Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve - 4.15.12 - Post 1

A second new place for me this year was Fullersburg Forest Preserve in Oak Brook, Illinois.  It's part of the DuPage County forest system, and I have to say, most of the DuPage parks I've been to have been pretty nice.

I actually came out here with a few other people and we walked, what came down to, the short loop together.  And I got another reminder why I really, really need to stop thinking I can sign up for community events like hikes and think I can shoot while I'm there.  Most people just don't want to stand around and wait for that butterfly to land for fifteen minutes.  And they don't understand why I'm willing to lay down on the gravel path to get 'eye-level' with a beetle.  So when they left I ended up, sort of on accident, doing the big loop.  Or, one of several possible big loops, anyway.

One of the great things about this place is the Visitor's Center.  While the grounds are open, it's staffed by a docent.  Next to the docent's desk is a big magnetic board with fabulous, labeled pictures of all the flora and fauna *currently* being seen, so you know what to keep an eye out for.  Even better, when you're done you can go back and put a name to what you saw.  I need to go back out on a better day (it was pretty gray and windy when I went) to look for some of the more exotic birds like killdeer and teals that they said were currently hanging out.  (I really need to find out how a little bird like that got the name 'killdeer'.  Because I promise you, it never killed a deer in it's evolutionary life. :)

One of the other cool things they have in there is a mostly-complete skeleton of a wooly mammoth.  It was apparently found in the forest preserve.  There's signage (look behind the ribs) that explains that a.) the head was always missing.  When they found the rest of her, the head was gone.  It could have been carried off by a predator, the skull could have been washed down the river, etc.. and b.) that they know it's 'her' by her hips and that she had had calves and c.) there's some debate over whether or not she was killed by people or died more naturally.  There's a big chunk of the femur missing.  Was it pried out by people?  Gnawed on by another animal?  Anyway, it's worth looking at if you stop by the visitor's center.

So, as soon as you enter the forest preserve, you're greeted with signs that a large bridge is out.  They aren't kidding.  And yet, while I was there, I saw a rather elderly jogger climb over the big barricade at the end of the bridge and walk across it.

Now, obviously this happened quite a while ago.   There are a ton of really well-done metal signs all over the place about it. 
 Even the trail signs have been redone to show that the bridge is out.

Which leads me to wonder... wouldn't it just be cheaper and faster to replace the bridge?  It's a wooden bridge across a slow moving stream that's maybe 50 feet across.

Not to mention that it is a fairly huge inconvenience to not have that bridge.  It's the only one in the center of the park.  There's one at the extreme north and extreme south ends, but once you're over one of those, the only way back to the other side is to get to other one. So if you walk from that big black spot in the middle of the map, and go west and then north and around to the eastern leg of the trail, you now *have* to do that whole southern/southeastern trail.  And by whole I mean clear down the the other big black spot in the bottom right hand corner and then back around to the middle which is where your car is parked.  It basically forces you to double your hike, unless you go part way and then turn around.  There is no other bridge over the entire length of the river.  Now, I didn't hate it entirely because some of my best shots came from the area when you're heading northwest from that bottom corner and you get to that spot where the gray trail meets that dark black trail.  But it's kind of a lousy layout if you have someone who does *not* want to walk the entire perimeter of the preserve.

The other annoying thing about these maps is that the trails branch off of each other all over the place.  There are a fairly good number of trail marker arrows (red arrows for the red path, green for the green path, blue for the blue path, etc...), but they don't do a great job of telling you which of the two paths that branch off to the right is blue and which is red.  And not one of those maps has a 'you are here' anywhere on it.  And with that bridge out, you can end up walking for quite a long while before getting back to where you started.

For some reason, this sign - mostly the white one on the bottom - amused me.  I should have gotten a landscape shot of where this thing is. (Next trip)  But it's near the bridge that's out, right next to where the trail goes along the bank of the river.  But at normal times, the river is about four feet down a very steep hill/bank.  So in order for the trail to actually flood, the river would have to rise about four feet.  Now apparently this *can* happen.  If you look at the signs about the bridge, it was a 'raging river' that took it out.  So one would assume that if the rains and weather have brought the river up *four feet*, that, yeah, the trail should probably be closed for a while.  Illinois is having a MONSOON!

But like I said, taking the long way around wasn't the worst thing ever for me.  When you get to the south end there's Graue Mill.  It's a huge, old, flour mill powered by a waterwheel on the river.

I would have gone in to take pictures, but I'm watching my nickles and dimes right now.  Too bad, since I love old historical 'stuff' like this.

Speaking of signs that amused me...

If you can't read it at the size I have it at, it says "Please keep off the mill wheel", of course, you could always click on it to make it bigger.  Really?  I mean, this thing is at least 18 feet in diameter and moving fairly quickly.  Are there enough people out there trying to prove that Darwin had a point, that they actually need a *sign* for that?

So... that's the background of the place.  I give it a pretty solid A-.  Maybe it'll go to a solid A once they actually get that bridge replaced.  Next few posts... the actual sightings I had while I was there.

No comments:

Post a Comment