Friday, August 1, 2008


Exactly a mile from our house here in St Charles is a parking lot for the Tekakwitha Woods Preserve, a park in the county system. It is similar in size to the Riverwoods church camp, about 60 acres or so, but it also has a public nature center in a really cool old house, and a bike path runs along the east side of the property.

Those of you who have ever lived around moderate sized rivers like the Fox River here know that near rivers you have hills, and this one is no exception. The bike path that runs here goes some distance along the river, at least 20 miles both upstream and down, and because of the winding nature of both river and path, it varies in distance to the river from feet to about that mile I mentioned above.

As a result, up near Tekakwitha woods there is a huge hill - it is about 1/4 mile long and at least 100 feet high, though you would swear it was longer and higher if you were biking up it! When going north nearing the river, you can scream down approaching 40mph, and the ride passes all too quickly. Headed south you get quite the workout on the bike - even a brisk walking pace quickens your breathing and sweats your brow. Also interesting, since our house is at the river, getting to Tekakwitha you climb out of the river valley, so you've already climbed the hill to be able to go down the hill! I've often incorporated a walk on the bikepath into my nearly daily workout and the HILL is a good opportunity to push the heart rate into the red zone one more time before ending the session.
After decades of biking the paths in Tucson that follow normally dry river beds, this stretch of the path here in Illinois is quite magical - imagine, a river with real running water, and a real forest with cooling shade and creatures! This area is my usual hunting grounds for birds and wildlife in the area, so several times a week I walk thru here with camera and telephoto looking for new shooting opportunities.
I've got some great shots from one of my last photo sessions, but will wait for my next post to show you those...

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