Tag Archives: Hiking

Celery Bog Event April 10

An upcoming event sponsored by the Friends of Celery Bog in West Lafayette:


Saturday, APRIL 10, 2010 – Celery Bog Nature Area

(on north side of Lindberg Rd, between Northwestern & McCormick in West Lafayette)

Morning Bird Walks led by Sycamore Audubon Society members Temple Pearson and Susan Ulrich:

9, 10, and 11am—Meet at Lilly Nature Center; bring binoculars and/or enjoy on-site spotting scope!

10am Wetland Wonders Walk led by Naturalist Mary Cutler: meet at Lilly Nature Center.

1pm Tree Planting led by Stewardship Coordinator Dan Dunten: meet at blue canopy tent along drive

West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis will be there to kick off this West Lafayette Arbor Day event!

Join the fun and help plant about 60 young plants, mainly Buttonbush and Bald Cypress,

donated by Jan Myers for enhancing the habitat at Celery Bog Nature Area!

2pm Butterfly Garden Talk led by Master Gardener Lynn Layden & Entomologist John MacDonald

Afternoon Wildflower Walks led by Sam Postlethwait & Nick Harby:

2, 3, and 4pm—Meet at Lilly Nature Center.

“The NATURE of Art” Mini-workshops:

Children’s 45-minute workshop ($2) taught by Rachelle Sipple at 10 & 11am, and 1,2, & 3pm

Adult 2-hour watercolor workshop ($10) taught by Rena Brouwer (Basic supplies provided or bring your own.)

10am-12noon Basic Landscape Design and Technique

1:30-3:30pm Painting Intimate Studies of Nature

LIMITED SEATING:  to secure a space, e-mail Rachelle beau.monde@gmx.us for children’s time slot;

e-mail Rena wcrena@tipmont.net for adult workshop;

OR, if space is still available, sign-up during the day at Lilly Nature Center.

WETLAND Family Activities (all day) led by Naturalist Mary Cutler and Holly Houser.

INDOOR Celery Bog NATURE VIDEOS (all day) provided by Sam Postlethwait.

ART EXHIBIT (Work Inspired by Celery Bog & Wetlands):

contributions by invited area artists and coordinated by Rena Brouwer and Brenda Moore;

items will be on display in the Lilly Nature Center classroom through the end of May.



Refreshments provided by Master Gardeners and coordinated by Sue Hiser.

Live music by local Performing Songwriters Joe Peters, Linda Hicks & Christi Clore aka “Deep & Simple”

~ Introduction to Friends of Celery Bog and the evening by Joan Mohr Samuels, event coordinator

~ “Celery Bog History in a Nutshell—from Glacier to Marsh” by Naturalist Mary Cutler

~ Readings by Women’s Creative Writing Group and coordinated by Nancy Patchen

~ “Art and the Celery Bog” by Jim Mailloux

~ Live music/art performance by “Deep & Simple” and Rena Brouwer—painting to “The Celery Bog Suite”


PLEASE NOTE:  Lilly Nature Center parking is limited—so come by bus, bike, or foot if you can!!!

This event is sponsored by Friends of Celery Bog in cooperation with

the Park Departments of West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County, and many volunteers including those

from Lilly Nature Center, Sycamore Audubon Society, Master Gardeners, and INPAWS!

O’Bannon Woods Camping Trip

To finish up on yesterday’s post, once we had extracted ourselves from Squire Boone Caverns, it was time to head down the road to O’Bannon State Park, Indiana’s newest.

The park is surrounded by Harrison-Crawford State Forest and in fact had been state forest land until just a few years ago when the central part of the forest was converted into park land in honor of former governor Frank O’Bannon, who hailed from nearby Corydon.

I had visited the area around 15-20 years ago on my first solo backpacking trip.  I was planning on hiking the Adventure Hiking Trail, one of the only (at that time) backpacking long-distance trails in the state.

What I found at the time was an area with little to no recreational facilities and a complex and poorly marked network of trails.  I later realized that horse trails and hiking trails were never printed on the same maps but not really marked on the ground.  I did stay overnight but gave up and went home after considering the good possibility of getting lost in the remote region.

Wyandotte Lake

Now, things are much more developed, the Adventure Hiking Trail has been shortened and there are abundant recreational facilities.

We stayed in the park’s single campground, a large affair ridge top affair that only held a smattering of other campers.   As nearly every site was situated adjacent to the side of the hilltop, the entire campground was very breezy and comfortable.

If you ignore the flaming idiot who played his stereo at top volume until well after dinner, it was all very enjoyable.

After dinner, we climbed the firetower, explored a bit and then headed back to camp to catch the final strains of country music wafting at top volume across the countryside.

Sharpe Spring

In the morning, we packed up and headed to Wyandotte Lake, a shallow spring-fed lake and wetland complex near the caves of the same name (all caves in the area are currently indefinitely closed due to the White Nose Fungus epidemic that is killing hibernating bats across the U.S.)  We hiked around the lake and then picked our way across a poorly-marked network of trails (including one that I believe was part of the ‘old’ Adventure Hiking Trail) and found Sharpe Spring, the source of the lake.

Sharpe Spring Outflow

The spring issues from the base of a cliff and is very large, judging by the good-sized creek that flows away from the several different outlet that form the watercourse.  We could only dream that perhaps the stream, with it’s pure water and mid-50-degree water year-round, held a small population of trout.

Unfortunately it was time to head back home after our 24-hour vacation from responsibility and we hit the road, slightly stinky, slightly tired and determined to return again for more explorations.


The good: a wild and scenic area that is abundant with rock formations, springs and caves.   There are abundant ‘civilized’ recreational opportunities and plenty of wild land to explore.

The not-so-good: the trails are sometimes  a little sketchy in the signage department, especially in Harrison-Crawford State Forest.  A good map, compass and GPS would help ease the worry of backcountry hiking in the area.  There is also little or no surface water due to the karst topography.

Center map
Get Directions

O’Bannon Woods State Park Website

O’Bannon Property Map

Harrison-Crawford State Forest Website

Adventure Hiking Trail trip report from Kywilderness.com



Squire Boone Caverns

We have just returned from deep in the earth under the gift shop.

If that introduction seems a little odd, you haven’t been to Squire Boon Caverns.

The entire staff of WildIndiana.com and our family love caves.  So, during our usual spring-break camping trip, we decided to take our Heir to the Throne to southern Indiana to visit yet another hole in the ground.

Our primary goal was Squire Boone Caverns, a commercial tour cave and tourist attraction deep in the southern Indiana hinterlands near the Ohio River.  According to legend, Colonel/Reverend  Squire Boone, brother of famed explorer Daniel Boone, discovered the cave while hiding from a band of indigenous peoples (otherwise known as “Indians”) who were apparently bent on using the good Squire’s hair as a knickknack.  Convinced he was delivered by divine providence, he returned to purchase the land and build a mill in 1808 that still stands.  As he considered the cave to be Holy Ground, he chose to be buried there upon his demise in 1850.

Driving two hours south from our home base in Central Indiana, we headed down to Corydon, our first state capital.  Following the signs on State Road 135 and then onto Squire Boone Road, we finally found the little commercial venture after deciding that we were possibly the victim of an enormous and well-played joke.

Having seen no traffic in 20 minutes, I was surprised to find the graveled parking lot did indeed hold several other vehicles belonging to likewise hard-to-discourage travelers.

Upon pulling into the parking lot, you are surrounded by Squire Boone Village.  This small square of wooden and log buildings houses craftspersons who demonstrate frontier skills such as candlemaking, soapmaking, famous explorer scalping and other rustic arts.  We’re joking about the scalping demonstration.  Unfortunately, being the “off season,” everything was closed.

Checking in at the well-appointed gift shop, we paid our $29.0o ticket for two adults and pondered how to spend the next 45 minutes waiting for the tour.

On the hill below the gift shop is the restored Boone’s Mill.   The large overshot waterwheel is supplied by a flume that gathers cold spring water from the lower levels of Squire Boone Cave.  We poked around for a moment, then headed back up the hill.

Still finding a few moments to spare, we followed the signs above the village to a small crack in the ground that was identified as Squire Boone’s Burial Cave.  According to the story we later learned while taking the tour, Squire was originally sealed in the cave but was later allegedly moved to the large cave that bears his name.  We say “allegedly” because it was revealed that he was never actually moved but family made sure the local hoodlums were convinced of the fact to prevent the ongoing grave robbing that apparently occurred with great regularity.

The burial cave is basically a pit that was undergoing excavation at the time of our visit.  By carefully peering over the ropes, we could see….a pit.  It’s worth the visit up the hill but don’t expect the Grotto of Lourdes.

It was finally our appointed tour time and we joined about 15 other people and our young guide…whose name, unfortunately escapes our grasp at this moment.  He was a college-aged young man who was both very knowledgeable and practiced in the art of shepherding visitors through the cave.

To our surprise, we learned that the entrance to the cave was via a secret door in the back of the gift shop.  Our guide explained the tour and made sure that everyone understood the physical requirements of the tour.   As we were to descend and then return to the cave proper via 73 wet steel steps down an impressive spiral staircase, he wanted to make sure everyone was up to the task.

Entering the staircase in much like descending into a dungeon.  Cold, most air immediately greets you and the steel steps and handrails are slick with humidity.   While the trip wasn’t exactly challenging, it was a bit nerve-wracking when you considered the possible consequences of a slip.  Fortunately, everyone made it.

At the bottom, we immediately entered a large gallery with a stream in the middle.  A well-graded, well-lit concrete path went into the cave and also included strong steel handrails, steps and grates where necessary.  Overall, once you had negotiated the spiral staircase, all other physical exertions were mundane.

Once past the first gallery, the cave becomes a fairyland of beautiful formations, interesting lighting and intriguing water features.  The guide pauses every few minutes to discuss various features within the cave and explain how they were formed.  There were several deep pits that make you glad that you are confined on a sturdy steel bridge.

The trip is out-and-back, turning around at the highlight of the trip: the waterfalls.  Here, what are reputed to be some of the largest rimstone dams in the U.S., the stream within the cave flows impressively over the mushroom-shaped features.  The sound is loud enough that you must nearly shout over the water and seeing the water rush under your feet is thrilling.

The trip lasted an hour and after what seemed only a few minutes, we began the thigh-burning trip to the surface.  In the cool cave air it didn’t seem quite to bad and we made it to the top, huffing and puffing into the unseasonable 80 degree air outside.

As it turns out, Squire actually was moved to this portion of the cave back in the 1970’s and you’ll pass his coffin.  Don’t forget to check out the pictures in the gift shop of the Squire’s skull and 27 bones that now reside in the coffin.

Center map
Get Directions

If you go:

Squire Boone Caverns Website

Wikipedia listing

Tomorrow: hiking & camping in O’Bannon State Park



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Welcome to March Madness

Welcome to March!  The calendar has finally turned to what I consider the Cruelest Month in Indiana.

It seems the next 31 days actually lasts approximately eight years, give or take a decade.  All hunting is just a memory, the weather outside ranges from lousy to horrific and fishing is only yet a dream.  I’ve heard March called “The season of mud.”  How true.

How many times can you clean the tackle box, thumb through outdoor catalogs and stare wistfully outside?  The current answer is 10,472 times, but that is just today.

However, in an effort to help the outdoors enthusiasts from going completely bonkers, here are a few things I’ve come up with to take my own feeble mind off the fact that the walls of my office move in a few inches whenever I’m not paying attention.

Hiking- When you can grab onto stretch of good weather, I believe March is prime hiking time in Indiana.

First and foremost there is solitude.  I can guarantee that a hike in March, especially during mid-week, will offer as much aloneness as you will ever find in the Hoosier state.  Assuming you avoid state parks on nice weekend days, it would be unusual to run into more than one or two people on the trail.

Moreover, there are no bugs, the temperatures are very comfortable for making miles and the landscape vistas are much more open with no leaves on the forest.

The only downsides to hiking this time of year is the possibility of the weather suddenly turning nasty and lack of services in most areas.  Both these problems are easily overcome with a little preparation and commonsense, two things that hikers are supposed to embody.

Fishing- Yes, Virginia, there are fishing opportunities available.  In fact, according to my records, I took a nice string of crappie on March 15 several years ago in the Raccoon Lake spillway.  Tomorrow, I am planning on a carp fly-fishing expedition to a nearby creek where the big brown fish congregate below a municipal sewage outflow (write your own joke here).

Tailwater fishing for various species begin to heat-up with the weather, especially pre-spawn walleye fishing.  For those so inclined, the sucker run peaks in March if you are seeking a fish that is extremely sweet and tasty and will pierce your tongue with thousands of needle-sharp bones.

Geocaching- I feel like I’ve beaten this topic to death, but I do find geocaching absolutely wonderful, especially as a family activity.  In fact, I just heard a story from friends about how my son managed to get their boat back to the cabin on Dale Hollow last summer on a foggy night by using the GPS.  That was really a Proud Dad moment.

GPS units are so inexpensive that there is really no excuse not to take the family out for a day of geocaching.  It’s good, clean fun and a great adventure, even with young kids.  Since you are typically operating out of your vehicle between caches, it is easy to change plans and head home if the weather turns lousy or members of the expedition get tired.

Birdwatching- As I sit here at my desk, there is a woodpecker digging for lunch in the maple tree outside my window.  It is fascinating to watch him repeatedly pounding his bill into the bark in search of tasty grub.  One can only imagine the migraine headaches those birds endure.

Now is a good time to grab binoculars and head afield to look for interesting feathered friends.  Just an hour ago, I saw a giant flight of sandhill cranes winging northward and I have seen several species of birds is this area that had been absent for a considerable time.

Make a schedule- This is the best time of year to sit down and make a list of all those crazy things you want to do in the coming months.  I’ve found via hard experience that unless something is set in stone on your calendar, life will always get in the way of recreation.

This doesn’t only apply to those major trips involving airline reservations and hiring guides.  If you simply want to go canoeing on a new river, pick a date and put it on the calendar.  Then, you’re far more likely to keep that time cleared for outdoor adventure.  If something happens that you must cancel the trip, it’s not such a big deal but keeping things as a mental “to-do” invariably leads to future cold winter nights when you think, “Wow, I wish I had done that (hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, ect) trip.  Maybe next year.”

As the old slogan says, just do it!

Unfortunately, space constraints must put an end to this column.  If you’ll excuse me, there is still one wall in my office that I haven’t climbed yet.

Snow kidding- Go Geocaching at Spring Mill S.P.

While winter is descending with a vengeance, let’s hope that by this weekend we might be ready to go afield.  Well, actually we will all be ready to get outdoors but we will see if the weather conditions allow us to get further afield than our mailbox.

Assuming travel is safe, consider hitting Spring Mill State Park this weekend for a geocaching challenge.   As both regular readers know, we are HUGE fans of geocaching and highly recommend it as a great family activity.

Read more from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources below:

Spring Mill State Park will host its fifth annual geocache challenge on Saturday, Feb. 5. The challenge is a multi-stage quest that will take participants on a unique tour of the park.

Participants can begin the challenge anytime between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. This year’s theme is “Big Trees.” Geocachers should bring their own GPS unit.

Instructions and coordinates to the first cache will be given out at the nature nook, located next to the game room of Spring Mill Inn. The first individual or team to complete the challenge will receive a special prize.

“The geocache challenge is designed to be completed in less than three hours and is a great way to explore the park,” said Coletta Prewitt, program coordinator.

Regular park admission fees will be in effect.

For more information, contact Coletta Prewitt at (812) 849-3534 or cprewitt@dnr.IN.gov.

Farm Heritage Rail Trail: Clean up after yourself!

We rarely become outraged while outdoors.  Finding initials carved into trees or a historic cabin will send us into a paroxysm of anger but otherwise we try to “live and let live” when rambling in the wild.

However, when we hiked the new Farm Heritage Trail yesterday from the Lebanon trailhead, we couldn’t help becoming furious:

Curb your damn dogs!!

Having hiked and biked on rail-trails throughout the state and nation, I have never seen a larger collection of dog dumplings than in the first half mile of the brand new trail.  Moreover, we’re not talking about a little doggy indescretion along the right-of-way; we can’t believe the enormous amount of poo sitting right in the middle of the trail.

It would appear that nearby residents are using the trail as a daily dog walk.  This is wonderful and increases the number of trail users but why can they not clean up after their pooch fouls the middle of the trail???

The reason is pure and simple laziness.

If you walk your dog in public spaces, always carry a bag and clean up when your  dog uses the middle of a trail as a latrine.  Otherwise, we can only hope you are the one who inadvertently steps into one of the little gifts left behind by another inconsiderate dog owner.