The Nature Institute, part 2

As I said at the end of my last blog post…I didn’t think anything else we’d encounter would top Hop Hollow. Wrong! We knew there was a place called Beaver Falls somewhere within the institute’s boundaries. We ran into a family looking for Beaver Falls and we could hear running water so we followed the sound. Never did see the family again. Guess they didn’t find the waterfall. We did! ūüėĄ like I said before, I didn’t check out the Nature Institute’s website before we started and we didn’t have a map. There was a map posted at the trailhead with points of interest but no information about them. We were expecting a little waterfall like the ones we’ve seen on other trails that were said to have waterfalls…pretty, but they’d barely get my knees wet. So Russ and I are following the sound of running water and come to a pretty little stream. We’d had heavy rain that week and could see how far the stream had been out of its banks. It must have been crazy high and fast!

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After a little bit we saw The Waterfall up the stream a way!! Woo-hoo! I wanted to get a picture of it straight on, so I proceed to rock hop out to the middle of the stream. I don’t make it but a couple rocks and I find the ejector rock! Waterproof boots don’t mean a thing when the water is deeper than your boots are tall! Luckily I didn’t drop my phone or land on my butt! Kinda pulled a groin muscle and smashed my left toes into the end of my boot but it was well worth it…the best had yet to come.

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Ejector Rock
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Standing on Ejector Rock, after I moved it around to stabilize it. The water wasn’t deep, just over my boots in the spot I went in!

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It turns out, there was a succession of waterfalls as we followed this stream up. None of them were very high but the sound…wow! They sounded huge! I want that sound right outside my bedroom window. On 3 different trips to Colorado, I stayed in cabins with a rushing stream right outside the cabin…amazing! It doesn’t get any better than that…well, yes it would if I lived in one of the cabins!

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There is a Wilson soccer ball floating in the pool at the bottom of this fall.

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At the last and biggest fall, so far, there was a Wilson soccer ball floating in the pool below the falls. Of course, I think of the movie Cast Away, when Tom Hanks’ friend Wilson was floating away in the ocean and he’s standing there on the raft yelling “Wilson!!” Yep, I made my own mini movie remake of that scene! Unfortunately or fortunately more than likely, I can’t post it here! Russ thinks I’m crazy when I do that, but I have fun and if you can’t laugh at yourself, what’s the point of having fun?!

At this point the terrain was getting pretty steep. It was pretty hot that day and we were getting a good workout. ¬†We were both using our new hydration backpacks, something I had balked at because I like to use my waste pack to carry my must-haves…my phone (the size of a barge), chapstick, tissues, zip lock bags, small first aid kit, my pain meds, car key, cliff bars. But it only holds 2 water bottles. I found the hydration packs on sale at Aldis, of all places, for $14.99 & thought what the heck. My daughter uses one. She puts a frozen icepack ¬†between the water bladder (she keeps that in the fridge until she’s ready to go) ¬†and the back of the pack so her back feels the cold too. It worked great! ¬†Russ and I were thrilled with our choice of hiking destination, with the packs and still 100% happy with the mosquito and tick spray we had been using…Repel Tick Defense. This place was thick with mosquitoes! We haven’t had a bite or seen a tick since we started using it! We still didn’t think our hike could get any better…it did! After I bid Wilson goodbye we continued to follow the stream. Then we heard a distant roar. The trail had been gradually getting higher than the stream. Then, there it was…THE WATERFALL! The biggest waterfall we’d seen while hiking yet! Way down below us! I’m going down there, Russ thinks I’m crazy and I’ll probaby break something! It was a bit treacherous getting down to the bottom. A fall would have been really bad. Going back up was just as hard, but omg it was so worth it! My pictures don’t do it justice. The sun and the water dripping from the over hanging rock and vegetation and the spray from the falls made getting pictures difficult. Russ didn’t want to get wet and I didn’t want to get my phone wet. I was soaking wet by the time I climbed back up! I think that was the first time I’ve ever played in a waterfall! By the way, Russ sucks at taking pictures! He took several of me but they got deleted! It was absolutely gorgeous down there! And LOUD! We had to yell to hear each other.

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I had a blast! I was a little worried about hiking the rest of the day in wet clothes and boots but it was hot out…being wet felt great and I dried off pretty quickly. There was another waterfall above the big one that was pretty far off the trail and down a really steep hill, plus it wasn’t very big…you’ve seen 5 or 6 small waterfalls in 1 day, you’ve seen them all!

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Russ is heading to the last waterfall
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The last small waterfall in the background

Well, that was it for waterfalls! We hiked up out of the valley onto a very flat trail and preceeded to get completely turned around and ended up in a farm field! Good grief, sometimes we absolutely suck at following signs! Thank goodness for the GPS map in the alltrails app! At one point we were going through an old growth forest. Massive trees everywhere! Again pictures just didn’t capture how spectacular, how beautiful it really was. I gave up trying after a couple shots. Then the terrain and vegetation changed again. It was so green and damp. Ferns everywhere. It was like a rain forest.

IMG_20170618_143907643According to The Nature Institute’s website, we missed several points of interest. Bald Eagle nests…gotta go back in the winter to see them! One thing we happily missed…Eastern Timber Rattlesnakes…Oh My!

The Nature Institute is quite the little gem. I can’t wait to go back and see what we missed, sans snakes of course! I can only imagine how beautiful it is in the winter.

Oh, we followed deer tracks on one trail for a long time, adult and tiny ones. Russ caught a glimpse of a deer bounding away into the thick trees.

Here’s the link to the website. ¬†Check it out. Plan a trip. I know you won’t be disappointed!

http://www.thenatureinstitute.org

My Partner in Adventure…Russ

If you’ve read my Raisin’ Cane page, then you know I was introduced to Russ by my BFF Crystal. I belonged to a dating website (that could be a hilarious blog all by itself!!) and they were having a mixer night at a local bar. Not wanting to go by myself, I asked Crystal to go with me. She had my back, no matter what, so off we went, with an “Oh, by the way I invited my single friend Russ too. I hope that’s OK?” Poor guy, we hardly talked to him all night. Crystal and I had a blast and didn’t meet a single…single guy! But Russ did ask Crystal for my phone number. We talked on the phone several times and ended up going out a couple of weeks later and well, that was 8 years ago and we’re like an old married couple now! We have nothing in common! We don’t like the same music. We don’t like the same foods. We don’t like the same types of movies or books. We don’t even like the same type of animals! We don’t like the same sports although I did manage to turn him into a Blues Hockey fan!! Opposites attract! The one thing we both love is the mountains and Colorado. And going through caves and antique stores. I guess that’s more than one! And we discovered we both love hiking. Russ had back surgery a little over a year ago and he has a lot of numbness in his right thigh still and has a bad right hip, the result of a horrible auto accident many years ago. So he also has some difficulty and is a little slow hiking…we make a great pair!

And just this past Friday, after a trip to urgent care to see what the pain and swelling in his hand were all about, Russ found out he has a Ganglion Cyst in his palm going into to his middle finger. Now he has to find a hand specialist to see where he goes from here. Our last hike he had a hard time using the trekking pole with his left hand. He just started using trekking poles recently and decided they’re pretty handy things to have when the terrain is steep or rough, even if your hand is hurting.

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Our first hike…Russ at Powder Valley
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Kim and Russ at Powder Valley
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Kim and Russ at Nature Institute in Godfrey IL
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Russ at Beaver Falls, Nature Institute