We had SUN today!! Not an overly flashy hike, but we had the warm sun all morning. We met in the Lodge's Lobby and drove to Utica and walked West on the towpath. When we arrived at Split Rock, we turned around and came back. About 5 miles walked today. 35 walkers and 2 dogs. Did I mention we had a full walk of warm sun???

I took this photo at my house earlier in the week, thought I would share it. Enjoy!!

I tried to get everyone to turn around for a photo. It is very hard to corral 35 anxious hikers. They just wanted to get out there and walk.

Met this group near the Black Ball Mine area. (Our Joe is in the orange hat reminiscing with them. When he was teaching Geology he would bring his class the Black Ball Mine Area) They were suiting up to go into the mine and check on the bats. 5 species of bats are known to use this mine site, one of which is the endangered Indiana bat. They will be monitoring them for the White-Nose Syndrome. Their numbers have been dropping over the past few years.

1/2 of the "Split" from Split Rock. Yes that is an old railroad tunnel through the limestone.

We're almost half way. I told everyone that had to touch Split Rock or it didn't count. Count for what??? I have no idea, but it sounded good.

Contemplating if they want to return the way they came, I guess.

Nice sunny warm day to be out hiking.

Looking back…

2.4 miles to get back to Utica. Time when fast today. These markers are all along the Canal going bothe ways.

We are on our way back. This is the bridge over the Pecumsaugan Creek that runs under the Canal.
Snake on the Tow path

Close up view of the same snake. Garter snake

The Illinois and Michigan Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. It ran 96 miles (154 km) from the Chicago River in Bridgeport, Chicago to the Illinois River at LaSallePeru. The canal crossed the Chicago Portage and helped establish Chicago as the transportation hub of the United States, before the railroad era. It was opened in 1848, its function was largely replaced by the wider and shorter Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1900 and it ceased transportation operations with the completion of the Illinois Waterway in 1933.

We saw these plasic sheets along the side of the towpath. They have numbers and letters on one end. Thought maybe it had something to do with adding gravel to the surface. Don't really know.

A few buds starting to come out. Spring is only a few days away. March 20th.

Not many wildflowers to be seen on this hike. Here is the start of some day lillies.

We were just about finished for the day! Notice how blue the sky was!!!

This piece of art (The Glassinator) sits in front of the Lodge. There was a mild breeze and all the parts were spinning.

I will leave you with this: Hiking is a bit like life – The journey only requires you to put one foot in front of the other….again and again and again. And if you allow yourself opportunity to be present throughout the entirety of the trek, you will witness beauty every step of the way, not just at the summit.