Project Leader: Tim Carroll Project Dates: 02/08/2011 - 05/15/2011 Phone: 208-608-6318 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our final week of work here on the Shawnee National Forest started off a bit wet. Relentless rain for several days straight gave us a chance to spend some time working on final reporting and summarizing our work over the past 12 weeks. We jumped at the opportunity to check out more of the local sights in Southern Illinois. We visited the Superman Museum in Metropolis, IL. It's home to the worlds largest Superman Statue and he stands guard over the county courthouse.
We visited Fort Massac State Park, a site on the Ohio river controlled by the French, British, and Americans throughout it's history. It was cool to climb up to the top of the fort and look out over the Ohio just as the soldiers did hundreds of years ago.
We were able to dodge rain drops for the last couple days of the week and made it out to Horse Creek and Ripple Hollow. The trails were completely saturated in the low areas but held up to the rain surprisingly well on higher ground. It was hard to believe that our last survey of the season was over.
We said our goodbye's to our Forest Service Friends on Friday. There was a very productive meeting between all the folks we had worked with on the Shawnee National Forest over the past 8 weeks and feedback was given and recieved by all. After a lunchbreak and some final goodbyes we headed for Missouri and the Ozark Trail Association's Mega Volunteer Event.
We reunited with the Missouri TrACS crew and had a great weekend hanging out together, sharing stories, building some trail, and having a good time. Over 200 volunteers show up for this event and the level of coordination and organization was impressive. Every volunteer had a team assignment with a specific project to work on. It made for a great day and we got tons of work done.
A cookout and bonfire followed, and the sounds of the bluegrass band playing made the day just about perfect.
It's been an amazing season and it's hard to believe that it's already over. Nobody likes goodbye's and we all made sure to say "see you later" as folks went home one by one. As they say, the end of one journey is the start of another, and the next one has already begun.
It feels like the season is beginning to wind down here in Southern Illinois. We made our final trip to the Hidden Springs Ranger District this week. After some slight campground issues on Monday morning, we finally settled on a spot at the Garden of The Gods.
A truly magnificent place, the Garden of The Gods has campsites situated along the tops of the Cliffs. We had great views out from the back of the campsite and a front row seat for some of the wild thunderstorms that ripped through the Midwest this week.
We saw lots of cool stuff this week. On Tuesday we stumbled across a grave site for an old homestead now crumbling and hidden from decades of forest overgrowth. The wildlife was abundant yet again, and each week it seems like more and more creatures make their presence felt in these lush forests. Stopped for ice cream after work at Harrison’s Country Market, a local gem, where folks are always stopping in to see what mom’s cookin‘ for dinner.
Tuesday night brought strong thunderstorms, and I mean strong! We beat the rain, lightning, and high winds by sitting in the truck, playing cards and watching the satellite images of the storm roll over us. We all fell asleep in the truck briefly and returned to our tents when the storm subsided later that night.
On Wednesday we started the day with a trip to the old Iron Furnace close by. Built in the mid 1800’s it produced high quality iron and required a 40 man team working 2 shifts to keep it in full blast.
After that we visited Thacker Hollow. It’s simply amazing to me that this place is not more popular. It was some of the most beautiful hiking on this forest so far. The rivers and streams were overflowing from the night before and we strolled past gorgeous cliffs and waterfalls coming from every direction. The sun would peak out every once in a while and give you that “storybook” forest look with rays of light coming down through the trees. Amazing!
Thursday morning we decided to hit some of the last hotspots on the Hidden Springs District that we hadn’t seen yet. We started with a hike of the Rim Rock Trail and met an SCA alum at the trailhead. Scott, who had worked at Glacier National Park years ago, was just as surprised to see us as we were to see him. It was a great conversation and we soon made our way down to the Pounds Escarpment at Rim Rock. The area has a network of trails that wind through the rocks and along the cliffs. Not a good place for you if you’re claustrophobic.
Next it was on to Burden Falls, where the spring rains really bring out the best in this waterfall. We hopped around on rocks, checking out the falls, and doing a little bouldering and scrambling with too many good rocks to pass up.
Our final stop for the day was at Bell Smith Springs. There is a natural arch there standing over 30 feet high and more than 120 feet long. Amazingly, there is even a waterfall that falls right behind it. A spectacular sight.
It’s been a great week and it’s hard to believe that there’s only 1 hitch left. We’ll be at Kinkaid Lake next week to finish up the season and visit the last corner of the Shawnee National Forest.
Work completed this hitch:
Trail 150 - 2.84 miles
Memorial Trail #160 - 0.85 miles
Snow Cone Trail #146 - 3.27 miles
Thacker Ridge Trail #180 - 2.12 miles
Trail #180c - 0.65 miles
Total Trail Surveyed This Hitch - 9.73 miles
Originally from Minnesota, I began my work for the SCA in 2007 as a member of the Pacific Crest Trail Crew in California. It was on the PCT that I got my first taste of trail maintenance and conservation and I loved it from the start. Since then I've worked in a variety of places doing conservation work. A backcountry ranger internship in Kentucky and trail crews in Virginia, Lake Tahoe, and New Mexico. I graduated with a degree in Envrionmental Geology and a Music minor from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. In 2010 I traveled west again to do a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. After 5 months of hiking I had successfully walked from Mexico to Canada. My travels continue to this day and I'm very excited to work for the Trail Assesment Program in Illinois and see what the lower midwest has to offer.
Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, my interest in conservation work was first sparked in my parents taking my siblings and me to the many national parks across the country from the Smokey Mountains to Zion National Park. This later led my attending Northern Michigan University on the shores of Lake Superior, in which I recently graduated from with a BS in Environmental Conservation and minors in Outdoor Recreation and Native American Studies. In an effort to gain hands on experience in conservation I have interned with the Michigan Nature Conservancy and last summer worked as a biologic science aid for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In my search for winter field employment upon graduation from Northern, I came across SCA’s many year round internship opportunities, which has led to my current trail corps member position servicing the Shawnee National Forest of Southern IL. This summer I plan to pick up work again with the Nature Conservancy in Brunswick Maine as a Stewardship Field Assistant.
What a great Idea. The Shawnee National Forest TrACS crew is happy to make our first entry for the Unofficial SCA Corps Food Blog Competition.
BBQ chicken Pizza. With a spectacular crust infused with garlic and basil this pizza pie is held together with pure love and lots of BBQ sauce. Red onions mixed with chicken and a healthy dose of mozzarella cheese make this the best pizza we've had all week. Yummy.
P.S. When does the official SCA Cookbook come out?
The 2 TRACS teams here in Missouri have split. One crew heads east, over the Mississippi and one crew stays in Missouri. Myself, Mike and Rebecca have traveled to the Shawnee National Forest to roam the trails of Southern Illinois.
We arrived on Monday the 7th of March to a warm welcome from the people at the Forest Service Offices in Murphysboro and Jonesboro Illinois. The trails on the Shawnee National Forest so far have been very scenic and at this time of year, with no leaves on the trees, you can see much more of the landscape. The sandstone and limestone cliffs seem to pop up out of nowhere and the streams and springs are bubbling with life these days. Spring is just around the corner and the water can't flow unless there is rain. Mike, Rebecca and I have finished surveys on 7 trails so far this week and battled some interesting weather in the process. A steady dose of "spittin" rain, as Mike would say, has kept us on our toes thus far.
Southern Illinois is completely different from the rest of the state and is almost its own little region in itself. It used to be nicknamed Egypt during the 1800's, and includes places like the Lake of Egypt and Cairo. We’ve seen multiple wine vineyards dotted across the rural parts of the region and Rebecca has been educating us on the peach trees we’ve been seeing in some of the orchards nearby.
If you’re ever in Alto Pass Illinois, stop by the Root Beer Saloon. The owners make Root Beer Floats and home cooked food, sell antiques and have taxidermy everywhere. There are shelves full of spices and herbal remedies and they sell custom, handmade guitars made from wood that they harvest themselves from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Amazing folks and worth stopping by if you can somehow figure out their real store hours.
This hitch we've seen a wide variety of places on the Mississippi bluffs ranger district. We've completed surveys at Pomona Natural Bridge, the Lincoln/Douglas debate memorial site, White Pine Trail, Oakwood Bottoms, Inspiration Point, Little Grand Canyon, and the Shoreline Trail at Kinkaid Lake.
The snake migration is starting here soon and we hope to catch a glimpse of some slithery friends, from a distance of course. We got some great sunshine today and soon the hills and valleys will be alive with all kinds of excitement. We can’t wait to see what else this place has in store for us. Until the next update, enjoy the photos.
When you think of Southern Illinois, commonly referred to as "Little Egypt", try not to think about the rest of the state. The region is culturally and ecologically unique. Surrounded on its eastern, southern and western borders by the Wabash, Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, The Shawnee National Forest is subject to the convergence of multiple climate zones. With 7 wilderness areas, beautiful streams, sandstone cliffs, and abundant wildlife, the Shawnee offers a little bit of everything for the outdoor enthusiast. Plant life is diverse to say the least and over 500 wildlife species call the region home. Snake Migrations routinely close roads for months at a time and on spring days, humans flock to the cliffs, trails, and lakes for their own adventures.
The Shawnee National Forest was established in the early 1930's and originally was 2 national forests including the Illini NF. Reforestation efforts began soon after in an attempt to repair the damage done from the timber boom and poor farming practices. Over the past 80 years the region has rebounded. The hills are once again covered with forest, the streams run clear, and the wildlife has returned. For More information about the Shawnee National Forest visit, www.fs.fed.us and search Shawnee National Forest.
As we completed work on the 12 mile Council Bluff Lake trail today, we had a little time left before heading home. Nobody was up for a swim in the lake so we decided to head back anyways and work on some post reporting. What a fun trail for us to start out with. Very relaxed grades that follow the contours of the hills no more that 100 yards from the lake at any point. Despite a few days of frigid rain, the lake trail was a great time and looks to be an exciting place to be during mid summer when the campgrounds and boat launches are full.
Last weekend there was a rally car racing event here in Potosi, the town of many tire shops, and we couldn't resist. Some cars were really nice and all tricked out, while others seemed to be in a different class. Like the 1980's volvo that went whipping around the track along with the 2011 Subaru's and Ford's. Definately a fun event.
Should be heading to Bell Mountain Wilderness the rest of the week and then the 2 TRACS crews will be splitting up and going different directions next week. to be continued...
Wow what an eventful and action packed couple weeks it's been so far. The western corps programs for this spring gathered in Tucson, AZ last week for several days of training. With cold mornings and hot afternoons, the group of over 30 members filled their brains with information about the upcoming season. Wilderness first aid and Leave No Trace training took place along with some of the most beautiful power point presentations ever assembled. The TRACS crews headed to the midwest included Mike Robinson, Rebecca Gray, Daniel Riser-Espinoza, and Nettina Conkey. All of them showed great enthusiasm throughout the week and were itching to go by the time training was over. Over the course of the week we saw Javalina's, skunks, spiders, and all of the amazing plants that the desert has to offer. It's a dry heat up at the Triangle Y Youth Camp, where the training was held, and I found myself with a "racoon eyes" tan line from my sunglasses.
We left from Tucson on the 14th and all made it safely to Rolla, Missouri that night. Ron Hassel, SCA Director of Trail Corps, met us there to join our Forest Service introduction/orientation.
Our job these next 12 weeks is to make "TRACS" on the Mark Twain National Forest. Trail Assesments and Conditions Surveys to be more precise. We'll be walking the trails using GPS devices, tape measures, and distance wheels to assess the condition of the trails. Our reports will include trail features and problem areas, as well as recommendations for improvements like new signs, drainage structures, hazard tree removals, and tread improvements. The crew has done well in getting up to speed on the paperwork and codes required to do these types of surveys and our first taste of a few trails this week has increased everyone's excitement level.
We traveled over to Potosi, Missouri on the 18th of Feb. and checked in with the Forest Service district office there. We'll be spending our next couple weeks in Potosi doing surveys on the Council Bluff Lake trail and the Bell Mountain Wilderness.
Potosi is a nice, small town and the roads around this area will make you feel like you're riding a roller coaster. The countryside is beautiful with rolling hills, hardwood forests, springs, caves and floatable rivers. It should be great to see the spring bloom around here. I feel a dogwood summer coming on already.
Our crew volunteered at a Grace Fellowship church in Rolla last week. We helped bag up food items for a food shelf that they have there. It was a good time and seemed to go by really quickly with everyone who was there chatting and working hard. Some of the members have also attended a volunteer trail maintenance day with the Ozark Trail Association on the 19th. They worked in the rain most of the day and were rewarded with a cookout after work for all the volunteers.
We'll check back in when we've finished our next project on the Council Bluff Lake trail.
I have recently graduated in December 2010 from Georgia Tech with a BS in Biology. I also studied Spanish and Business at Georgia Tech. In the fall, I hope to pursue a masters degree in the environemntal field.
While at Georgia Tech, I became involved in rowing and running, and completed my first half marathon in the fall! I also tried to take advantage of Georgia's fantastic climate and great trails and state parks whenever possible by hiking and backpacking with friends. My first experience with the SCA was in the summer of 2008 while working as an invasive plants intern at Prince William Forest Park.
|The Shawnee National Forest|
|Map of Shawnee National Forest|
|Project Leader Bio - Tim Carroll, 26|
|Member Bio - Michael Y. Robinson|
|Member Bio - Rebecca Gray|
|A joining of the TrACS, ILMO 4/25 - 4/30|
|If The Thunder Don't Get You Then The Lightning Will. 4/18 - 4/22|
|The Wheel Is Turning And You Can't Slow Down 4/4 - 4/13|
|Lusk Creek Wilderness, Bay Creek Wilderness, Jackson Falls. 3/21 - 3/29|
|Unofficial SCA Corps Food Blog Competition|
|East of the Mississippi 3/7 - 3/15|
|Not lost, Misplaced. Video|
|Potosi, a little slice of Missouri heaven.|
|Corps member training and an intro to the Mark Twain National Forest|