.

It is native primarily to the Midwestern and lower Great Plains regions of the United States, extending southeast into the Nashville Basin. ] It is also found locally in the extreme southwest of Ontario, on Walpole Island in Lake St. Clair, and in isolated but large populations in the South.   It is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 15 to 25 m (49 to 82 ft) tall.

The leaves are palmately compound with five 8–16 cm (3.1–6.3 in) long and broad. The flowers are produced in panicles in spring, red, yellow to yellow-green  long with the stamens longer than the petals (unlike the related yellow buckeye, where the stamens are shorter than the petals).

The inedible seeds contain tannic acid and are poisonous to both cattle  and humans. The young foliage of the tree is also poisonous.

 

Native Trees of the Midwest 

Quercus rubra @ Tortworth Court.jpg

Quercus rubra, the northern red oak, is an oak tree in the red oak group.  It is a native of North America, in the eastern and central United States and southeast and south-central Canada. It grows from the north end of the Great Lakes, east to Nova Scotia, south as far as Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, and west to Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota.  It has been introduced to small areas in Western Europe, where it can frequently be seen cultivated in gardens and parks. It prefers good soil that is slightly acidic. Often simply called red oak, northern red oak is so named to distinguish it from southern red oak.

 

10 Austree Hybrid Willow Trees, Fastest Growing Shade or Privacy Tree – Austree Hybrid Willow Tree – 10 Live Trees

 

Pinus resinosa.jpg

Pinus resinosa, known as red pine or Norway pine, is a pine native to North America. It occurs from Newfoundland west to Manitoba, and south to Pennsylvania, with several smaller, disjunct populations occurring in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and West Virginia, as well as a few small pockets in extreme northern New Jersey and northern Illinois.

The red pine is the state tree of Minnesota. In Minnesota the use of the name “Norway” may stem from early Scandinavian immigrants who likened the red pines to forests back home.

https://amzn.to/2Up3u2n

 

https://amzn.to/2Up3u2n

 

https://amzn.to/2Up3u2n

Hike & Go Seek – Wauponsee Glacial Trail

Image result for wauponsee glacial trail in winter

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure one of them is dirt”  – John Muir (Essential Muir – A collection of Muir’s Writings)

The Wauponsee Glacial Trail of Illinois

Trail History

The 275-acre Wauponsee Glacial Trail was acquired between 2004 and 2016.

Prior to the District’s acquisition of the land, it was two abandoned railroads: Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific from Joliet to Manhattan and the Wabash/Norfolk Southern from Manhattan to Custer Park.

The Trail

The Wauponsee Glacial Trail is a 22.42-mile paved/crushed limestone linear trail consisting of two segments.

The northern segment of the trail travels 2.80 miles from Sugar Creek Preserve north to Rowell Avenue in Joliet. This flat, paved segment of the trail travels through woodland, prairie and wetland.

The southern segment of the trail extends an additional 19.62 miles from Sugar Creek Preserve south to the Kankakee River. This flat, crushed limestone segment of the trail travels through prairie. It is ideal for the following activities:

You will cross bridges and  you might even see some wild turkeys…

Image result for wauponsee glacial trail

Image result for wauponsee glacial trail

For some great resources:

168268265X      

America’s Best Day Hikes       Great Hiking Trails of the World

 

https://www.reconnectwithnature.org/preserves-trails/trails/wauponsee-glacial-trail

Birding in Minnesota

This list of birds of Minnesota includes species documented in the U.S. state of Minnesota and accepted by the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee (MOURC). As of the end of 2018, there are 444 species included in the official list.   Of them, 87 are classed as accidental, 39 are classed as casual, eight have been introduced to North America, two are extinct, and one has been extirpated.

The barred owl, also known as northern barred owl or hoot owl, is a true owl native to eastern North America. Adults are large, and are brown to grey with barring on the chest. Barred owls have expanded their range to the west coast of North America, where they are considered invasive.

The common loon or great northern diver is a large member of the loon, or diver, family of birds. Breeding adults have a plumage that includes a broad black head and neck with a greenish, purplish, or bluish sheen, blackish or blackish-grey upperparts, and pure white underparts except some black on the undertail coverts and vent. Non-breeding adults are brownish with a dark neck and head marked with dark grey-brown. Their upperparts are dark brownish-grey with an unclear pattern of squares on the shoulders, and the underparts, lower face, chin, and throat are whitish. The sexes look alike, though males are significantly heavier than females.

Here are some good resources if you like birding:

           

  National Geographic Birds                          Birds of Minnesota