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oldfatguy

OFG out Wandering About

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Spent 4-5 hours today exploring Wildcat Den State Park, just north of Muscatine, Iowa. For December 28th in Iowa, the weather was wonderful, lots of sunshine and temperatures around 40.

 

Started out at the upper area of the part and hiked toward the Devils Punchbowl.  The trail started off pretty easy and as you can see, the trees have dropped their leaves this time of the year.

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Here is the Devil's Punchbowl.  It is about 50 feet deep, 60 feet across and almost 200 feet long. 

 

The trail takes you to an overlook first, then a series of stairs lets you go down into the punchbowl. 

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This was an amazing place to explore.  Looking at the layers of sandstone from top to bottom was fascinating and then to think how much water for how many years has flowed down through here to form this area.  The bottom layer is shale that has a very high iron content, causing it to rust.

 

After spending some time here, I followed the trail downstream. 

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looks exactly like palisades kepler state park. have you ever been there ofg. its got some great trails along the cedar river. not to far from you. about 20 minuts southeast of cedar rapids. great looking hike. might have to hit that sometime. thanks for sharing.

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The little canyon (yes, there are canyons in Iowa) widens out a bit and you can really see the layer of shale.  The water in the stream has a very high iron content, as you can see by the rust on the bottom of the stream as it flows over some flat stones.

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This time of the year, you can find some very interesting things.  Here are two examples of nature's ability to recover.  The first is a tree that was broken off with the top part pointed downward. It just grew back.

 

I have no idea how the second tree grew into the "S" curve.

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I continued on the trail and found a set of steps.  Brought back memories of the last couple of hours of my Grand Canyon hike, but I had to venture upward.  This lead to a cutoff back to the parking lot.

 

After coming back down, I continued along the bottom of the bluff.  Some of the formations look like they have fallen down recently, until you notice the large tree growing out of it.

 

The last picture is of a small spring flowing out of the bottom of the wall, from the shale layer.  The water has filtered down through the sandstone, then hit the layer of shale and flows along this, picking up iron from it until it comes out at the bottom of the cliff. There was a steady flow of water from this spring.

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that broken tree is young but it does resemble the trees native americans bent to establish trail markers. there are examples all over iowa and the midwest of trees bent in the same way. i forget if they have a name. i have some pictures of them somewhere, ill try to find them.

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To the right of the trail is Pine Creek, which powered the mill downstream a little farther.  It has flowed here for a long time, eroding the cliffs.

 

The trail leads to "Devils Lane".

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Here is "Devil's Lane", a very interesting formation.  As you go up the lane, it branches off to the right.  I felt right at home in "Fat Man's Squeeze".  My shoulders were touching on each side as I stood there.

 

"Steamboat Rock" is just past "Devil's Lane".

I even ventured out onto a ledge!

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Here is Wildcat Den Cave.  You can climb all the way up into the cave and it does go back quite a ways.

 

Farther up the trail, I even found GREEN GRASS!!!  In December?  In Iowa??

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This loop is about 3 miles and I covered it in an hour and a half, but I spent quite a bit of time exploring and enjoying the area.

 

Time for lunch.

 

I built a small fire and broke out the hot dogs.

 

After lunch, I enjoyed a cigar, then cleaned up my dining room before leaving.  I am a firm believer in leaving a place in better condition that when I arrived.

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After lunch, I went down to the Pine Creek Mill at the far end of the park. This mill was built in the 1800's and was originally powered by Pine Creek.  The mill has been restored, but was closed for the winter.  The water coming over the dam made a very interesting sound.  There was the normal sound of the falling water, but it would also resonate in cycles, producing a deep, almost rumbling sound. This would fade in and out.

 

There were two millstones that were used at one time sitting outside.  It was interesting to see these.  I will have to come back sometime when the mill is open.

 

There is a steel bridge below the dam that at one time carried a huge amount of local traffic, most of it less than 4 horsepower.  I found the geocache located on the right side of the bridge.

 

Throughout this hike, I collected the information to log another Earthcache.  That is one of the reasons I enjoy geocaching - it gives me the chance to learn about different areas and to do it first hand - by being in the environment, being part of it.

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that broken tree is young but it does resemble the trees native americans bent to establish trail markers. there are examples all over iowa and the midwest of trees bent in the same way. i forget if they have a name. i have some pictures of them somewhere, ill try to find them.

That could be, Razor. Thanks. Looking closely at the broken tree, it looks like it has been growing back for at least 4-5 years.  Things like that would make excellent markers in the woods, as they would blend in and be part of the background unless you knew what you were looking for and how to interpret the signpost.

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you would love indian bluffs ofg. we will have to hit it sometime this spring.

Sounds like a great place to hit, Razor.  I have been to Palisades Kepler but would love to spend more time there.  It is about 20 minutes from where I work.  I might be off to Bixby State Preserve (A little north of Backbone) tomorrow or Friday.

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That could be, Razor. Thanks. Looking closely at the broken tree, it looks like it has been growing back for at least 4-5 years.  Things like that would make excellent markers in the woods, as they would blend in and be part of the background unless you knew what you were looking for and how to interpret the signpost.

thats why i said it looked to new. most the real ones are old, as much as 200+ years. ive sean one that was about 5 foot diameter and about 12-15 feet around. there are a couple  at indian creek nature center.

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On December 29, 2011, I made a trip out to Bixby State Preserve with Stacey, a geocaching pal, to find an Earthcache (Algific Talus Slope - GC33NQH).  We made our way to the parking area, as the road into the preserve was closed for the winter.  We walked in about 3/4 of a mile. 

 

Along the way, we passed a wash that fed into stream.  This looked like a set of stairs going up the hillside.

 

At the end of the road, we crossed a small stream that offered a beautiful view.

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