Nature’s Secret Message – Just released yesterday

https://amzn.to/396WXxG

This book was just released yesterday.   A sign of the times. 

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/396WXxG

https://amzn.to/396WXxG

https://amzn.to/396WXxG

 

https://amzn.to/396WXxG

https://amzn.to/396WXxG

https://amzn.to/396WXxG

https://amzn.to/396WXxG

https://amzn.to/396WXxG

https://amzn.to/396WXxG

Petrified Forest National Park

Although a bit west of what is considered the tradition Midwest, Petrified Forest National Park is an American national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, park covers about 230 square miles, encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands.

The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic Epoch.  The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name.

The park’s seven maintained hiking trails, some paved, vary in length from less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to nearly 3 miles.  These named trails are Painted Desert Rim, Puerco Pueblo, Blue Mesa, Crystal Forest, Giant Logs, Long Logs, and Agate House.  Hikers and backpackers may also visit the park’s wilderness areas.

1000px-Shortgrass_pano_Petrified_Forest_NPPanorama of shortgrass prairie near Dry Wash in the southern section of the park.

Some of the larger animals roaming the grasslands include pronghorns, black-tailed jackrabbits (hares), Gunnison’s prairie dogs, coyotes, bobcats and foxes. Bobcats and bullsnakes hunt smaller animals, such as deer mice and white-tailed antelope squirrels in the park’s riparian zones.  More than 16 kinds of lizards and snakes live in various habitats in the park.

 

 Here are a few great resources.

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

Discover the magic of Secret Falls — Plateau Daily News

https://videopress.com/embed/zllGK5II?hd=0&autoPlay=0&permalink=0&loop=0

ecret Falls is a hidden gem nestled just south of downtown Highlands that makes for an excellent day hike.

A half-mile hike leads to a multi-tiered Secret Falls off Horse Cove Road. Visitors can see the falls from the top, by the swim hole at its base, or a riverbend downstream with several small drop-offs. The view from the bend in the river is a 180-degrees of waterfall splendor.

Pictured below is Secret Falls

Brandon Anderson made the trip from Waynesville and said he had the day off and wanted to hike something in Western North Carolina.

“I thought it was awesome,” said Anderson. “It’s tucked away down here so it’s not crowded, and it’s not too much of a hike and it’s really scenic.”

There are two creek crossings that are spanned by logs and the trail is well marked by blue rectangles making it easy to follow.

Directions from Highlands:

Head east from Highlands on Horse Cove Road and drive approx. 4 miles and turn right on Walking Stick Road.

Directions from Cashiers:

Drive southeast on Highway 107 for approx. 2 miles and turn right on Whiteside Cove Road. Travel approx. 9 miles on Whiteside Cove Road and turn right onto Horse Cove Road. Drive a mile and turn left on Walking Stick Road.

Beautiful Badlands of South Dakota

Here’s what 47 million years of deposition…tossed with a steady rate of erosion…looks like.

The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today. (https://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm)

The Lost Mine Trail: We Found Hiking Gold, but No Mine — BIT|Hiker

The Lost Mine Trailhead is on Basin Junction Road near the Chisos Basin Campground. The parking area is small (about 15 cars), so it’s a good idea to get there early. In case you’re wondering, 9:30am is not early. There were no spots, but we found another tiny lot about a quarter-mile east and road-hiked back to the trailhead. The mileage on this hike includes that extra distance, but the coordinates represent the actual trailhead.

Your mileage may vary.

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As on our South Rim Loop hike (read here), we were starting in the shadow of Casa Grande Peak; this time to the east of that majestic alp. We started off uphill directly into the blinding morning sun. The temperature was hovering around 50°F, and the sky was a brilliant azure broken only occasionally by a fluffy white cloud. The first hundred yards or so was paved, but the trail soon turned to gravely dirt and began to narrow. We were hiking into the same autumn-colored forest that we had enjoyed a few days before. Casa Grande again peeked over a mottled sea of red, orange, and brown.

IMG_4780IMG_4786After gaining some altitude, we we were able to look west through The Window and see the rumpled Texas desert stretching off to the horizon. The higher we climbed, the better the view. Soon we were getting views to the south as well, down into Boot Canyon. Twisting and turning, we wound our way east toward Lost Mine Peak. The countryside was stunning; much more open than the South Rim Loop (the rim itself being a noteworthy exception, with some of the most expansive views we’ve ever seen).  Still, this climb was a delight; at every turn in the trail we had a different vista to view.

IMG_4794IMG_4815We were headed in the direction of the Lost Mine Peak, but we would not gain that summit. We found it a little peculiar that the Lost Mine Trail doesn’t go up Lost Mine Mountain. The trail instead eventually turns south and culminates on a rocky bald about three-quarters of a mile southwest of that peak. Legend has it that somewhere near the summit of the Lost Mine Mountain was a particularly lucrative gold mine run by Spanish explorers. So protective were the Spanish of their find that they made the miners (usually life-term prisoners) wear blindfolds as they marched to work from their barracks. The legend holds that a band of indigenous people of the Comanche Tribe, resentful of the European invaders, slaughtered the Spaniards, leaving no man alive who knew the location of the mine. No one has been able to find it since. Curiously, the legend also states that if, on Easter morning, one stands at the former location of the door to San Vicente’s mission (sixteen miles to the southeast on the Rio Grande), the sun’s first rays will fall on the mine’s entrance. For our part, we couldn’t have cared less about gold, except for that which gilded the leaves of nearby trees; our coffers were full to the brim with sunlight, fresh air, and magnificent views. We were rich.

IMG_4821IMG_4838IMG_4844We continued to climb, and eventually we were high enough that we were looking over some lesser peaks to the landscape beyond. A mile and a half into our ascent, we reached a series of intense switchbacks. The next mile would be a dusty back and forth to the apex of our hike, alternately looking up a wooded incline or out over the valley to Casa Grande. Due west was The Window and miles of Texas desert beyond. Immediately below us, we could see Chisos Basin and the Basin Junction threading its way through the sage and brown countryside. We bent to our task.

IMG_4880IMG_4877IMG_4851IMG_4865IMG_4859Leaving the switchbacks behind, we emerged onto a spacious, rounded bald. Here, the view truly opened up. The trail followed a ridge toward a large rock formation to the south. Other hikers were milling around, snapping photos, and chatting. Small children buzzed about, climbing on the boulders that were scattered around the ridge. The general consensus seemed to be that this was the end of the line. It was not. The trail dipped into a shallow draw and climbed back toward the distant rock formation. We continued on, determined to tramp every foot of trail available. Focused on the jumble of massive boulders ahead, we hiked on, now virtually alone.

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via The Lost Mine Trail: We Found Hiking Gold, but No Mine — BIT|Hiker

66 Hikes Along Rt. 66 – Mark Twain National Forest

Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri

 

The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.

 

The Mark Twain National Forest,  Missouri’s only national forest, encompasses roughly 1.5 million acres, mostly within the Ozark Highlands. Located across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, the Ozark Highlands are an ancient landscape characterized by large permanent springs, over 5,000 caves, rocky barren glades, old volcanic mountains and nationally recognized streams. Portions of the Ozarks were never under oceans, nor were the areas glaciated.is a U.S. National Forest located in the southern half of Missouri.   It was established on September 11, 1939. It is named for author Mark Twain, a Missouri native. The park covers 3,068,800 acres with abundant Wilderness and Wildlife and a National Scenic River area. This huge park spans 29 counties and represents 11% of all forested land in Missouri.

Some unique features of the Mark Twain include Greer Spring, which is the largest spring on National Forest land and part of the Eleven Point National Scenic River, and pumps an average of 214 million gallons of water per day into the river.  The public can also visit the Glade Top Trail National Scenic Byway, which offers views of over 30 miles to the Boston Mountains in Arkansas. The 350-mile Ozark Trail system winds through much of the National Forest.

Wilderness Areas   The park has 9 Wilderness areas to explore

Bell Mountain.jpg

 

And here are a few other great hiking resources.

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

Amazing Waterfalls of the Midwest

 

 

Hickory Canyons National Area – Missouri

Hickory Canyons

This area is botanically rich, supporting 541 native vascular plant species and 152 bryophyte (liverworts and mosses) species. A number of these species are considered glacial relicts. Glacial relicts are species that were more common in Missouri 12,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. Since then, the climate has warmed, forcing some species to inhabit micro-climates that mimic the cool, moist conditions of glacial times. Glacial relicts at Hickory Canyons include hay-scented fern, fir clubmoss and winterberry. The area is rich in fern species with over a dozen species represented.

The Lamotte sandstone here was formed from the sandy beaches of a shallow ocean that existed 500 million years ago. Layers of limestone were deposited over the sandstone, but millions of years of erosion and uplift of the Ozark Plateau exposed the sandstone we see today. After a rain event a wet-weather waterfall can be enjoyed from the end of the hiking trail on the east side of the county road. In the spring the headwater creeks here are a good place to spot a Louisiana waterthrush.

https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/hickory-canyons

 

Starved Rock State Park – Illinois

 

There are over 13 miles (21 km) of hiking trails in Starved Rock State Park. There are 18 deep canyons in the park; French, LaSalle, Ottawa and St. Louis Canyons feature the more long-lasting waterfalls at Starved Rock.  A trail along the river offers scenic views from attractions such as Lover’s Leap Overlook, Eagle Cliff Overlook and Beehive Overlook. Camping, boating and fishing are among the other activities offered in the park.There are 133 campsites at Starved Rock State Park, of those 100 can be reserved. There are also horseback riding trails at Starved Rock on the far western side of the park.

 

French Canyon

From December through February bald eagles can be viewed at the park, either fishing below the Starved Rock Dam, where turbulent waters stay unfrozen during the cold winter months or roosting on the Leopold or Plum Island. The Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center loans out binoculars to aspiring birders in exchange for the birder’s drivers license. During the winter, sports such as ice skating, tobogganing, cross-country skiing and sledding are allowed in parts of the park. Snowmobiling is not allowed at Starved Rock State Park.  Waterfalls become constantly changing ice falls during the winter as well.  14 of 18 waterfalls transform into scenic ice falls, with those at LaSalle, French, St. Louis, Tonty, Wildcat, Hennepin, Ottawa and Kaskaskia Canyons being especially scenic.   Ice climbing is another winter activity allowed in select canyons.

 

Hocking Hills State Park – Ohio

 

Hocking Hills State Park is a state park in the Hocking Hills region of Hocking County, Ohio, United States; in some areas adjoining the Hocking State Forest. Within the park are over 25 miles of hiking trails, rock formations, waterfalls, and recess caves. The trails are open from dawn to dusk, all year round including holidays.
The park contains seven separate hiking areas: Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Conkle’s Hollow (nature preserve), Old Man’s Cave, Rock House and Hemlock Bridge Trail to Whispering Cave. 

The area is very popular with tourists and collectively is known as the Hocking Hills Region. It features many private inns, campgrounds, cabins, restaurants, and other related businesses, including a recently developed zipline.

Cataract Falls – Indiana

Cataract falls.jpg

Cataract Falls is a waterfall located in northern Owen County in the west central part of the U.S. state of Indiana. The largest waterfall by volume in the state, it is part of the Lieber State Recreation Area.

Cataract Falls consists of two sets of waterfalls on Mill Creek separated by about 1 mile (1.6 km). Both falls consist of a series of drops. The total height of the Upper Falls is approximately 45 feet (14 m), while that of the Lower Falls is about 30 feet (9.1 m).

Immediately downstream of the Lower Falls, Mill Creek enters the southern end of Cagles Mill Lake, near the towns of Cunot and Cataract. The falls are just off State Road 42 and close to State Road 243.