Monday, October 31, 2011

Hike 7--Halloween Hike

Today is Halloween so Mommy took the day off. She always does that because she knows that if I had to spend the afternoon having strangers knocking on the door and not being able to open it she'd find a big mess when she got home. She could take a half day off, but she figures it is better to take the whole day and have fun. So, today we took our 7th, or 11th, hike. It was a 2.9 mile hike so it counted as two.

We've never gone to this preserve because it is relatively new. It is a glacial lake surrounded by wetlands, prairie and a small oak forest. It used to be a farm so the wetlands were all tiled and drained and cultivated and the county has been bringing it back to its natural state. We didn't know what to expect from this forest preserve but it was very nice. Mommy said we should have done it two weeks ago because it would have been spectacular during color when the fall wildflowers were still in bloom. As it is, we seem to have done the hike just a few days after half of the prairie was mowed.

That is the sad thing with the newer preserves. In order to get the right plants growing they have to plow the ground up a whole bunch, then they seed and plant new trees and stuff and then, for a few years after planting they have to mow the prairie in mid-summer and fall. This kills off a bunch of the invasive plants, and lets the replanted natives grow better, but it means that there are some very ugly times of year for awhile. After the native plants are established and most of the invasives are gone the county burns the prairies occaasionally to help the plants. Mommy likes walking after the burns because you can see how all the plants send up new shoots through the soot. I prefer mowing because the small animals don't all run away for a few weeks like they do during the burns and I can sniff for a lot of mice and voles and stuff.

The lake in the center of the preserve is still being fixed up so you can't go down to it, but you could see it from a bunch of spots and it is very nice. Also, where they hadn't mowed the prairie, Mommy enjoyed "the ghosts of wildflowers past". That is what she calls it when the plants all go to seed and instead of having an expanse of purple and yellow and red and orange flowers you have an expanse of seeds still clinging to where the flowers were so you see white and black and brown ghosts of flowers. This was very fitting for a Halloween hike if you ask me. The best part about the hike was that we saw two trumpeter swans flying overhead AND, by one of the woodsy areas, I scared a coyote!

Mowed prairie

Unmowed prairie
(they always mow down about 4 feet on either side of the trails because a lot of people are stupid and complain when things come out of the prairie straight onto the trails in front of their bikes, or if they pick up ticks on the trail.)

Mommy heading towards the oak woods in the distance. You can see a little red and yellow.
Imagine what that would look like during color!

Heading home.
(Mommy liked when she accidentally got some shots of me so she is leaving the camera on on our rides home now.)

Aaaah! I picked up a tick on my hike!
Just kidding. That is me in my Halloween costume.


emily said...

I'm glad you decided to dress up this year!

Did you get a special cookie for putting something on?

Shawnee the Shepherd said...

OMD, that do be a skeery kostoom. Yup, dressing up like a creepy crawly tick do be a good howloween kostoom. Shudder