Hike & Go Seek – Gandy Dancer Trial

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The Gandy Dancer State Trail is a 98 mile recreational trail spanning through Wisconsin and Minnesota. The trail is managed by Polk, Burnett, and Douglas County in Wisconsin and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Minnesota.

The trail follows the old Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie railroad grade from St. Croix Falls to Superior. The trail is divided up into a north and south segment with the southern segment accounting for 47 miles all in Wisconsin and the northern segment accounting for 51 miles in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The Ice Age Trail follows the Gandy Dancer State Trail for 19 miles from St. Croix Falls past the town of Luck.

 

 

History

A gandy dancer was a slang term used for American railroad workers that would build and maintain tracks by hand. The term likely originated from the Gandy Manufacturing Company based in Chicago which produced railroad tools. These workers were known to sing and keep their voices and feet in unison which led to them being described as dancers. In 1990 a naming contest was held for the naming of the trail. The name Gandy Dancer was chosen to honor the railroad workers who built the tracks. (wiki)

 

 

Trekking The National Parks: The Family Board Game (Second Edition)

Trekking the National Parks Family Board Game.

Hike & Go Seek – Petrified Forest

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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.

 

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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 hiking resources

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

 

Hiking Garden Of The Gods in Colorado USA – Between England and Iowa

The Garden of the Gods, a registered National Natural Landmark, is located in Colorado Springs CO and is completely free to visit.  Set at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the main draw of the park is to marvel at the red sandstone rock formations scattered throughout.  There are 17 different formations altogether and many different hiking trails totalling 21 miles.  The Visitor Centre is a good place to start, you can pick up a free map which is helpful as there isn’t a huge amount of signage out on the trails.

Garden of the Gods Hiking

The Visitor Centre also has one of my favourite views in the park.  You can see North Gateway Rock, South Gateway Rock and Gray Rock in front of the Rocky Mountains.  I like the contrast of colours, from the orange/brown in the front to the green of the lower mountains and then the white of the snow capped Pikes Peak.

Garden of the Gods Colorado USA

via Hiking Garden Of The Gods in Colorado USA — Between England & Iowa

Trekking The National Parks: The Family Board Game (Second Edition)

Trekking the National Parks Family Board Game

 

 

National Parks Badges Puzzle 

 

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Ultra Sim Card 

 

Hike & Go Seek – Oak Leaf Trail

Brown Leaves on Brown Tree Branch

Just outside the busteling city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin you will find the Oak Leaf Trail (formerly 76 Bike Trail).  It is a paved 108-mile multi-use recreational trail.   Clearly marked trail segments connect all of the major parks in the Milwaukee County Park System with a “ribbon of green.”

Early bicycling advocate Harold “Zip” Morgan first conceived and laid out a 64-mile trail in 1939. The route made its way around the edge of the county and through natural resource corridors found along the rivers and lakefront.  Three decades later the trail was officially established by the Milwaukee County Park Commission, and in 1966 construction of the parkland trails began.  It became known as the 76 Bike Trail for the 76 miles  it spanned.
East side of the Oak Leaf Trail 
The present system of inter-connecting trails consists of 48 miles of asphalt paths and 31 miles of parkway, along with 27 miles of municipal streets that have designated bicycle lanes and sidewalks.   An outer loop of 64.5 miles (103.8 km) joins together the 5.4-mile (8.7 km) Lake Loop, 1.6-mile (2.6 km) Lincoln Creek Spur, 2.6-mile  Whitnall Loop and 13.7-mile East-West Connector.   The 2.1-mile (3.4 km) Root River Trail Extension was added in 2006.   Another 31 miles (50 km) are currently in the planning stages, including trail linkages with the newer Hank Aaron State Trail in the Menomonee Valley and Lakeshore State Park. A new trail segment under Bluemound Road along Underwood Creek was completed in 2011 in the City of Wauwatosa.
Scenery along the Oak Leaf Trail varies from woodland parks, nature reserves, and a wildlife corridor along the lakefront, to urban industrial settings in Milwaukee’s downtown area.

Hike & Go Seek – Starved Rock

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Plan to be surprised and awed at the spectacular natural features found here at Starved Rock in Illinois.

Surrounded by the flat, seemingly endless fields of Illinois farm country, a totally different topography is found within the park. Starved Rock was formed thousands of years ago by the melting of glaciers releasing torrents of water. As the water rushed downstream it eroded and stripped away everything in its path except the resistant St. Peter sandstone. It is that sandstone that formed the steep rock walls and the cool dark valleys of the eighteen canyons. When conditions are right cascades of falling water spill down into these gorges, creating the waterfalls so many come here to enjoy.

WATERFALLS
Although you can technically see waterfalls in 14 of the 18 canyons, some of the most scenic waterfalls are found in St. Louis, French, Wildcat, Tonty, Ottawa and Kaskaskia canyons. The best times to see waterfalls are in the spring when the snow and ice melt or after a heavy rainfall.

ICEFALLS
Winter brings a whole new life to the canyons. The freezing and melting that happens during this time of year creates amazing ice sculptures in the canyons. Make sure you come back in the winter to see an icefall – they are spectacular!

600 million years ago Northern Illinois was part of a broad upland that was undergoing extensive erosion. The erosion wore
the land down to near sea level. Erosion that forms a near sea
level surface is called a peneplain. This peneplain was submerged several times by sea water and several layers of sediment were laid on the surface.
Starved Rock State Park was once covered with 3000-5000
feet of glacial ice on and off over a course of 700,000 years.
Glacial ice can move forwards never backwards. When a glacier is said to be retreating, it is actually melting faster than it is
moving forward. As glacial ice can only move forward, it picks
up rocks and carries them in the ice. When the ice melts, these
rock particles are dropped at the point of melting. All dropped
rock material is called drift. Drift found at the point of melting is
called till. Till is unsorted glacial drift. When the glacier is stagnant, the drift accumulates into a pile called an end moraine.
After the glacier has retreated, it leaves a range of irregular hills
which are the end moraine. The melt waters of the glacier were
so great that they would accumulate behind the moraines and
form vast lakes. The streams that drain these lakes were gigantic compared to today’s streams. The Illinois Valley was
formed by one of these streams.
15,000 years ago during the Wisconsinan Glacial Age, the glacial meltwater of a large lake overtopped the Marseilles Moraine and formed Lake Ottawa behind the Farm Ridge Moraine
that ran north to south along what we call Starved Rock State
Park today. This lake drained when it overtopped the Farm
Ridge Moraine cutting a channel that became the Illinois River.
Repeated meltwater floods of the Kankakee Torrent poured
through the channels cut through the Marseilles and Farm
Ridge Moraines establishing the drainage for the Illinois, Fox,
and Vermillion Rivers. This repeated drainage also cut the outcrops , overlooks, and 18 canyons that you see today.

Starved Rock State Park

 

And here are a few other great resources.

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

Wilderness Wednesday

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Think there is not much wilderness left in the United States…think again.   And while much of it is in such states as California, Arizona, Washington and Alaska, we have a gem right here in the Midwest – Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota!

Bordering the Arrowhead Region of the Canadian Board, the combined region of the BWCAW, Superior National Forest, Voyageurs National Park, and Ontario’s Quetico and La Verendrye Provincial Parks make up a large area of contiguous wilderness lakes and forests called the “Quetico-Superior country”, or simply the Boundary Waters. Lake Superior lies to the south and east of the Boundary Waters.

190,000 acres, nearly 20% of the BWCAW’s total area is water. Within the borders of the area are over 1,100 lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. Much of the other 80% of the area is forest. The BWCAW contains the largest remaining area of uncut forest in the eastern portion of the United States.

The Boundary Waters area is within the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province (commonly called the “North Woods”), a transitional zone between the boreal forest to the north and the temperate hardwood forest to the south that contains characteristics of each. Trees found within the wilderness area include conifers such as red pine, eastern white pine, birch, ash and even raspberries can be found in cleared areas. 

Green Pine Trees

The BWCAW contains a variety of hiking trails. Shorter hikes include the trail to Eagle Mountain (7 miles) Loop trails include the Pow Wow Trail, the Snowbank Trail, and the Sioux-Hustler Trail. The Border Route Trail and Kekekabic Trail are the two longest trails running through the BWCAW. The Border Route Trail runs east-west for over 65 miles through the eastern BWCAW, beginning at the northern end of the Superior Hiking Trail and following ridges and cliffs west until it connects with the Kekekabic Trail. The Kekekabic Trail continues for another 41 miles (66 km), beginning near the Gunflint Trail and passing through the center of the BWCAW before exiting it near Snowbank Lake. Both the Border Route and the Kekekabic Trail are part of the longer North Country National Scenic Trail.

 

Junction of the Eagle Mountain and Brule Lake Trails

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

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Whispers in the Wilderness

 

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Wild: From Lost to Found

 

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Nature’s Silent Message 

 

Wild Bird Wednesday – Backyard Birds

 

Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Last week I showed you our Bluebirds so this week I want to show you some of the other birds around our yard. Let’s start with the largest.

There is no difference between male and female Blue Jays but the next pair has subtle difference between genders.

The only gender difference between the Downy Woodpeckers is that the male has a red spot on the back of his head. The next two birds are about the same size and are some of the smallest birds we have around our yard.

via Wild Bird Wednesday – Backyard Birds — Bird Brains & Dog Tales

 

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Birds of North America 

Hike & Go Seek – Garden of the Gods – Illinois

Green Tree Near Rocky Mountains

Looking for spectacular views with a short hike among some of the most unique rock formations in the United States? Look no further than Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois. The most popular hike in the Shawnee National Forest, Garden of the Gods gives tourists amazing insight into the geologic structure of Southern Illinois and a view that stretches for miles high over the pristine hills of Shawnee Forest.

More than 320 million years ago, the wind and rain patiently started to chisel away at large deposits of sedimentary rock located in what is now, Shawnee National Forest . Over the years, the elements have sculpted some of the most stunning and extraordinary rock formations known to man. There are also plenty of trails for backpacking and horseback riding, allowing nature lovers a welcome tour of what the lively environment has to offer.

Trekking The National Parks: The Family Board Game (Second Edition)

Trekking the National Parks Family Board Game

There are many miles of diverse hiking and backpacking trails in the Shawnee National Forest including the 160-mile River to River Trail.

One of the most photographed locations in the state, Garden of the Gods’ scenic beauty is extraordinary. In the recreation area you can hike, camp, nature watch or picnic.

The Observation Trail features unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness. Interpretive signs explain the geological history. The 1/4-mile trail is made of natural sandstone and takes about an hour to walk. It contains short, steep grades and steps; benches are located along the trail and as a whole the trail is not tiring. Caution should be used due to the high cliffs in the area.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/shawnee/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=10685&actid=50

https://www.shawneeforest.com/garden-of-the-gods/

 

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

Beat the Bite!

Blue Green and Black Dragonfly on Green Grass

With Summer upon us, the bugs, ticks, mosquitoes, black flies and other nasty pests try to invade out space.

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    Medella Naturals Insect & Mosquito Repellent, DEET-Free All-Natural Formula, Safe for Kids and Pets, Made in The USA, Travel 3-Pack, 2 oz, 4 oz, and 8 oz. Bottles

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