Saturday, January 4, 2020

January 2, 2020 A Beautiful January Day for a Hike in Indiana's National Park

Sometimes, when you hike is more important than where you hike. This morning was a perfect time to hike the Dune Succession Trail at West Beach in the Indiana Dunes National Park. The winter sun was shining from low in the southern sky and the deep blue sky with wisps of clouds or airplane contrails really enhanced the beautiful scenery along the hike.

This hike starts just off the main parking lot and heads east.

As you can see this is a popular trail. But I can't remember the last time I hiked this trail. That's not surprising, I can't remember much these days.

The NPS has built these stairs to protect the dune. They did a great job. Yeti pretty much ran right up them. We got to the top in about 5 minutes and that included stopping to take pictures. The stairs are done in short uphill sections followed by a level section. They are easy to climb.

The views keep getting better the higher you climb.

Even my dogs stopped to check out the view.

Almost to the top of the dune and Lake Michigan is looking very blue today.

As with most hikes in this area, a steel plant or a sign about steel plants is never far away.

There are some good size sand dunes right on the beach here.

Well this was unexpected. The back side of the dune is in constant shade this time of year so there is still snow and ice on these stairs. Lucky for me, Yeti actually listened every time I said "go slow" as I hugged the hand rail.

The snow made this hike even better for photos. My favorite hikes offer a wide variety of things to see. This hike already has sand dunes, forest, prairie, beach and a Great Lake. The unexpected snow was a bonus.

You can see where the sun shines on this dune.

Since I haven't hiked this trail in years, everything here is new to me. There are several dune blowouts along the trail to the beach.

The backside staircase is longer than the front side.

These two are pretty good about stopping so I can enjoy the views and take pictures.

There were so many great views...

...on this trail.

Pine trees to the east...

...wetlands to the west in the swales.

Yeti having fun in the national park.

The NPS has blocked a lot of old trails over these dunes to protect them.


Yeti with the sun shining on his ass.

The last section before the beach is through the sand and snow.

The sun lighting up the golden dune grass.

I hope this dune hasn't eroded away. We seem to be 10-15 feet above the beach.

Lucky for us, there is an easy slope down to the beach.

While I took pictures along the shoreline...

...Nola & Yeti got a cold drink of water.

Then we walked west along the beach.

The drop off the dunes here is well over ten feet.

It is such a beautiful day. I relaxed here on this half sunken tree trunk for as long as the dogs let me.

As usual Nola posed for me but Yeti wouldn't stand still...

...so here's another photo of Nola.

We continued hiking west on West Beach.

It was such a perfect day for a hike. I wanted to stay here for as long as possible. So we continued walking along the beach.

These are frozen chunks of sand that broke free from the dune. There is sand covered snow here too.

Just having fun with bare trees against that great sky.

Eventually we walked back to the Pavilion and took the paved path to the parking lot.
Along the way there was incredible scenery.

Nice reflection shots.

Even Yeti was impressed by the beauty of the dunes.

I can't say this enough, the sun lit these scenes perfectly. 

Just moving a few feet down the path created another amazing photo.

I took about 150 photos on this hike. Usually I would really like about 20 of them. 

But today I really like about 80 of them. 

I liked this shot with the fence...

...and basically the same shot without the fence. I hope you enjoyed the pictures from my hike today. But what I'd really like is to see your pictures when you do this hike. I love all these special places I visit. I hope you visit them and fall in love with them too. Years ago some people fought hard to protect this natural area from development. Thanks to them, I was able to enjoy it today. It is my hope that 100 years from now, someone will be able to enjoy this place as much as I did today.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

December 27, 2019 Our Nature and Industry Hike Around Wolf Lake

Wolf Lake is one of the many projects the City of Hammond has completed with casino money. Since Christy and I were both off of work today, we took the dogs for a five mile hike all the way around Wolf Lake. It has the typical Northwest Indiana combination of restored or protected natural areas and industrial areas. I can't easily explain why I love this combination, but I really love taking photos of nature and industry.

So off we go from the East side of Wolf Lake near the Pavilion. 

There are new information signs along the entire trail.

After spotting bald eagles in the trees on a island in Wolf Lake, we saw several swans looking for fish.

We also saw this industrial foam along the west shoreline.

Christy and Nola just off the paved trail.

On the north side of the lake is the huge Forsythe Park. It was about here that we decided to hike all the way around the lake.

Yeti walking along the cut grass beside the paved path.

It was about this area which obviously has a beaver nearby, that we saw a coyote sleeping in the park. At first we thought it was injured, but Christy saw it get up and walk toward the baseball fields.

Yeti sniffing his way along the lake shore.

The sun broke through the clouds as we headed toward Indianapolis Boulevard.

This is a Cargill factory across the lake.

Nature & Industry

Nola, Nature & Industry.

The beavers around here are impressive.

Street Art near the Cargill entrance on Indianapolis Blvd.

Nice work 0n this little building.

Me and Yeti heading to the Horseshoe Casino.

The trail cuts between the west side of the Cargill factory and behind the Walmart and ends up westbound on 112th Street where you walk under the Indiana Toll Road.

Then the trail heads south at the state line with Eggers Grove on the Illinois side.
Even though the power plant is no longer on Lake Michigan just north of here, you can still hear the electricity crackling on the wires above us. 

Sun and blue skies to the north.

Clouds to the south. This picture looks like a black & white photo with no post production.

Finally some color.

These signs are at every junction along the trail. 

Yeti and I were behind the girls most of the hike.

The sun broke through again to light up the tall grass.

The tall grass along the west side of Wolf  Lake

Nola has the best shadows.

There is a long bridge to get us over the lake on the west side.

We are right beside the Indiana Toll Road.

Great late afternoon sunlight.

Hiking back on the ground again with the sun to our right.

This is the view looking north with the sun at my back.

The sun warmed it up enough to remove a layer.

Nola closeup.

More fun with long shadows.

We took a few minutes to relax on the bench. near a split in the trail. We took the trail to the right back to the Pavilion and to our left takes you south to downtown Hammond.

Even Nola...

...and Yeti seemed to enjoy the rest.

I really enjoyed this long hike around the east side of Wolf Lake. As we walked back to the car, we agreed that a bike ride from home to Calumet Park would be a lot of fun too. Something to do in 2020. Happy New Year everyone...and let's be safe out there.