Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hiking Iowa: Hitchcock Nature Center 2011 Revisit

Last Thursday I decide to try to start walking again.  My last hike, an ordeal up Topa Topa will be documented when I write about our Route 66 vacation.  This hike would be quite a bit shorter and easier:  A loop around Hitchcock Nature Center.

Hitchcock has changed since I last was there.  I've hiked there twice before (the last time in 2009) and visited it with the Wife during one of her school field trips.  Since then they have added more trails, updated their maps (the old one wasn't that accurate - this one is much better), and they have added "you are here" signs at all intersections.  This is a big improvement as the trails are many and they cross many times.  I got lost the first time.

There were two highlights of the hike for me this day.  The first was the monarch butterflies.  As I walked along the westridge trail (it runs along the west ridge naturally) dozens of monarchs flitted about.  it was pretty cool.  Monarchs are harder to take pictures of as they tend to close their wings when they are feeding and they are skittish.  They are also fast fliers.

The monarch butterflies were incredible.  There were dozens flitting about along the Westridge trail.
The second highlight was the view of the flood waters from the Missouri River.  The river has been flooding since June and, even though levels have come down, large swaths of farm land along the river are still under water.  I feel sorry for all those affected by the floods.

Panorama of the Missouri River flood water as seen from the
Westridge trail in Hitchcock Nature Reserve.
Water as far as the eye can see.
A sad little island formed as the water receded.
After taking in the sights of the flood I headed for the Badger Ridge trail. There I discovered a new trail, the Blazing Star trail.  I followed it as it looped down along the neighboring corn field and meadows before rejoining the Badger Ridge trail.

Along the Blazing Star trail.  A new trail along the meadow.
The trail starts at the notch on the left.
The Badger Ridge trail took me back to the nature center where I'd parked my car.  The hike did me good. I needed to get out in the fresh air again.  I think I've been holed up in the den drafting posts a little too long. I've lost my Camino tan.  My right leg did bother me in the car to and from Hitchcock but felt great on the trail.  I had a great time and I will probably do it again this week.

Pictures have been added to my 2008-2017 Hitchcock Nature Reserve Google Photos album.


Total Distance: 4.81 Miles (7.74 km)
Total Time: 2 hours 19 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 1,263 ft (384.96 m)
Total Elevation Down: 1,283 ft (391.06 m)

[Click on map for a larger version]

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