New Year, New Blogger
This has been a very long time coming, our very first guest writer. When I originally started this blog way back in March 2010 it was always my intentions to have others share their Shawnee Hills experiences and now that has become a reality.
I started to notice Cindi when she began to comment on the Shawnee Hills Outdoors facebook page. In the past several months she has become one of my biggest “cheerleaders”. Recently she contacted me via e-mail and this led me to ask her if she would like to write an article on her recent visit to Jackson Falls. She enthusiastically accepted and the article below is something I am happy to share with you our reader.
So I will now step to the side and let you met our first contributor, Cindi Norris
About Me – Cindi Norris
I am a native of Southeast Missouri who is constantly being drawn across the river to explore the hidden gems of Southern Illinois. I am a single, middle-aged mom of two adult daughters who discovered hiking in the summer of 2009. I loved hiking so much that I now goes nearly every weekend seeking new places to explore and always with my camera in hand.
The winter air is biting. The sky is releasing tiny white specks of precipitation. So, what is a girl to do? Head to the mall or the nearest movie theater? Maybe curl up by a fire with a cup of cocoa and a good book? Not this girl. This girl is donning the ever fashionable long underwear and wool socks and is anxious to see how waterproof her new hiking shoes truly are.
There are two locations on my list for the day. My plan is to return to two locations I visited this summer. The first stop is Burden Falls, in hopes of seeing some icefalls. The next stop will be Ferne Clyffe State Park to check out the Waterfall Trail.
In spite of the snow over the past few days and that which is still falling, the roads are in very good condition. As I make my last few turns towards Burden Falls I come upon a sign that read Jackson Falls 2 Miles. I first was introduced to Jackson Falls this week through Shawnee Hills Outdoors.
Two miles. That isn’t too far out of my way. Always spontaneous, I change my plans and I head down the partially snow covered lane into new territory. The snow is falling softly as I pull into the parking area. I bundle up; grab my camera and head off to who knows where. Really! I have no clue about the length of the trail. I have no map. I just start walking. Thankfully the snow is worn off the path. It is apparent I am not the only one who wanted to explore Jackson Falls today. I follow the path along a creek strewn with snow covered mini-boulders.
After a short walk the little stream disappears, plunging into a huge canyon below. From my vantage point I cannot yet see how deep the canyon is. As I continue along the path the picture comes into focus and I am in Awe. I was hiking a couple canyon areas in Missouri last weekend and thought they were big. This canyon would have swallowed last week’s destination whole.
I continue along the path laid out before me, snapping photos along the way and stepping carefully so I don’t get a closer view of the canyon below than I am really seeking at the moment. Occasionally I look across to the bluffs and hills on the other side. That glance clarifies the expanse and depth of the area. Down below are enormous rock piles. I can now see a path down there and want desperately to find my way to it so I can feel wee and small in the belly of the canyon.
After walking a mile or so the path I am on seems to disappear. I don’t know who was making the path in front of me but it seems they vaporized at that point since the foot prints vanished. I tried making my own way, but since I still wanted to visit Burden Falls and had no idea how much further I had to go to reach a way down, I retreated back the way I came. The trail below will have to wait for another day. And there will be another day. Jackson Falls has just become my number four favorite Southern Illinois trail.
Next stop – Burden Falls
While I did get some good photos of the snow and the creek and canyon at Jackson Falls , I never got any icefall shots. I am hoping Burden will not disappoint me.
The road to Burden is still snow packed and somewhat slick. I am just happy no one else is on the road and I can make my way down the middle. I arrive safely at the parking lot and briefly ponder how I will get back up the hill and resolve it to the fact that my front wheel drive has yet to fail me.
There are two ladies from Kentucky in search of the same thing; Icefalls. They are amusing themselves by rapidly firing off shots with their cameras trying to capture the droplets from melting icicles. Unable to get photos around them and not wanting to invade their space, I follow the trail, sort of, to the ravine below. I say sort of because the trail starts down towards the creek and vanishes. I have been to this location before and know that all I have to do is navigate my way back towards the base of the falls.
Crossing the creek several times, I work my way back, closer to the falls. There are numerous icefalls but most are very high on the bluff walls. I work my way closer to the falls I am happy to see they are truly frozen. The only way to get close enough for a shot is to do a little rock climbing. I maneuver over and between some giant snow covered rocks and finally break into an area with a full view of the icefall. I would love to have gotten under it but I do have my limits. I didn’t feel comfortable moving closer and risking a tumble. I was satisfied with the view I was treated to from this vantage point. I carefully make my way back out of the hole I had climbed into and make my way back up the creek, crossing over to walk under the rock wall and getting closer shots of the icicles dangling over my head, ready to drop like a dagger at any moment.
I make my own path back to the trail above. It has been another great day of hiking. I have a new place to explore in the future and I got to visit an old place with a new face. I never made it back to Ferne Clyffe today. It has been said before: so many trails, so little time. – Cindi Norris
Check Out Cindi’s photo link @ www.trailsofsouthernillinois.shutterfly.com
Special Thanks & Future Guest Blogger
Just wanted to once again thank Cindi for the time she put into this post. I really enjoy reading others interactions with the Shawnee Hills.
If any of our readers or someone they know would be interested contributing to this site, please click here to contact me via e-mail. We are looking for writers that hike, bike, canoe, kayak, rock climb, ride horses, rappel, or just like to be out in nature. Contact me and I will give more details. Thanks.
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The author and Shawnee Hills Outdoors disclaim any liability or loss incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application on any information contained in this blog. If you do attempt to explore any of these areas make sure you are have the proper knowledge to survive in the woods, do not rely on a cellphone for help. Please check ranger stations and park superintendents for latest information regarding these areas. This website is for entertainment only.