Jan. 20, 2019 “Great Blue Heron” 6 Hikers
The weather has been against us the last few days and if no one showed up today, the hike would be cancelled. Six of us showed up! Temperature was at 8 above, no wind, and sunny. Access road to lock 6 was drifted over and we opted a different area. Our group never hiked to lock 1 which we did today. There is no trail east from lock 2. It was slow going as we had to contend with fallen trees and deep snow. Two from our group ventured farther to the Illinois River. Of special interest, because of flooding in the Spring, the pilings were much higher at lock 1. A wall was built on the top of the lock on the south side. Yes, the lock is under water during high water and you know its there for those 2 features. We had no idea on our mileage today but it took us over 2 hours to complete.
Feb. 17, 2019 “Bald Eagle”
Local weather forecast for today “Don’t venture out on the highways, continued snowing for the day”. I took the advise but asked Rene or Wayne to take over if hikers showed up. Rene took over, but only 1 hiker braved the weather. Hike cancelled! This is the second time we had to cancel a hike here. An ice storm a few years ago make access impossible.
March 17, 2019 “Barred Owl” 4.2 Miles -5 Hikers
What, snow again! We had snow again this morning but lucky for us most if it melted on the bike path. That also make it easier to spot the garbage along the way. We picked up trash till we ran out of bags. Of note, we noticed a small leak from the canal just off the bike path today. Odd things in the trees – two guitars and an opossum, now those were firsts for us.
April 14, 2019 “Raccoon” 3.5 Miles – 4 Hikers
When will winter end? January we had drifting snow. February hike canceled due to a snow storm. March produced more snow for us. April another all day snow storm in our area with as much as 8 inches near us. Most of the roads were bad as snow plows were in storage till next winter. Four of us made it for the hike but because of the bad conditions we opted for an up and back hike. Wet snow falling all afternoon made it difficult to get some good pictures. One picture did come out sharp, we had stopped under a bridge for a rest.
May 19, 2019 “Indigo Bunting” 4.9 Miles – 4 Hikers
Only 4 hikers! Threat of rain and other commitments made our group small. We did have 2 new hikers today. Because of the rain forecast the group opted for a shorter up and back hike. Ron did get a great photo of the pelicans in the area. Note – I missed the hike but my area had the showers.
June 9, 2019 “Wood Duck” 3.2 Miles – 7 Hikers
Cloudy and pleasant today. Ruthie checked her weather app and it showed showers at Rock Falls but none expected here till after 4:00. We had reports that bugs would be driving us crazy but a nice breeze keep them away. Recently I was asked if any Marshall Gates existed yet on the canal. Lock 16 had one that was not replaced by a break wall. The wood gate is in bad shape and is not holding back enough water to fill the above pool. 4:15 and heading home, black clouds to the east of us, the rain missed us.
July 21, 2019 “Red tail Hawk” 3.8 Miles – 3 Hikers
Good weather for our hike but only 3 made it. We had a first time hiker with our group today, Cindy from DeKalb. She hopes to join us in future hikes. This area on the feeder canal does not see much use as it is not close to any city. Should be nice for a bike ride as not much traffic. Rene said the trail was well kept and not much trash.
Aug.18, 2019 “Woodcock” 3.5 Miles – 10 Hikers
After a long dry spell the rains are back but none here today. Temperature in the low 80’s so the past heat wave seems over.We had a bag full of garbage before we even started the hike. The parking lots at the bridges along the way have no garbage receptacles and some people toss the cans and bottles in the weeds. Lock 24 did have a garbage can so we were able to get rid of our full bags. We noticed the placement of a steel plate inserted above the lock to maintain the water level. It was needed. Lots of people out here today, fishermen, walkers, and families on bikes. Quite a few of these noticed our pickup sticks and bags and they gave us a thank you for our efforts.
Sept 15, 2019 Cottonwood 4.1 Miles 6 Hikers
Switch of direction for today’s hike, we went with the flow. Rene and Ron brought their kayaks and paddled while the rest of us walked. First time for this – we picked up garbage from the water and along the trail. It was warm going on the bike path, the trees blocked the breeze from the west. One thing we forgot from a prior hike was parts of this area has a lot of mosquitoes. Good thing we had bug spray.!
October 13, 2019 “Water Snake” 4.8 Miles – 4 Hikers
October you can expect any type of weather, today is not bad but we have a strong wind to contend with. Lucky for us we had trees to our north providing a wind break. Looking back 2 years we had more hikers but almost everyone was wearing winter gear. Only others we met today were a few people in the parking lot areas walking their dogs. It’s always nice to have new hikers with us and Don and Donna Kline joined us today. The fall colors are late this year but to see fields with ponds in them are new. Too much rain in this area in the past month.
November 17, 2019 “Red Winged Blackbird” 8 hikers – 4.7 miles
Weather forecast – 50 % chance of rain, it was raining before we got started! A few of us did have some rain gear but not enough for everyone. We all agreed to shorten the hike and started at bridge 64. No slowing down today to enjoy the scenery, we just wanted to get back to our cars. Even the wildlife did not venture out expect for one lone eagle. I was able to get some good pictures in spite of the conditions, I was under an umbrella. FYI – people to the east and south of us did not get the rain.