Illinois Ozarks

Eastern Cardinal Calling

We are still out in the woods, roughing it. This is our second trip to Shawnee and on both expeditions the nights have been unseasonably cold. Unlike last time though, this time we are much better prepared for the cold weather.

The whippoorwill visited us again last night, while we were sitting around the fire and made quite the auditory display, but no 6 AM wakeup call this morning, so I guess that he is beginning to forgive me for my iBird distraction. Last night, he and you know it has to be a male, he landed in a cedar at the edge of our site and loudly called out, “WHIP-poor-WEEA”, about 26 times in a row. Then it switched to a clucking vocalization, before giving its flying call and flew away.

During the day, we’ve been hiking in the woods. Yesterday morning, we walked the Rim Rock Trail, a National Recreation Trail. Points of interest include Fat Man’s Squeeze, where the trail treads between tightly spaced split boulders. It wasn’t as tight as its name implied. We hiked to Pounds Hollow Lake. Here pounds is an old English term for a closed-in area. In the afternoon, we came back to the campsite for lunch and then got a little lost doing some of the trails through the Garden of the Gods wilderness area.

Today’s hikes included Burden Falls, one of the tallest Illinois waterfalls and Bell Smith Spring, a summer swimming hole. We had the falls practically to ourselves, but the spring was packed with visitors. We also visited Trig Tower, a rickety old fire watch tower, before returning to camp for the evening.

Part of the purpose of this trip, other than getting out and enjoying nature, was to serve as a shakedown trip for this summer’s planned longer excursion west. It has served this purpose well, because we’ve certainly learned a lot already. We plan on doing much more camping on this trip, than last year’s Utah trip, which was 50/50 tent camping and staying in motels. 

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