Back for Seconds?I would like to welcome back Cindi Norris for her second guest post. Her first post on Jackson & Burden Falls was a big success and with her zeal and love for hiking and nature, she is back once again writing about one of her favorite places, Piney Creek Ravine Nature Preserve.
This will be the first in a two part series on her exploration of Piney Creek. So once again I step back and let Cindi share her story. .
January 3, 2011 – Piney Creek Ravine Nature Preserve
– by Cindi Norris
I have truly lost track of how many times I have visited Piney Creek Ravine (PCR). I shortchanged myself on my first visit in the fall of 2009. Still a novice hiker at the time I missed a trail sign and misread the map I was using. I went directly to the prehistoric art for which this trail is well known, but I missed so much more as I have discovered on subsequent visits.
I have since visited PCR in the winter with icefalls, in the spring with an abundance of wildflowers, in the heat of summer and during the color-show of fall. Summer was by far the worst. I am convinced PCR is a tick breeding farm and you can’t walk the trail without acquiring a spider web or twenty. I didn’t have to deal with any such nasties today.
My last visit here was in October when the drive to the ravine was beyond beautiful. It was the a weekend when the fall colors were most vibrant. Today’s drive was beautiful in its own right with dark silhouettes of barren trees against a gorgeous blue sky contrasted with the reddish-gold tones of wild grasses on the rolling hillsides.
The walk into the nature preserve is an easy stroll between farm fields. Today, the path was alive with the activity of numerous birds, including a vibrant red cardinal that posed long enough for a portrait. I pass through evergreens that dropped ticks on me during my summer visit and descend into the ravine.
The trail crosses the creek at this point but I choose to walk down the creek until it reaches a drop off into a pit below. Keeping a safe distance from the edge, I snap a few pictures but am unable to really see the an icefall that resides here.
I return up the creek and get back on the trail (that I missed on my first visit). This trail follows the upper edge of the ravine. Through the naked trees, you can see how deep the ravine is and you get glimpses of the creek and rock formations below. This area was ablaze with wildflowers in the spring and in late February there were icefalls all around.
Art & Frost
After winding back and forth through the woods the trail finds its way back to the creek and continues up a slight incline next to a rock wall. Around the corner is the main attraction of this trail, the prehistoric rock art. The rock art here consists of faces, crosses, human shapes and other figures that have been chipped into the rock. There are also painted figures; horses, a man with a bow and arrow as well as modern day graffiti.
While there was some ice in the creek there were no icefalls. I did see my first frost flowers. I only learned of them earlier this week or I would have walked right past them. After crossing the creek via stepping stones I head out of the ravine on the last leg of the trail.
I say good-bye to my favorite place; walk back through the evergreens and the dormant wildflower fields, back to the parking lot. I don’t like leaving this place. But I will be back, next week in fact. I am leading a group of friends through the ravine. I will make sure they don’t miss any of the unique features of this hidden gem. – Cindi Norris
Stayed tuned for Cindi’s return to Piney Creek braving the cold with a hiking group.
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 appreciate her perspective and energy she has for nature and her enthusiasm for sharing her explorations of 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.
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