Endurance develops strength of character in us~ Romans 5:4 NLT

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Glenwood Preserve~

We'd driven past many times - then - at the Mills Country Trails Board meeting this area was mentioned.  Easter dawned a perfect day!  Our church served everyone a wonderful breakfast before service, so once home, the ham went in the oven & we were on our way!
Archeological State Preserve
From the reading I've done to date, this area encompasses over 900 acres of stunning, rolling, SW Iowa open space.  In Iowa, I've discovered that there seems to be a non-profit in place for anything & everything related to any  existing open space.  This area is no exception - the Loess Hills Archaeological Interpretative Center is the non-profit with a BOD in place - for this yet to be realized project.
Stand for the interpretative signage~
The State Department of Transportation shows maps for bicycle riders on their website. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is the agency that controls who has the right to use the states public lands.  From what I've been told - in recent years - areas used by Equestrians have been closed. I've asked for clarification as to the part of the Wabash Trail open to horsemen - so far without receiving a response.  
Informative Signage~
Reading the signage above, it's saddening to see what happened to the state's ground cover from the mid-1800's to the early 2000's.  Prairie's & Savana's disappearing against the advent of ever advancing cropland.  When I was young, co-op farming was just appearing - small family farms being bought up by large commercial investors.
No Equestrians!
Site integrity & erosion issues are the most often cited as the reason Equestrian use is not allowed.  Soils here are indeed much different even from those of WA state - where I am the most familiar with trail issues.  Here though - trail damage caused by bicycle use is something I've not heard or seen mentioned as an issue. 

I wish I'd taken photos the last time I was at Capitol Forest, WA of the damage done there by bikes.  (Here's a link showing erosion damage.)  In more recent years, that forest has undergone many changes.  Much of what was originally designated for Equestrian's have now become mixed-use or no longer maintained for horses.  This at the same time bicycle presence has dramatically increased.  Even so, there's now a large volunteer effort, spearheaded by the local Back Country Horsemen Chapter in place.  The Capitol Riders do everything possible to mitigate the heavy use that the ever increasing population has caused.
Beautiful arched bridge~
There was no map of the trails & with two choices, one going due east & the other south over this bridge, we took the bridge :-)
This trail climbed~
I was very glad we did!  After crossing the creek, the trail climbed a way before turning to the east.  The undergrowth is pretty heavy, brush, fallen limbs from trees, plants I took to be invasive etc.  But - in a spot I will not disclose - my eye caught the glimmer of white!
Erythronium albidum - White Trout Lily
I was completely thrilled to see the ethereal looking Lily above!  These will be the replacement flower for my usual spring Trillium hunt!  :-)
Grouping of Trout Lilys~
My new Native Plants of the Midwest book - came to my rescue in identifying these.  The white pedals open only in sunshine and curve skyward.  Taking years to establish large masses - this plant takes 30-years to flower~!
Huge beautiful - yet to be identified tree~
We followed the paved path to a junction where a mowed path headed up the hill.  Always on the lookout for high points - we took it & made the climb to the top.  Our reward was of more amazing views.
Dry grasses against a rapidly appearing clouds~
There was just enough wind that we could hear the grasses moving in the breeze.
View of Glenwood to the West~
From our vantage point, we could just pick out all three of the Glenwood water towers on the horizon.  From here, we turned east & came to the preserves boundary, marked by barbed wire & signage.
End of State Preserve~
We followed the fence line & mowing back down the side of the hill.  The junipers I've learned have been invading grasslands - which must be why is see them cut in places along side roads.  On Grandpa's farm, they thrived in the gully's.
Mowed path~
The path connected us again with the paved portion of the trail that we'd left.  We followed it east again & soon came to this abandoned area of covered picnic spots.  Beautiful at one time, well built, metal framed tables & nice barbeque stands, some of which had been broken off by vandals.
Two of the four picnic shelters~
This marked the end of this portion of trail.  I was still looking carefully on the floor of the woods, hoping to find another treasure.  On a wooded hillside, where many small ferns were sending up their shoots, another tiny bit of white caught my eye.
Dicentra cucullaria - Dutchman's breeches
I'd seen photos of these in my book, but didn't dream I'd find one!  The name is derived from the blooms resemblance to pendant, upside-down white britches.  The flowers are inflated & translucent - making them appear luminous.
Trails end~
Again, we reached the end of the mile long trail that ran straight out from the parking area.  After short break, we started back.  No more blooming wildflowers, the grasses are supposed to be native to the region, but I'm not familiar enough with them yet to recognize if they indeed were.  What has been funny to me - is that Reed Canary Grass, so invasive in Western, WA state - I've seen listed as a native species here & even recommended to control erosion along the side of streams.  Other more mindful web pages give better descriptions as to it's invasive properties...
Trail-head parking
I have so much to learn & understanding the multitude of issues & agencies involved is a large task that will take time.  This area would make an incredible place for miles of Equestrian trails!  When looking at the signage that showed the root systems of the native grasses, hoof prints would have done no damage.  With a correctly laid out trail system, a horseman's nirvana might yet flourish here?  With so many agencies with their finger in the provable pie - I will do what I can to follow the progress of the plans for this area.  Horsemen here are few - our work is cut out for us.  Our newly formed State BCHIA will be a great place to improve communication with land managers.  I do look forward to visiting horses camps that are within the state!  (Horse Camping in Iowa)

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