Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lock 17 Trip

A couple of days ago, I got to take a day hike over by Wyanet at Lock 17.  I've only been here a couple of times, so it's nice to get somewhere I'm not totally familiar with.

Lock 17 is the last of the locks on the Hennepin that allow the climb up the river valley from the Illinois River.  I would love to see this system working again.  It looks like there is some talk of making certain locks active again for tourism.

Bridge No. 9 is right above this lock and while I was looking around, I notice a date stamped on the concrete footing of the bridge.  That's an old bridge!

Well, lets get to the wildlife viewed on this trip.  About 100 yards up from bridge 9, I could see something in the ice, and I knew what it was even before I could see the detail of it.

This poor doe had come down the hillside and fallen into the ice.  The scars of old broken ice showed the poor deer's struggle, and obviously did not make it.  This really wasn't how I wanted this hike to start out:(

Not long after that, my spirits were lifted!  I saw what I thought was a gull flying erratically down the path, and I started taking some pictures.  As it got closer, I realized that it wasn't a gull at all, but a Northern Harrier Hawk!  Harrier hawks are endangered in Illinois, so this was a special moment for me.

Along the way, I noticed several den openings in the hill on the other side.  On this day, I could only imagine what might live in them.  Perhaps mink, muskrats, bank beavers?  Who knows.  Maybe next time I'll get to find out.

I reached lock 18, which was a bit farther than I had anticipated.  Here, the broken ice made some interesting patterns for photographs.  Very geometric!

At the end of the lock, where the ice hadn't broken up yet, I noticed several dead shiners in the ice.

Above the lock, animal tracks appeared.  At first I thought the bird tracks were turkey, but that doesn't seem right.  I think they are actually heron tracks.  They could also belong to lesser yellow legs, but I couldn't get close enough to really be sure.  You can also see some raccoon tracks along the edges.

On the way back, I spotted another great raptor, the Bald Eagle.  I always have to smile when I see an eagle, especially when I see them on the Hennepin Canal.  The fact that this great raptor has rebounded so well in our area is reason to smile....big!

Another great hike.  The more I hike other portions of the canal, the more interested I become with its history.  Every area I visit has something structurally different to offer.  There's plenty out there written about the canal, but I find it much more fun to find things and then research them.

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