After a couple weeks of visiting family up in Michigan it was time to move on because - well honestly, kinda like green beer and arsenic, I'm best if taken in small doses. (Just ask The Wife!)
But with my adventurous nature all stirred up (Is that a side effect of arsenic? I know I haven't been drinking the green beer!) I decided another stopover, maybe a little more leisurely stopover this time, at Turkey Run State Park on the way home was in order.
With that in mind my target for the first day's run was the Crawfordsville Walmart.
After a leisurely morning chilling with The Sister - the retired one - I headed out and got to the Walmart shortly before sundown (RV's and trucks are encouraged to use the east side of the parking lot opposite the auto care area.) and it put me only a half-hour or so from the State Park which meant I could get an early start on my second visit to this place.
According to the web-site the park opens at 0700.
I rolled up to the stop-sign at the gate-house with my $9 in hand at 0710.
There was no one inside.
I thought about it for a moment, then drove on in anyway because daylight was burning and it's not my fault they can't get out of bed on time.
I tried the park office just beyond the gate-house but it was also closed - as was the Nature Center.
Oh well. I dug the previous visit's receipt out of the recycling pile, threw it haphazardly on the dash, which is pretty high up on a Sprinter so it's not easy to read the small print, such as date issued, from the ground, then went on about my day with only a slight dent in my conscience.
First order was to climb back down the 70 steps to the riverbank, but instead of crossing Sugar Creek on the suspension bridge like last time
this time I hung a right and followed Trail 1 along this side of the river, working my way east towards the rising sun and the covered bridge.
I immediately went past what I can only assume, since there was no information to be had, on map or placard, is - or was - some sort of pumping station, .
It was a very nice, refreshingly private, stroll
along the creek (River to those of you that live further west)
through dew-beaded vegetation,
past incredibly lit vignettes,
and around the nose of Goose Rock - which is actually a part of the bluff overhead that has fallen off, so keep your ears open for the sound of rock cracking!
Along the way there are picturesque glimpses of the first real destination of the day
and it wasn't long before I was at the covered bridge that has been supplanted by the concrete upstart that now carries the county road across Sugar Creek.
Next stop was the Lusk Landfill.
To get there I went south a little ways on Trail 2, which I was going to take anyway in order to make this a loop hike instead of an out and back.
Since the photo of this placard is difficult to read unless blown up, let me fill you in on what it says.
In what is clearly another example of petty men who think they have power screwing over the 'little people', in 1880 John, the reclusive son of Salmon Lusk who originally settled the area, wanted easier access to the family home. The county agreed that if he built an earth-fill across a challenging ravine the county would build a road across the top of it. John sold two of the virgin-timber trees he dedicated his life to preserving for $25,000, that's about 3/4 of a million in today's dollars, and used the money to have the fill constructed. Only to have the slimy little county officials reroute the road around the fill anyway.
OK OK, So that's not exactly the way it's put in the placard but I see nothing wrong with calling a slime-ball a slime-ball.
But the joke is on those despicable little men and their power-games because the fill has created a valuable wet-land habitat that John probably would have been much happier with than a road anyway.
Today John Lusk is known and celebrated for his conservation work while the names and non-accomplishments of those government thugs have been long forgotten.
Just in case you might have been lured into thinking this side of the river is less rugged than the other,
this segment of Trail 2 passes through Gypsy Gulch
and Box Canyon
before returning to the more placid terrain of the parking lot near the Nature Center.
After a quick snack back at The Van I took off hiking again. In the other direction this time.
I thought this was going to be a kinda gentrified stroll along the Lieber Tour,
to check out the 1920 Turkey Run Inn which is still operated by the park system,
the 1850 Lieber cabin constructed out of huge slabs of old-growth Tuliptree logs
up 32 inches wide,
the Juliet Strauss memorial celebrating a journalist and equal rights advocate that also championed preserving Turkey Run,
and the Lieber Memorial - Richard Lieber was a key figure in the entire Indiana park system - which, sitting in a quiet nook in the woods,
overlooks a log church - that's the shoulder of his memorial in the bottom left - that he saved and had moved here.
Descendants of the original congregation that donated time and materials to build the church in the first place still meet here once a year.
And I was partially right - you know, about that whole gentrified stroll thing.
But then I thought I might as well hike the loops of Trails 6 &7 while I was here at this end of the park
and while doing so take a detour to check out the campground.
Well things got a little less gentrified in a hurry!
Here I'm standing at one end of the bridge that will take me from the Trail 6 loop onto the Trail 7 loop.
See the handrail of the bridge peeking out of the foliage in the bottom center?
OK, now look up. See the wooden steps and railings up there at the end of that arrow? That's part of the Trail 7 loop.
That downed tree taking up the left side of the photo, in addition to partially blocking the bridge (I was able to push on through anyway) had landed on and crushed a portion of the Trail 7 loop into impassable splinters forcing me to turn left on the other side of the bridge instead of right and treat this segment as an out-and-back rather than a loop.
Similar to other areas of the park, Trail 7 along here is more of a creek in the bottom of a very steep gully than a typical trail.
And Trail 6 wasn't any different.
This bridge, with a glimpse of the Turkey Run Inn at the end of it, once carried the highway across one of the steep-sided ravines around here and now leads to the Lieber Memorial and church. (Up and around a turn out of sight behind me as I took this.)
This photo is hard to read - which is photog-speak for difficult to figure out what you're looking at - because I'm standing on that bridge shooting straight down - the top of the concrete railing is there across the bottom of the photo.
That diagonal slash in the bottom is the creek bed some 70 feet below. It's also Trail 6.
Turkey Run Hollow is also along Trail 6.
As I was climbing up out of here I ran into a woman from the philharmonic of Indianapolis. She was trying to find the hollow to scout it out for a potential, full-orchestra promotional video shoot. It would work great for that! But I don't envy some of the members trying to carry the larger instruments in and out of there!
Yeah, it's fine. Not great, but fine.
There are a handful of pull-through's but they are only located on corners where there wasn't enough room to squeeze in a 'regular' campsite, so may not be as big as some might hope for. The vast majority of the sites are back-in's and not all sites are suitable for giga-rigs, so if your rig is large careful selection of a site while making reservations is probably a good idea.
OK, By now I've managed to tramp nearly 8 miles and burn up most of the day. My next stop is only 3.5 hours away but it's already going to be touch-and-go whether I make it there before sundown, so I'm outahere.