Sunday, November 13, 2016

November 13, 2016 Hiking at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

I took the dogs hiking today at the former Joliet Arsenal location. It is now called Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. The Forest service is restoring this area back to it's original tallgrass prairie just like it was before white people arrived. As part of that restoration, they reintroduced bison to this park last year. I hope to find the bison herd on this beautiful autumn day in Chicagoland.

It's that time of year around here. Even if it still feels more like September than November.

We started at the Iron Bridge Trailhead to the Group 63 Loop Trail. This trail took us past all the bunkers from when this area was known as the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant. This bunker was left open so I decided to check it out.
The dogs ran into this concrete bunker but they both freaked out from the echo in there. I kept calling their names because it was amusing to me. But they would not come back inside.

We hiked about a mile down the bison fence along the Group 63 Loop trail...

...but we only saw more bunkers. 

Oslo looked tired so we headed back toward the car.

At the junction to head back to the car, Oslo decided to hike the other way toward the Iron Bridge.

This is the first section of the park where the tallgrass prairie has been restored. 

There were these oversized seed balls along the Iron Bridge trail.

I tried to get Oslo to head back to the car when we reached the Iron Bridge but he decided to walk along this trail which runs south parallel to Route 53. 

I could see the bison herd in the distance but the dogs could not see them. As we walked over the rolling hills, this was the first time they saw the bison. Oslo didn't seem to care, but Nola started pulling on her leash like she saw a squirrel. I held her back as much as I could telling her those are not squirrels.

She calmed down when we got this close to them. But the big male bison decided to move up the hill and join the rest of the herd...and all the bison down here followed him.

We hiked to the next viewing area, Oslo flopped down and rested. I tied Nola to a bench where she seemed to check out the bison but wasn't overly interested in them. I sat on the grassy hill and took pictures and relaxed in the sunshine.

It really is amazing to see bison here. So I enjoyed my time watching the herd grazing on the prairie grass. I am pretty sure the small one on the left was born here in the past year.

Oslo and I relaxed while Nola stood guard over the two old guys.

Something caused all these birds to take off suddenly. Most of them we standing on the backs of the bison.

This is one of several big males in this herd...

...and he decided it was time to rest too.
Nola decided it was time to move on... we did. I was impressed by Oslo today. We hiked about 5 miles today. When we got back to the trailhead there was a white horse that caused Nola to freeze in her tracks. She didn't know what to make of this giant animal. Once again I just laughed at her but she wouldn't take her eyes off of that horse until it was out of site. Twenty bison no big deal for her but one white horse and she doesn't know what to do. So I had her drive us home and me and Oslo slept all the way back home.

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