by Jim and Melanie
Our family gathered for a potluck dinner on Easter at a country church in Illinois. On Saturday, we drove down to the area from our home in Iowa. It took a little more than two hours. In the area is a state park called Argyle Lake. It had been many years since either of us visited the park. We decided to spend part of the nice day hiking. We chose a trailhead near the dam.
The 1700 acre park, with a 93 acre lake, was established in 1948 by the state of Illinois. The site was formerly known as Argyle Hollow. It served as a stage coach stop on the line between Galena and Beardstown, IL. The hollow was also home to many drift coal mines dug into the hillsides. The park today suffers from neglect by the state. Their lack of funds is obvious. The trails we hiked really needed attention. Tick spray with DEET was a necessary precaution, given the brush impeding on the trail.
One trail bordered the lake. We encountered this pair of Canada Geese sitting on a branch.
Shrubs and bushes were leafed out. Some of the tall trees were showing small leaves. Others just showed bulging buds but no leaves. Some wild flowers like violets and dandelions were blooming. Trillium about 8-10 inches tall were quite common.
There were also many patches of Mayapple (Podophyllum). They grow from a common root source and form large colonies. These photos show various stages of emergence. The left one is about 3 inches tall. The one on the right is about 12 inches.
We moved to a new location after our first hikes and sat on a bench to watch some guys fishing and a goose on the nest. It was in plain view and about 30 feet from the roadway. It will be a miracle if any of the eggs and hatchlings survive that location. The nest can be accessed easily by people, pets, raccoons, etc.
While we sat watching the goose and fishermen, we noticed a 2 foot long snake in the water. It disappeared too quickly for a photo. We also saw a 12 inch wide turtle on a log on the opposite side of the water inlet. When it submerged, we walked around the inlet and sat down to wait for it to surface again. It never did. But, there was this 3 inch wide turtle who didn’t seem to mind our being there.
The trails we hiked were poorly maintained and didn’t have a great view. But between some challenging footing and the beautiful weather, it was a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon.