Hiking at Palos Park Woods

Let’s go hiking at the Palos Park Woods, part of Chicago’s Cook County Forest Preserve System Zone 7.
Do you think a winter hike is boring? What can you possibly find in the middle of winter to hold your attention or to justify walking in 30 degree weather?
Why, let me show you!

Ooooh! No leaves on the trees but the stream is surely active and sounds wonderful. There’s nothing like loud babbling water to get your heart pumping and your senses excited!

This picture was taken on the trail next to Kean Ave. where an ephemeral pond was half frozen and in the process of defrosting. As you stand in this spot you can actually hear the ice crack. At first you might walk by and not know where that loud popping sound is coming from. Then you stop dead in your tracks and realize…that sound is the ice! The ice is speaking! I wish I had a recorder to document the sound so I can play it for you. It was not a constant tone, but a series of higher and lower pitched cracks and pops. The earth is not silent!

I love this squirrel eye view of the melting ice from behind the tree. Notice the tiny roots from that vine trying to reach the main tree. Nature is so cool.

As I walked ahead I heard one chickadee and saw many (6) white breasted nuthatches “beeping” constantly. Hopping down tree trunks as they notoriously do.

Then I spotted something really interesting….

This tree has several brown “icicles” hanging off of its bark. These formations could not be real icicles because the temperature was way too warm. no, these were I believe, sap icicles.

This same tree had mushrooms all over. Are these sap wounds? Here you can see one growing in between two mushrooms.

Here is another view of the bark. I bet my friend David Fischer from American Mushrooms would know exactly what kind this is!

This deep ravine held my interest for a long time. Notice the little bit of snow remaining after our warm weather. The snow side in constant shadow is on the south side and the sun is warming the north side of  the land.  You may not be able to tell but this was very deep.

On the next post we will see who hibernates in these woods during the wintertime!


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