A little time on the Prairie

This winter has shortchanged us on snow so far (it’s Dec. 23rd as I write this), but we did get a little bit so I headed to the section of Prairie River I discovered a few weeks ago. Further investigation shows that it is DNR Property. Knowing that makes me breathe a little easier. I’m not on unposted private land that might cause someone to be upset.

A new obsession

Even though most of my attention was for the river, I still spotted little details like this spruce seedling. I don’t know if it’s a last living part of that downed tree it’s on, or a separate sprout, but either way it’s terribly cute. The sporophytes were just a bonus.

Singled out

The day promised to be mostly cloudy and I was lucky to get a few shots with sun. The conditions were similar the last time I was here and I like the effect. Total overcast skies sometimes rob the scenes of sparkle.

To be different I chose the other side of the river and discovered a very small island that’s hard to make out from the other side. It just looks like the bank, but the river splits into two channels with one being so much slower and shallower that it was basically frozen.

Many ways to get there

Showing you the island will have to wait because I found a person on it. She was hanging out in one of those cube-shaped pop-up shelters. As I approached I had no idea what the heck was going on (and a huge billow of smoke came out of it and kind of ruined some shots), but we got to chatting and she said that she started doing this with a screen shelter in the summer – just getting away into nature and sketching or reading or whatever. It’s such a great idea that I might steal it!

Gossamer silk
Cult of the underworld
Time for drama

This next shot is from the other bank and you can see the pop-up in the back. She’s got the flap closed and her eyes are probably watering from the smoke from her tiny camp stove. Every now and then she’d get out and hunt up some sticks to keep it burning. Too funny.

Never off base

As you can see the clouds came in, but some careful polarizer management brought up some reflections of the sky that was still visible overhead –

Never checking the time

Eventually I worked my way down to some more dramatic cascades. Not a waterfall exactly, but a really big boulder field with another, larger, island. Photographing it was tough so I didn’t try, but went on past it and wound up on a little section of river that got a lot of my time. All these shots were taken on a small area of the bank. Some looking upstream and some down. Moving just a few feet either way changed the scene dramatically. Getting here in high summer will be tough, but I might have to try!

Composing your farewell
Wanting it all
The invention of memory
Phantom dancer

One of the wonderful things about a river like this is the ice that forms on the submerged rocks. It’s a little ghostly and adds a touch of mystery to the waterscapes. While I was taking the photos above a mink appeared here and there on the shoreline looking for lunch. Maybe if I go back I can get some shots of one. They’re so lively and quick that I’ll have to get very lucky!

The way down the bank started to get pretty difficult (no trails) and I decided to head to the other side where I’d been the first time. Over that way there is a rudimentary trail and so I thought the going might be easier. It was up to a point, but I wasn’t discouraged. Once the daylight hours start getting longer I can go further.

Everything you wanted
Your new reality

This little area was amazing. There is a big collection of boulders to climb on and get a little higher. Luckily they weren’t icy and my footing, for me and the tripod, was secure. Here’s a look to the right of where I was for the shots above.

The quiet way

As the light faded I got a little cold so decided to head home. A couple days later I headed out again to scout some other DNR Fishery areas to see if they would work for access. Not as well as this one, but they could hold some promise, too.

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