Thursday, November 21, 2019

November 17, 2019 Escaping the Noise with Two Good Dogs and Two Great Songwriters

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be"

I am not too proud to admit that the current state of our country has me wanting to escape from reality a little bit more every day. The best escapes I have found are music (I heard Let It Be by the Beatles on my drive to Gary) and taking my dogs on a hike.

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be"
For the most part it is just the three of us. Enjoying the sounds of nature...and sometimes a train, plane or automobile. 

Today's hike is along the varied terrain of the Paul H. Douglass trail. Formerly known as the Miller Woods trail in the Indiana Dunes National Park. This is a great hike in the fall but as you can see winter arrived early this year.

"And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be"

There may not be a more diverse hike in this area. It starts out with a couple of small lakes near the Educational Center. 

"For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be"

The falling leaves have frozen into the ice on the lakes. It looks like we are in for a long winter.

As we hike north toward Lake Michigan, we enter a rare black oak savanna in a dune and swale area.

There are a series of ridges or dunes and the low areas in between are swales with marshes or ponds.

The NPS has done a great job with informative signs throughout the parks here.

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Yeah, there will be an answer, let it be"

Yeti loving the snow up on a dune with wetlands below in the swale.

The predominate color this fall has been brown. But I love hearing the wind rustle the tall grass so I relaxed here for a few minutes.

You get prairie, forest and wetlands in the first part of this hike. If it wasn't for the nearby train tracks and the steel mills to the west, you could imagine being in the middle of nowhere while hiking here.

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be"

Mother Nature showing how tough she can be as this tree tries to hang on as the dune erodes along the trail.

The world changes as you cross this bridge...

...and now you are hiking on sand dunes along an inland lake.

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be"

These two goofballs kept making me laugh. Because the trail was very narrow and they kept trying to pass each other to be the lead dog.

The trail winds around several dunes along the inland lake. 

"And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be"

The final section takes us over the dunes to Lake Michigan.

Even though I've done this on every trail in the dunes, I still love seeing the lake for the first time on a hike.

Stopped again to enjoy the wind blowing through the dune grass.

After our 1.6 mile hike to the lake, it was time for a cold drink.

Yeti stayed in the lake.

Looking west toward U.S Steel

People say the reason dogs love you is because you give them everything they need. But I feel the same way about them. Sure I wish I could ignore them and sleep for a few more hours. But I always feel better when I get up and take them somewhere. 

I think Yeti would have stayed in the lake all day long.

Yeti eventually joined us relaxing on the beach.

Nola seems to relax more and let Yeti be the new guard dog.

Yeti on guard even though there was no one in sight this morning.

"I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be"

Some days I'm glad to be alone on the beach or the trails. I needed an escape from the world today. And I definitely got one.

The sun kept trying to break through the clouds as we headed back.

As you can see, the dune erosion continues on all the beaches in Indiana.
The dogs jumped right up to the trail. This old man had to climb up to the trail.

Due to the high water over the dunes inland, the trail was rerouted to the east.

The sun shined on us for about five minutes...

...I tried to take as many pictures as I could.

The sun definitely lit up the pictures nicely.

The ice held the dogs. I didn't check if it could hold me.

This is a very scenic hike with so many geological features. 

It's kind of a shame our area has such a bad reputation for being strictly industrial. When there are so many beautiful natural places to visit. 

The hike back is much slower now that the dogs are a bit tired. That's fine with me. I love being outdoors in such a beautiful and peaceful area where the rest of the world doesn't exist. Some days I need this, other days I need friends and family. So please join me on a hike.

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be"

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be"

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be"
- Lyrics by John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Saturday, November 16, 2019

November 16, 2019 The Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk

After seeing the damage caused by storms here in the past two weeks, I decided to bring the dogs to the Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk section of the Indiana Dunes National Park. This little park used to be the dumping area for the steel company across Burns Waterway. Now it is a brownfield success story that became the newest area of the Indiana Dunes National Park in 2008.

We parked by the pavilion and walked along the dunes side path. The rising lake levels combined with the storm surge last week caused a breach in the dunes for the first time. This area is usually just wet after heavy rains or snow melt.
Since winter has already arrived, I can't use my "winter is coming" comment. But the nice thing about having 30 MPH winds on an 8 degree day in November is that when it gets to 40 degrees and sunshine, it feels wonderfully warm.

It's true...if your not the lead dog...the view never changes.

I truly love walking through the dunes on sunny days.

My hiking partners checking out Burns Waterway and the steel mill across the water.

Nola gets distracted easily.

So this is the riverwalk. It has a sand dune on the left and a steel mill on the right. This might seem strange but for Northwest is perfect.

As you walk toward the protected harbor, there is a more natural landscape.

This view is from another boardwalk on Burns Waterway. This is the ice covered shoreline below the parking lot.

The view across the harbor with the breakwall in the distance. The lake is really calm today.

This is the area that suffered the most damage in the past week or so. As the dunes to the left of here collapsed the concrete overlook fell into the lake. You can see the debris sitting offshore in the water. There is no longer access to the beach area. But since there is hardly any beach left, I guess the lack of access isn't that big of a problem.

The NPS blocked off access to the breakwall too.

The storm surge rose up this dune. There is still ice about 15 - 30 feet above the water line here.

Winter can be devastatingly beautiful to me. 

Looking northwest past the breakwall at Lake Michigan.

I really enjoyed meeting the couple in this photo. We had a wonderful conversation about dogs, winter, the dunes, the steel mills and the history of this area. I always seem to run into interesting people on my hikes.

The view from the pavilion of the ice covered trees and breakwall. 

Yes it is.

The dunes side of the pavilion with the sun shining on the ice.

I couldn't decide which shot looked better. At first I didn't like the bright sun section of the first photo, but the longer I looked at it the more I liked it. In the end I liked both photos. The NPS is strapped for cash so I have no idea if this will get rebuilt. I love all these great outdoor places that I visit. I wish we lived in a world where more importance was placed on protecting our natural areas than trying to exploit them for short term profits. That would be a better world in my opinion.