Saturday, March 28, 2015


A late fall trip to Iowa and what it calls State Parks. Lets say the camping fees and trails match the low price, so long as you follow the rules.

Anyway, we enter Lake MacBride State Park for a night.

 The some trees are releasing a fluffy seed that I've never seen before. It was all over the park.

On our way around the lake we find a pavilion. Had it been stocked with wood we may have stayed for lunch but as it was we headed off for a long hike.

 So far the park is nice and quite but with the odd seeds and now huge thorns I'm starting to question what's in the water?

If the thorns wasn't enough, how about a creepy vine that looks like a hairy centipede. 

The best part is the island dam and spillway. We walk this dike to the island in the distance to a waterfall of sorts. Our hike is almost over but we have a few miles to get back to camp for the night.

Next stop Palisades-Kepler State Park for a night and a long hike. 

Below is an artifact of the original park infrastructure. From the look of it, it's been boarded up for 10. I like looking at the old forgotten building.

After a normal hike in the woods along a river we get to investigate an old low head dam.

The stairs lead down to the shore through a hole in the rock.

It's hard to know if the hole is natural but the bridge is clearly man made as well as the stairs so at a minimum it was widened to make access easier.

I scramble out a few 100 yards to investigate the power of water and ice over the years. It's very cool.

It's like a beach yet it's a gigantic sandbar in the middle of the river. Indications show people use it as a beach and set up a day camp for sunning and swimming.

Old steel polished by time. How long would this take? 50 years?

A few 100 feet down river is a well pump. I tried to find an old farmhouse foundation but the terrain is so natural that I'm guessing it was a picnic area long ago. It has all the classic features.

Again, we have to move to the next park, BackBone State Park

 We hike up to the 'Back Bone' from the lake. The backbone is a long thin hill of limestone that looks a tiny bit like a spine but only a tiny bit. It's worth seeing and we need a hiking destination so we follow the river for miles, hike the backbone and return on the other side of the river.

 Approaching the Backbone and the trail get narrow and it's not a safe place for inquisitive puppies. Not wanting to miss anything we have little choice but to carry Scooby past the very narrow parts.
 It's hard to tell in the photo below but it's a 50+ foot drop on each side of the trail.

Following that hike we need to go to the other end of the park to go caving. Along the way we pass an old CCC camp and it's 'Cottage' complete with it's clinched nail shutters.

This little cave is actually a few 100 fee long. I have a headlamp and go to the very end in 10 minutes of stooped walking and scrambling. After I return a younger couple arrives and I lend them by light so they have go caving.

Mud or more like grease is encountered and Scooby is all to eager to walk in it leading to an unplanned bath but that's just more playtime for him.

At this point we had planned to go to Pike Peak State Park, and we do but it's covered in snow and the hiking is wet, cold, and dangerously steep. The snow in the campground is too deep to drive in so we head home a day early.