Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Hiking’

Ummm, I don’t have a whole lot to say,¬† I guess, but please enjoy the photos I took this weekend. First up – pics from Saturday afternoons walk with my youngest at Sweet Marsh. Had to see how high the water is for this weekends duck hunting.

I wonder if there is a nice buck calling this place home. I've run across some nice tracks a couple of times in this area.

Love the deep blues and greens of fall in the marsh. See the maples in the treeline turning?

Lowest I've seen the water in the 35 years I have been shooting wood ducks back here.

Believe it or not, that blue in the sky is not "photo shopped."

It was quite a stretch for my puny camera, but these are sandhill cranes. This marsh has a breeding pair or two.

Butterfly trying to suck up the very last bits of nectar from this thistle's fading blooms.

AND – I took my boys squirrel hunting Sunday. I could get into quite a spiel I guess with my feelings about this. But I’m pretty sure you have an idea whats happening in my chest and brainbox.

He could have had a couple more, but he was a little axious. Happens.

Dryad saddle - edible in the spring when young and fresh.

One of my most favorite places on earth - a spring flowing out of a woodland hillside.

Drank some brew, also –

Not as good as last years, but still good. More Octoberfest to come now that my cold is almost gone!

Peace and take care –

Your friend –

Casey

Read Full Post »

I have come across a bit of information, supplied by the latest issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine, that presents some outstanding stewardship in Countryside Round me. Several conservation groups, government agencies and landowners who care about the environment have worked together to create a turnaround that is an absolute marvel.

Notice how bad the environment had been for trout and trout fishing in northeast Iowa, compared to where it is now. From the magazine –

Bill Kalishek, a DNR fisheries biologist, explains, “Trout require clean water and by 1980 only six Iowa streams were free enough of sediment and pollutants to sustain trout. The good news is the streams today are much cleaner because of habitat improvement and, especially, landowners working with agencies on watershed projects.”

At the Decorah State Fish Hatchery, manager Brian Malaise confirms the turnaround. “Thirty-two northeast Iowa trout streams now have naturally reproducing populations,” he says, “and we stock seventeen others.”

With this in mind, I had to take to the nearest stream and get a sampling of this awesome news. And the news is reflected in these few photos with the absolutely gorgeous landscape, streams with water as clean as the water that issues forth from Brigid’s Well, and some of the most colorful freshwater fish and stream bottoms that nature has to offer.

Which brings up the thought, among the many thousands of subjects that seemed to stream through this pea-brain during my hike this morning (which isn’t good if you’re the writing type), that I wonder if the outdoor blogging community is hurting it’s own cause. How I got to this, I don’t know because I forgot to bring along my journal. But with putting all this information out there, and doing it as enthusiastically as we do, are we doing it for the right reasons? And what are those reasons? Can we bring too much attention to the parts of life that we truly love and can’t seem to live without?

I don’t want to show off the Countryside Round’s trout fishing to have some idiot come in and exploit it, or ruin it. Or introduce people to duck hunting and have them end up being poachers.

But then again, I want to show the part of the world that doesn’t understand where I’m coming from, why I feel the way I do. Because nature and the outdoor pursuits should be shared in some form or another.

I may be thinking too selfishly. Most of this thought stream probably comes from my solitary side. I don’t want to run into another person when I’m involved in something out in the “wilds.”

I just hope we as outdoor bloggers/writers are doing the right thing.

Does this tree look like it’s singing in a woodland opera? Anyway, here is a picture or two of other things I must have liked on the 3.5 miles of grassy/stony path today. Please enjoy. And if hiking is something you don’t like to do, please reconsider it. It’s damn good for you. But you writers clean a good part of your mind out beforehand. It will make the hike more enjoyable.

Until I can write again – peace and take care.

Your friend –

Casey

Read Full Post »

A Night Walk and A New Squirrel Pocket.

I don't know why I put my camera through this, but can you make out the deer?

It has been a long week, my friends, and thought that I might get some reprieve from life’s responsibilities by going for a little night walk, letting the light of the nearly full Thunder Moon and the faint luminesce of the Milky Way impart their gifts into me through the pores of my skin – if it could make it past the Deep Woods Off, that is. And I truly hope it did. I really cannot wait for the end of mosquito season, even with the knowledge that the little bloodsuckers need their time to do whatever it is they are supposed to do. They seem very out of control this year.

Critters have been scrathing at the top of this bolete.

But before I was enveloped in darkness, surrounded by the sounds of a summer night – the chirping of various things; crickets, cicadas and tree frogs – a walk under the trees was made along game trails, hoping to find mushrooms I have never found before – chantrelles and king boletes. There was no luck to be had on that front (the mushroom pictured was not a king bolete in my opinion – the stem was not bulbous), yet there is time before late fall sets in. So there is still a chance of finding a specimen or two. That is if I have a mind to concentrate on mushrooms instead of the hunting seasons fast approaching. The soon-to-be Hunting Moon brings with it squirrel season, and an early duck season. Then the deer bow season starts, followed by the rest of the duck season. Then trapping starts. In between all of this, the brown trout will be spawning, giving me a good shot at netting a larger one – my personal best only being 16-17 inches long! One of my favorite critters that Nature has devised.

I guess my pack will be stuffed to capacity real soon!

This wasn't the only clump of shagbark hickories on this hillside.

In the fading daylight, I found a real nice pocket for squirrel hunting, most of the squirrels I saw were greys. This hillside has a generous share of hickory, oak, and locust. Just a ton of mast. And some very playful chickadees! Squeaking and flitting from oak twig to oak twig, raining small acorns down on this intruder. Thank goodness their territory didn’t include the stands of shagbark hickories I found! This hillside is very easy to get to, and should be a great spot to walk my kids into during the darkness just before dawn. This makes five good pockets I can use for putting squirrels in the freezer. I should start stocking up on barbeque sauce.

A critter crossroads.

Also, though it’s too soon to tell, I may have found a decent stand for this late muzzleloader deer season. That is if I can come by a rifle this year like I did last, thanks to a very good friend. It is kind of hard to describe this spot. It seems to be a crossroads of well worn paths that come and go between features that deer visit. A field to the north, a stream to the east, a stand of cedars to bed under to the south, and mast trees all round. Looks good to me anyway, but I’ll have to keep tabs on it as the year progresses. And who’s to say I will make it out come deer season? I cannot make that promise to myself or to you. But I do have the squirrels and ducks and trout covered, so there, at least, is the making of an awesome fall already.

Until I can write again (which will be soon – I have most of next week off and plan on going trout fishing at least once) –

Take care –

Casey

P.S. The pics I have been taking lately have not turned out well, but I did get a good BEER shot this past Monday. And it is highly recommended by this beer drinker. Also, Oktoberfest will be here soon, and Sam Adams made a high quality one last year. So I’m recommending that already, too.

A guzzler, I assure you.

Read Full Post »

Mason finds a chunk of sandstone with a hole being worn into it.

Sometimes I wonder what I will feel responsible for as I’m nearing my deathbed (a good many years off, hopefully!), and look back at life. For some folks, it may be the sins they feel they have committed and are not sure they have been forgiven of. For others, they may look back and feel that they have contributed good things to the world around them; either their work was important or their children were able to become doctors or ambassadors or whatever.

Photo of thistle flower by Mason.

Being the father of four children, and someone who does a significant amount of wondering, sometimes I flash-forward and ponder what marks my children may make upon the world. I can dream big of them! Then reality and teenage years come along and make a mess of all that. But as long as they become HAPPY people, I’ll think that is contribution enough. That seems a hard enough accomplishment these days. And so far, so good, I think with the one who has left the nest, and a couple more getting ready within the next few years.

My last kid, who is only ten, is going to turn out alright, too. As we made a morning hike this fine day, several pieces of pleasant and fantastic conversation came up, and I’ll relate two of them here as proof that he’ll be just fine and happy.

The path...

A trail we walked reminded him of the path Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippen had fell upon in the movie, The Fellowship Of The Ring. The path where they fall into mushrooms. My boy stops and looks ahead, points and says, “Dad this is like in the Lord Of The Rings!” As we look ahead and I agree with him, a wind comes up and leaves fall from the trees to the path and roll towards us. “See?” That’s my boy.

The second bit happened whenever we came upon stretches of the trail that were rocky. He has always seemed to like rocks, and is always picking them up and asking about them. Unfortunately, I am no good with rocks. Flora and fauna has always appealed to this walker. But I promised him the next time we make it to the book store that we would buy a rocks and minerals field guide. I would like to learn more about those myself.

On a mission...

He spots a red object off the trail, yet not quite in the woods. “Aha!” he says. But he seems disappointed when he finds that is a mushroom. “I thought it was a sunstone. Have you ever found one?”

I told him that I had never heard of a sunstone before.

“It’s in the wizard book,” he says and gives me a look. By this he means our Wand Maker’s Guide Book, and what it says about sunstones is that if one is embedded in your wand, the power of the wand will be enhanced.

I hope he finds one some day. He has a wand of oak that we carved awhile back, and oak is used for protection. I’ll find a way to embed that rock for all the enhanced protection it can afford. Got me a wizard in the making.

Here are more photos of our walk this morning. I hope you enjoy them!

Until I can write again – peace and take care.

Your friend –

Casey

Woodland sunflower.

Indian pipe. The pine woods are full of them.

A brown snake! I love snakes.

This spider web looked like a CD hanging in the middle of the air, or maybe it was a time warp vortex!

I only had one one mushroom pic that looked good. Damn it.

Read Full Post »

The trail I walked in the Countryside Round, marked in red.

A couple of hours were available to me yesterday morning, so I was up with the sun and on a trail just as the sun crested the hills to the east. Four or five miles (I haven’t put a string to it) were walked up and down hills, through woods and fields, and along waterways. Along with the excersize, I wanted to see how the woods had fared through the Heat Moon, as the Thunder Moon starts tomorrow.

A young maple showing the signs of enduring a rough year.

And it does look like the Heat Moon, in cohorts with all of the rain the woods have received this year, has taken a bit of a toll. The top of the forest canopy still looks pretty healthy, as does the forest floor, which is still flush with green. But the mid-story level of the woods is showing signs of fatigue. Rust is appearing on the leaves of the smaller trees, some of the staghorn sumac leaves are turning red, and the walnut tree leaves are fading to a pale yellow and falling in quantity when a stronger gust of wind finds them. Of course, being a human, I can witness all this “life is fading in the woods” and try to put a dramatic tone to it. But I’m sure the woods, after all these millenia, is quite expecting this fading, and really couldn’t do without it.

Sure has me thinking of fall and the hunting seasons! Squirrel season starts in less than a month, and an early duck season starts a few weeks after that…That will be some life and death drama – literally.

What used to be a road provided part of the trail.

But back to the walking! And a question!

Have you a piece of the land that you consider “adopted” by you? By this I mean do you have an area that you know like the back of your hand, and know intimately? Where the stands of birches and cottonwoods are, where each oak or hickory tree is located, what kinds of wild fruit trees and berry bushes provide for the critters and possibly yourself, where the sources of water run, and where the major animal trails lead from and to and why, what woodland wildflowers show themselves in the early springtime?

Some of the road is a bit more overgrown, and part of the trail is not road at all, so it wasn't all this easy!

This area has all the makings of an “El Dorado” for this particular walker. I love the trails and the land surrounding and between them. Provisions of the best sort could be had here. From game meat (deer, squirrel, turkey, rabbit, raccoon, and groundhog sign were all present this day) to fruit and vegetable foodstuffs (wild plums, blackberries, sumac shoots, mast trees, and I remember a wild apple tree that a friend and I found morel mushrooms under two years ago, right off this trail!). Very tempting, yes….And a lake to provide fish is not far away.

That is really all I can write to you for now, as two pieces of less than good news are affecting lives of this family for the next few days, weeks and months, and my mind is sure to be a little discombobulated for a bit. But – I’m sure it will all make me take to the trails more than usual to help work it all out, so at least that is something.

Until I can write again, peace and take care!

Your friend,

Casey

P.S. Here are a couple more photos taken during my walk. I hope you enjoy them!

One of the last flowering weeds before fall - goldenrod.

The greens are not so green anymore.

Sumac red - bring it on!

Ripened wild plums. And something has been enjoying them. See that matted-down grass below them?

A stand of cottonwoods and birches. These are my favorite trees, as their leaves seem to be waving Hello! to you in the slightest of breezes.

Small puffball mushrooms in the trail.

Read Full Post »

Ol' Trapper

Sticklebacks! It’s been hot!! And very rainy, too. A person would think, if they had never been here in the winter, that the Countryside Round were a part of the tropics instead of northeast Iowa! And still I get the urge to wander around outside?

I could have stayed in the shade offered by the inside of my house, complete with air conditioning, and enjoyed the simple, delicious comfort that comes from kicking your feet up and watching a baseball game while taste-testing the day’s freshly baked zuchinni bread (and chocolate zuchinni bread!). But I feel deep down, that when conditions seem to be more than what you prefer, you should test yourself against them a bit, just to see where your limits seem to be set lately.

I love the blues and greens of a marsh.

And so, with Trapper’s company, I did. I am not a fan of temperatures above 90 degrees, but by the time I had finished supper and prepared us to go, the temperature had dropped to 88, and there was a steady breeze to offset the oppressive humidity. Off we went to visit the marsh where I shoot most of my ducks. I like to visit the marsh a couple of times each summer, just to get a feel what it’s like during the times I’m not normally using it.

June berries? More study needed on my part.

A sad reminder overwhelms me as I walk the trails here. The times seem farther between and fewer that I make trips specifically into the wilder edges to collect foodstuffs that are overlooked by most people. Everywhere I look, plants stand out that are known as edible. I’ll admit that I have not tried them all, but there is a list in my head that I run through every time I’m out, and many were on display during my short walk. But, alas, my time available is short, and I wish to spend this time with my mind trying to absorb all it can of the sights, sounds, and smells.

And there was a smell, let me tell you, on the trail through a piece of low-lying woods we walked through. Something smelled dead, and sure enough I found it’s source as I was dodging the puddles on the path. The woods must have been under water for quite some time. Earthworms, large and small, decomposing into the warm, wet earth lent their perfume to the still air under the trees. Some of you may know the odor of rotting worms from the days you used to spend fishing with them, and then forgetting and leaving them somewhere inconvenient. This was how the woods smelled. I hope it’s long gone before squirrel season gets here, as I harvest some from here every year.

This one has some meat on it. Hopefully it, or one like it, will be around yet this fall.

But there is a lot of life still happening! Trapper and I jumped several wood ducks and mallards from the cattails, and heard wood ducks squealing away on the creeks meandering through the timber. We also moved off some Canada geese from the trail. They didn’t seem too worried about us, but still kept a distance far enough away that the photos I took did not turn out well. The same applies for the ducks. It is hard to sneak up them when I’m letting Trapper play more than hunt. And the insects are doing EXTREMELY¬† well right now. Our ears and eyes were constantly swarmed around. Funny to think that they won’t be around this coming Long Night Moon (December) when I’m stalking the woods for a whitetail.

If this heat keeps up, I will have to make a trip to a cold, spring fed creek near me to wade and get cool, and perhaps spin for a few of the trout that swim in it. Well, I was planning on doing that soon anyhow, as my freezer is getting low on it’s supply of fish. Catfish, bass, and walleye fillets (bless the generosity of my brother) are thawing as I write this, so replenishment is on the order. Hopefully, I’ll have something of that to share with you soon.

Until then – Peace, Cheers!! and enjoy a few more photos I took during our walk.

Your friend –

Casey

A sign of autumn approaching? This maple is standing in water, which may have something to do with it's turning color sooner.

Young sumacs! Berries to make sumac-ade and trap dye.

The hickory nuts are swelling!

Wild grapes, still green.

I sent Trapper into the water to cool off, but he was trying to lap up scent! Atta boy!

P.S. – And after getting home and washing up, I was able to enjoy some of that chocolate zuchinni bread! Mmmmm.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: