´¯`•. June 04, 2017

Illinois:  Starved Rock

NoTe:  SNAKE ALERT.  The following post contains pictures of snakes.

Our second day in Illinois was dedicated competely to exploring Starved Rock State Park.  It’s BIG.  There’s no way to see everything in one day.  There’s just not.  And it’s one of the three most popular Illinois destinations (along with Garden of the Gods and Pere Marquette).  So we knew it’d be busy.

NoTe:  Starved Rock now has a Jr. Ranger program!  It is NOT on the National Parks’ Junior Ranger website, because Starved Rock is a state park, not a national park.  But it has the same program, and has badges identical to those of the National Parks.  So this is a badge that you can earn!

First, let me show you a map of Starved Rock, from their website:

click to enlarge

I mostly went on-line and tried to find out what ‘sights’ were of interest on the trails, and went with that.  I also planned to ask which trails were ‘can’t-be-missed’ at the Visitor’s Center.  They would know, right?

Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center!  About five minutes after this photo was taken, three school busses pulled up, and pandemonium erupted.  One hundred and fifty (ish) public school kids.  We decided RIGHT away to go to the absolute furthest trails, first, to avoid the public school groups.

First we started at the Visitor’s Center.  Got in there before the busses arrived.  We worked on our Junior Ranger badges, and learned a little about the history of Starved Rock.  We got to where we were able to take our packets back to camp and write out the rest (and/or work the puzzles) over lunch, later.  It was time to take to the trails!  We drove as FAR from the Visitor’s center as we could, and took outlying trails, first.

Are you guys coming?  Let’s go – first up is Owl Canyon!

Very nice.   Kind of lackluster after yesterday, though…

Did I mention it’s WET, here?  Lots of mud, and crossing mud on logs.
Here we were perfecting our Charlie Chaplain walk.

Hiking on the banks of the Illinois.  (BAD place to hike…)

The Illinois River is gross.  The banks are just filled with garbage.

And then the snakes.  I was not fond of Illinois, at this point, I might add.

Milk Snake.  I know this one, because it’s my second encounter.  Several years ago, I was hooking up a camper to a truck, looked down, and one was headed towards my (open-toed) sandals.  I jumped from the camper to the truck door without hitting the ground, and was inside, gasping about how it was NOT a garter.  Terrifying.  So is this.  I was FAR, FAR away from this.  I just happen to have a very good zoom lens.  But nobody can touch me, while I have snake (0r snake pictures) nearby.  I scream.  A lot.

This was one of FOUR of these that we saw.  I’m sorry, I don’t LIKE them.  AT ALL.  (I did not get a picture of the biggest snake, though.  He went under a log before I got the shot.  He was BIG and blackish)  There were two ladies (besties!) from Wisconsin who were watching the snakes.  The one thought they were beautiful.  The other was like me.  We got to talk to them quite a while.  They travel all over the place together.  Very fun.  🙂

Flowers.  FAR prettier than snakes!!!

La Salle Canyon/Falls.  Tonty Canyon was closed, so we opted for this, and I’m *SO* glad.  Prettiest thing we saw, all day.  And we did it with the Wisconsin besties, which was even better.  Can you see the two falls, though?  Here’s a better one of the taller falls:

With my gang, of course.  I took a picture of the ladies there, too, for them.

There were a LOT of wild columbine, there.  Beautiful!

  Has the feel of a Southern Bayou.  I… wasn’t comfortable.

Lunchtime!  Back to the camper to work on the rest of our Jr. Ranger badges, figure out our plan for the afternoon, and to get some chow.  And air conditioning, after a hot hike all along the river.

Back to Starved Rock.  This time we started at the Lodge,to check it out.  It’s BEAUTIFUL.  Very hoity-toity, with stables and a pool and live entertainment and fancy dining rooms… but we had to peek at it all, right?

The Lodge.  We’re more camping people.

On our way across the outdoor eating area at the lodge.  I went to the fence to look at the view, and something moved by my legs.  He was like, “Lady?  Psst, lady… you got any french fries?”  He was RIGHT by the diners!

After turning in our Jr. Ranger booklets and earning our badges (I earned one, too!), we took to the trail.  This is the view from the top of Starved Rock.  The Illiniwis killed the Ottawa chief at a tribal meeting, so the Ottawa called in their Potawatomi bros and chased the Illiniwis up the rock, keeping them up there until they starved to death.  Grisly legend.  ((((shudders more))))

View of the Dam, from Lover’s Leap

HomiGOODNESS, the stairs…!!  It was a LOT of climbing. (That’s my gang, again.)

Wildcat Canyon.  It was SO busy, because these places are nearer to the Lodge.
This also means less snakes.  I’ll stay by the peoples, kthxbye.

Wildcat Falls.  I couldn’t include the pool in the pic, people were swimming in it.
Under the ‘no swimming’ signs, naturally.

Lookout from ABOVE Wildcat canyon.  Yipes, that’s high!!!

Trail back to the lodge.  We made a big loop of the near-lodge stuff.  Got to talk to an elderly couple who live 80 miles away, but come to the park once a month, because they love the views, the walks, and the visitors they get to talk to.  (They were tickled that we stopped and talked with them.  I talk, btw.  A LOT.  Can you tell?)

We were getting pretty tuckered out by then, though.

But we earned our badges!  And figured out that we hiked close to seven miles.  That’s not bad, considering it was steep, difficult stuff.  I’m pleased with our progress.  And while we were done at 4pm (EST), we needed to be.  Everyone was relieved to hear that the next day was a driving day.  The kids (and grown-ups!) deserve a break!

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