As the son of an ornithologist (like @limako), I know a mist net when I see one.
Drinking Half Acre Bodem with @jackieLbrewer while we wait for lunch after a nice little hike at Allerton Park. (Google keyboard wanted to turn Bodem to Biden.)
Had a great time at WorldCon, but it’s good to be home.
A very nice run yesterday along the bank of the Sangamon. 🏃🏻♂️
Seen on a run: Blue-eyed mary, trillium, blue flox. 🏃
All the cutleaf coneflower you want.
After walking at Allerton, we’ve stopped for lunch at @monarchbrewinco. I’m drinking their Wicked Pissah NE IPA and @jackieLbrewer has picked a selection from a brewery 50 miles south, the Effing Brew Tyrant’s Blood red rye IPA.
Observed on the drive to Allerton yesterday: Flooded fields with 4-inch high corn plants look like a lot like rice paddies.
Jackie and I attended a tree identification workshop at Allerton Park yesterday.
Both my parents are naturalists, and my brother took some botany classes as part getting his PhD in science education, so they all know all the trees we’re likely to see in any of the places where we’ve ever lived. They routinely identify the trees for me when we’re walking. If I’d had any sense, I’d have learned all that stuff myself long ago.
Sadly, I have a lazy brain—the sort that figures that if other people will identify the trees for me, there’s no need for me to learn how to do it myself. So, I had to subject myself to this workshop to try and catch up.
It was a very well done workshop. We spent about half an hour going over basic terminology of tree characteristics—alternate versus opposite, simple versus compound, pinnate versus palmate, petioles versus petiolules—then we spent about three hours hiking through Allerton Park on the south side of the Sangamon River, before breaking for lunch. After lunch we spent another three hours hiking on the north side of the river, looking at the trees found over there.
We learned to identify maybe 30 species, with enough repetition of the more common species that we might actually be able to remember them.
It was good.
With all the time and effort I’ve been putting into fitness of late, I’ve been feeling just a little smug—I’m in so much better shape than I was nine or ten years ago. But this outing showed me that any such smugness is unjustified—everybody in our group of 20 or so, including some people older than Jackie and me, held up just fine to the rigors of five or six hours on our feet in the woods, some of it hiking off-trail. Jackie and I held up just fine too, but I was pretty tired at the end. (And managed to jam my ankle at some point, which wasn’t a problem during the event, but got sore in the night.)
It was a good reminder that endurance is a very complicated thing. Being in shape to walk briskly for 10 or 15 miles is not the same as being in shape to alternate walking and standing for the same number of hours. Adding effort in a mental dimension—trying to learn the trees, keeping an eye out for things like poison ivy, nettle, and tripping hazards—also makes things more taxing, something that’s easy to forget.
Now we need to get back to Allerton reasonably soon—before we forget everything—and see how many of those trees we can still identify.
We’ve decided not to do another even longer walk before we do the big hike of the Kal-Haven trail. (Coming up later this month!)
I’d had it in my head that we’d do a 30-mile walk, but the more I thought about it, the less it appealed. Mainly, it seemed like it would make the main event less special. (“Oh. We walked 3.5 miles longer than our longest training walk. Big deal.”)
We will do one more walk of close to marathon distance, somewhere in the 20–25 mile range, but besides that, we’ve been doing some shorter walks of a more rugged nature, hoping to address some deficiencies that cropped up on the marathon-length walk.
In particular, I noticed that toward the end of really long walks, my hips get tired and seem kind of wobbly when I walk over uneven ground. I thought one way to address that, besides doing more longer walks, would be to find some especially uneven ground to hike on. That’s why we went to Fox Ridge and later to Forest Glen—the trails would let us get in some longish walks with some slightly different sources of stress than just more longer.
Today we hiked at Allerton Park, doing a bit over 6 miles of some not-too-rugged trails. We’d had it in our heads to do 6 more miles on the other side of the Sangamon River, but decided to skip it due to schedule constraints—we would have had to rush to get home in time to got to my Esperanto meeting and the farmers market this evening.
Besides the hike, we also took half an hour or so to do some taiji in the Fu Dog garden. That was very nice.
Once again, I got to put my parkour practice to use.
There’s a path that leads—used to lead—to the back of the mansion, and there used to be an iron spiral staircase that got you up to the top of a retaining wall the separates the grounds (at one level) from the steep slope down into the forest and the Sangamon.
We hiked up that trail—what’s left of it—only to find that the iron staircase has been removed.
The wall there would be beyond our capability to climb, but just around the corner (separating the mansion grounds from the pond), the wall is shorter—about chest high.
It’s been a long time, but I just did what I would have done as a boy facing a wall of that height—I put my palms on it, then jumped up high enough that I had enough leverage to go ahead and push myself up onto the wall.
Jackie found that she couldn’t jump high enough to get to where she could push herself on up, so she reached over the top of the wall to where she could hook her fingers over the far side. Then she just scrabbled up as best she could, her boots sliding on the bricks, but catching enough that she managed to get herself up onto the wall.
We were both pretty pleased with ourselves. I doubt if we could have climbed that wall five years ago.
I neglected to get a picture of the wall from today, but here’s a picture from a few years ago, looking across from the far side of the pond (click to embiggen):
We were way over on the right, and our climb was from just above the pond. (There are two walls there. We just climbed the lower wall. There’s a path at that level, and then a second retaining wall up to the level of the mansion grounds proper.)
On an unrelated note, today seemed to be Path Crossing Day for the snails. I scarcely took a step down the path without seeing a snail.
Here’s the first snail I spotted:
Jackie and I hiked at Allerton Park last Saturday. We walked for about two hours, covering about six miles.
About midway through the hike, Jackie said, “We should stay in shape so that we can bicycle to Allerton, do a walk like this, and then bicycle back home.” (For those of you who aren’t local, that’s roughly a fifty mile bike ride.)
Although that seemed like a great idea, I felt compelled to point out that we didn’t have the option to stay in that shape, because we weren’t in that shape.
We have been before. Back in 2005 we got in shape to do a century ride in Kalamazoo. Three of our longer training rides that summer were to Monticello, including one where we went all the way to Allerton Park. We didn’t hike six miles while we were there, but we did go on to do our century ride a few weeks later.
I think we have a shot at that level of fitness this year, mainly because we’re building our fitness over the winter. With a little luck (and plenty of long hikes this winter), we’ll be able to jump right in and do some longer training rides as soon as the weather permits. In that case, we can work up to fifty-mile round trips in just a month or two, meaning that we’ll be able to ride to Allerton as early as April or May.
I’m looking forward to doing long rides all summer, instead of just a few weeks at the end.