The Hike - Day 2 - 5/23/2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
So day 2 of hiking at Mississippi Palisades state park, and already I'm a bit sore. Sleeping last
night also proved a bit rough. The child's tent didn't quite cut it. Even sleeping diagonally in the
tent, I still had tent in my face as my head was in the top corner and my feet just barely fit in
the far bottom corner, and of course, because of tent sweat, the bottom of my sleeping bag
was damp. And the muscles are starting to stiffen just a bit, but I'm not sure whether it's from
random attempts throughout the night to sleep in fetal position or the hike from yesterday…
Anyways, so we start the hikes. The South trail system is supposed to be more difficult, but the
first trail, the Prairie View trail disappoints…
As the trails are closed until 7:30 A.M. I positioned myself to enter the first trail at exactly 7:30
A.M. and as the name implies, it is a prairie hike
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The highlight of the hike is a platform in the middle of the field off the trail. Yeah, I know I said
I'd stay on the trails…but truly…It's the middle of a field…How much trouble could I get into?
Anyway, the pictures below are taken from the platform….
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It is a loop trail and this picture shows the apex of the loop which is a parking spot where
hunters can access the park in the fall and winter...
At the apex, finding the trail improved impossible. While one assumes that it would continue to
follow the woodline on the other side of the field, the path is so overgrown as to be impossible
to follow. So rather than continuing around, I turned around and my way back the way I came.
Although these are supposed to be the more difficult hikes, the only true difficulty on this trail
was finding the path..
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Pine Trail lived up to expectations as was a bit more challenging and quite lovely…
The path differed from the previous paths in that it started out going downhill
It was unusual seeing bumble bees in the middle of the forest, as I usually associate these with
meadows, fields, and lawns. Perhaps the draw for them was this honeysuckle tree?...
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The grade down increases on this trail and we start seeing switchbacks, although at this point it
hardly needs such measures. Not the shortcut from my path to the path below which I did not
The path below can be seen from the path above….
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Ferns grow rampant along this trail…
And once again from where we are at on the trail we can look down and see where we are
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At the bottom of the trail we reach a wood bridge that spans a dried river bed, although it is not
too try and I imagine that it fills after a good rain…
And the dried river bed can be seen in the following pictures upstream and downstream….
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Anyway, what goes down, must come up…Wait….That's not quite right…Anyway, the trail starts
to ascend the other side of the valley and we come to our first obstacle…
Which is less of an obstacle and more of a climbing toy. So jumping on top of it, we get a view
of the bridge from the other side of the dried river bed…
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And to give some perspective on the size of the climbing toy, a picture of my feet on the log…
Continuing on the trail, we reach another small bridge covering places where the path has
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And looking down we see how far up we've risen from the valley floor below…
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Continuing to follow the trail, we reach a lookout point. The pictures below show views from
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And finally reach a sign that warns us the trail ends…
But despite my best intentions, the lure is too much and I continue anyway and reach some
awesome rock formations…
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And eventually, the other trailhead…
So retracing my path….
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I reached some more interesting rocks…
And then encountered the road again. This time rather than climbing back into the forest, I
followed the road back to original trailhead.
Across the road from the Pine Trail trailhead, one found the trailhead for the Sentinel Trail…
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There was little gradient change between the trailhead and the lookout point…
But the trail was rather lovely under the canopy of huge trees and what can't be seen is the
tremendous drops on either side of the trail...
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And we reach the lookout point. Of course the rocks fascinate me…
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But the views from this point are outstanding as well, probably the best I've seen so far in the
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I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of a barge traveling up the river… or maybe down the river…I
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For perspective we see a man fishing at the bottom of the bluff near the road…
And a toy boat…
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Bridges, of course, both frighten and fascinate me…
Of course, not all of the photos were from the platform itself. I ducked to some of the rocks
under and around the platform and followed an unofficial trail that I had to climb over the
platform to reach.
After leaving the platform, I had to back track a few feet where the trail branched and
continued, this time descending…
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Much of this part of the trail was lined with fences…
And a tiny cave could be seen from the trail. Of course, I climbed up to it, although it wasn't
much of a cave…More of a shallow indentation….
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And then we pass some more interesting rocks…
And the trail finally loops around to the starting point.
So after finishing the last hike of the day, my legs of jello are telling me we should have done
the hard ones on day one, so that should are legs give out on us, we are not risking breaking
our necks climbing down rocks or steep hills. Falling on a flat easy path wouldn't be so
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Anyway, the Sunset trail was the last hike of the day…
And it started with these lovely stairs to climb…
As it is a large loop, one could traverse it clockwise or counterclockwise. I chose clockwise, but
as the path was quite narrow at spots, it became difficult when I encountered others who'd
chosen to travel it counterclockwise, like the group of 20 Japanese tourist at the end of the
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Anyway, following the trail around, we see more rocks. At one point, I could go around the
rocks or over the rocks… I chose to go over, of course…but then snuck back around to ensure I
didn't miss anything…
As I've been here for two days, and have no vanity shots, I figured this would be my last chance
to get a few to prove that I'd actually hiked these trails and didn't just download these photos
from someone else's website…
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Yeah, not so good…
So standing straight seems to be an issue when I'm sober…
And another small cave in those rocks…
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Several side trails lead to lovely vistas along the hike….
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And once again…I was here…
The loop is split in half by a road, so after the Overlook, we cross the road. The trail descends…
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And narrows significantly finally reaching a wooden bridge that spans a gully…
A view of the gully from the bridge…
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And a view of the bridge from the other side…
At this point the camera battery dies, which means, I'll have to invest in a second battery to
carry with me on these trips. But the trail climbs back up to the road.
Crossing the road, the path descends steeply in spots and remains narrow. Finally the trail
crosses yet another wooden bridge before reaching the wooden steps at the beginning of the
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And with this, time to head back, break camp, grab lunch, and head home. Perhaps chase the
painful muscles away with beers with Mike after reaching Iowa City later.
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