Pere Marquette – Jan 2004

Not long after Tom and I went on our first backpacking trip in Yosemite high country in late 2004, I decided I needed a new camera, my first digital camera. Tom’s camera had taken some good shots on that trip and it just made way more sense for a computer guy like me. I had been using a scanner which was pretty annoying. After I picked out the camera and got it on a holiday sale, I needed to play around with it, so I headed out to Pere Marquette State Park, near Grafton, IL along the Illinois River. I had been there before pretty far back with my family and we checked out the lodge, and biked along the River Road trail a bit. However, I don’t think I had hiked the trails there before. So, this was a great chance to do a little hiking and play around with my camera. I got a great feel for the area and the park, and I’ve been back to Pere Marquette many times since.

Mossy log in Pere Marquette State ParkI remember that unfortunately I hadn’t bought a memory card yet (I was planning to buy that elsewhere from where I bought the camera due to them being overpriced there), so I only had space for 9-10 shots in high quality mode. I deleted some along the way to make space, but here is some of what I have left. I had fun trying out macro mode, and still one of my favorite macro shots to this day is one of my shots of the moss on a log there. I spied some eagles soaring above but I wasn’t able to get very good shots of them due to the distance, even with the higher zoom of the camera.

Being January, the trees were bare, but there was still actually a lot of green around surprisingly. On the trails, there was a fallen leaf cover on the ground. There were great views along the Illinois River. The park is mostly forested but there is a little prairie here and there, like on the top of McAdams Peak.

Goat Cliff Trail in Pere Marquette State Park Tugboat pushing barges on Illinois River near Pere Marquette View from high point Stump Lake and Illinois River Another moss patch

Background on the park:

Pere Marquette has a good amount of elevation change, more than any area I know in this part of Illinois. This is partly due to the bluff of the Illinois River. This bluff, and the Illinois River channel was once the channel of the ancient Mississippi River, and a major outflow path for meltwater from the continental ice sheet. The floodplain is now far larger than what would have been generated from flow of the Illinois today. Also, since Pere Marquette is near the border of where the continental glacier that covered the northern part of North America extended south, glacial deposits such as loess are a feature here. Of course the limestone river bluffs make for a scenic drive, especially heading back south from Pere Marquette along the Great River Road.

Native Americans had a large presence here, and had burial mounds throughout the area, including one on McAdams Peak which is noted on a plaque at the pavilion there. Marquette and Joliet were the first European explorers to this area and there is a limestone cross monument along the road to mark their crossing of the Illinois River here. The park was created in 1932, and the lodge and many structures including trails in the park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. I would definitely take a minute to step into the lodge and check it out, especially the massive fireplace.

There are campgrounds, both for RVs and primitive sites, and showers. And there are also rustic cabins for rent near the lodge. There are possibilities for many activities. Check out the Pere Marquette website from Illinois DNR for more information.

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