by Melanie and Jim
Last month we enjoyed a number of outings in our own backyard. On the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, we headed north a few miles to Palisades-Kepler State Park, on the Cedar River. It’s becoming a favorite retreat for us, both for its proximity and also the hiking. (You can find some photos from a hike last fall here.)
The trail system isn’t extensive. The main trail is out and back, following the tree-lined east bluff of the Cedar River. The fossil-embedded rocks tower over the hiker at some points. At others, the hiker ascends the bluff to walk along the upper surface. There are plenty of roots and rocks, ups and downs, and terrific scenery to keep things interesting.
It’s easy to get caught up in the bigger scale. But interesting things appear when you pay attention to the small, too. The grey limestone cliffs host plants growing in unexpected places. Ferns of all sizes, mosses, and wildflowers thrust from the stone. Columbines seemed to thrive on the rock face.
Jack-in-the-pulpits and shooting stars rose up, scattered throughout the park.
As we headed out, we saw this slope covered with wild geraniums.
We left the park and headed toward home. About halfway is the town of Solon. Lucky for us, the volunteer firefighters were holding their 51st annual breakfast to raise funds for the fire station. Abundant plates full of pancakes, eggs, and sausage or ham, as well as hot coffee, helped refill us after our hike. The breakfast was serendipity this year, as we hadn’t known it was being held that day. But it’s already on our calendar for next year!