Holiday in Hoosierland

Hoosierland is always a fun time visiting with family!  This year, amid the craziness of Christmas preparations I was able to take a hike the Milwaukee Rail Trail with my son, Logan, who is finishing his senior year at Indiana State, and my niece, Isa, who is dreaming about life after grad school.

Headed east to Bedford!

Headed east to Bedford!

I was staying at the Sheriff’s House B&B owned by none other than host extraordinaire, Rowena Cross-Najafi, my sister! If you are interested in checking out the rail trail or hiking in the Hoosier National Forest, then this is a perfect spot to go glamping! I stayed in the “World Traveler Room” this time, but the “Princess Room” is just as fun…and no one should be staying at a chain hotel when this costs $75 a night with an awesome home cooked breakfast in a beautiful setting. Who knows…she might even give you a ride to the trail. 🙂

Sheriff's House B&B...my sister will treat you well!

Sheriff’s House B&B…my sister will treat you well!

After Rowena dropped us at the Coxton Road trail head, we walked east on the Milwaukee Trail along the White River.  It was full and flowing fast from recent storms. Storms that produced a few tornadoes. In December. While we were out on the road. Yep. Thought I was gonna die.  HOOSIERLAND!  But the storms had moved south taking the drama with them into Mississippi and Alabama.  This day, Christmas Eve, was absolutely gorgeous.

Logan and I on the trail!

Logan and I on the trail!

The White? River

The White? River

The Milwaukee Rail Trail will eventually extend further west, but for today we were happy to stroll a relaxing five miles back to town along the river and through some pretty interesting geological formations.  Isa is a geology major and was happy to give us the geological tour through centuries of limestone.  Very cool stuff!

Isa and Logan and LIMESTONE!

Isa and Logan and LIMESTONE!

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It was a beautiful walk.  We stumbled upon an abandoned river cabin and poked around a little before continuing our way east.  We all wondered about the family who came to hang out at the river.  What a nice life!

There wasn’t much left…a torn lawn chair complete with discarded old beer can, a dilapidated swing set frame, and a house that was partially collapsing…but it sparked the imagination none the less.  I probably could have sat there for hours just writing in a journal…and it would have all been depressing (because abandoned houses just bring out the sad in me).  So I am glad I wasn’t by myself, because this was a day to rejoice!

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Wilson Park Trail

We exited the trail at Wilson Park and walked through Bedford on our way back to the Sheriff’s B&B.  Thankful to have such a wonderful Christmas Eve! Hike on!

Browning Mountain and Basketball History (yes, Still Exploring Indiana!)

Down the road that goes to Elkinsville (or went to Elkinsville) is Browning Mountain.  At 920 feet, I am not sure why it is called a mountain.  I thought 1000 feet made a mountain…but I got that info from a movie in which cutie pie Hugh Grant played the lead … so you know, there is a slight possibility I am wrong!  I am not bothered by that in the least. 🙂 Hugh Grant is “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Down a Mountain” and very persuasive!

Over the years, I have heard some mysterious, almost magical, stories about the stones on top of Browning Mountain.  These stones, which are quite large, are not native to the area and no one really knows how they came to be on top of Browning Mountain.  Today was my day to climb the mountain!

Getting to the trail head was not a problem.  We followed Elkinsville Road through Story, passed the Nebo Ridge Trailhead (stopped to get a map for future hike!), then went another mile or so until we saw the canoe rental place.  We turned around there and backtracked about a 100 feet to find a spot to park on the side of the road next to the trail.

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Headed up the Mountain

The first part of the trail is pretty steep, then you continue to climb along the ridge.  We encountered several blow downs … seems to be a pretty regular occurrence on the ridges in Indiana.
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It was a great day though, blue skies, gentle breezes, so the climb up was mostly delightful!  We missed a right turn onto the trail that goes to the mysterious rocks somehow and kept walking for quite some time until we came to a fork in the trail. At this point, my sister, Rowena, was pretty sure we had come too far but wasn’t completely and totally sure, so we took the trail marked with two orange ribbons which headed to the left.  When we started to go steeply downhill, Rowena decided indeed this was not the right way.  So we back tracked to the fork and took the other branch…after another 15 minutes…nothing.

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This is a trail marking???

Rowena had cell service so we looked on line for a website that might have a map or clues for which to look.
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A geocache site stated that “There is a hidden intersection on the trail (look for the large, fallen tree that blocks the trail).”  Okay, that is the STUPIDEST clue ever!!! There were at least FIVE THOUSAND large, fallen trees on the trail!!!

At least we knew two things now 1) the trail to the rocks was behind us and 2) the trail to the rocks was near a fallen tree.  Alrighty-let’s go!

On our way back, we met a nice family from Cincinnati with two young girls. Together we found the trail without too much drama, Yay!
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The rocks were pretty cool…but the whole spot is beautiful.  Both my sister and I took some time to lay on the rocks and look up at the sky.  Very nice!

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BoobOnARock literally…

The adventure did not stop with Browning Mountain! On our way back home we stopped in at the Freetown History Museum, a one man operation in Freetown, Indiana.  My sister volunteers at the Lawrence Co. Historical Museum so this was especially interesting for her!  I wasn’t expecting anything, so of course, I end up finding something amazing!

Basketball history! But not your typical basketball history.  The history of basketball in Freetown, Indiana.  And…here’s the thing…the girls had a basketball team in Freetown BEFORE the boys! Check out the girls bball team from 1921 or 1922 in the photos below.

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Mr. Fritz (to the right) unlocked the doors and gave us a personal tour!

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This is so cool…and if Freetown had a girls team, then that means other towns would have had girls teams also, right?  They had to play other teams!  I want to know more…so if anyone out there knows anything about girls high school basketball teams in Indiana…let me know!!!

Keep exploring, learning and as always, Hike on!

Fabulous Sculpture Trail in Solsberry, Indiana

Continuing my tour of southern Indiana while I visit with family this week!

Today, my sister, Rowena, introduced me to the Sculpture Trail in Solsberry, Indiana. Along the way there, we found we were starving so we stopped in at the Yoho General Store. Rowena got a classic biscuits & gravy. I got the most vegetarian thing on the menu (without being potato salad) which was cheese sticks. It worked and we were soon off to find the Sculpture Trail.

Thank goodness Rowena was riding shotgun giving directions! There were a few twists and turns that would have probably resulted in me taking an all day drive without ever reaching any particular destination. There were also a few small signs, thoughtfully placed, to direct us to the Sculpture Trail so we were soon pulling off into a small parking lot.

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Ahhh…another beautiful day in Indiana. We tromped into the woods, walking along a trail that skirted a ridge. I stopped to listen to fresh spring water cascading down a hill into a still pond and spring peepers chirping joyfully!

Continuing, I found a turtle standing stoically to my right as if his job was to watch the entrance to this magical place.

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Then my eye caught something soaring on the ridge itself…a figure, arms thrown jubilantly skyward! Such accomplishment-how many times have I felt this after climbing to the top of a ridge?

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In this same area, the woods took on a witchy feel. There were signs of a campfire in the middle of several sculptures.

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Rising from the flames


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An archway pulled me deeper into the forest. I quickly realized it was not an arch, but two separate pieces that arched towards each other. They looked like opposing thumbs! Rowena pointed out that the part that I thought looked like the nail bed on the tip of the thumb like structure was imprinted with a face. HOW CURIOUS!
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We continued to wind our way around the ridge. The map provided at the trail head was a little out of date. No worries, I don’t think there is any way to get lost and it was a great deal of fun to just wander, look, and discover each piece of sculpture. It was like finding little treasures!
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I could have definitely spent an entire afternoon just sitting in one area of this place studying a few pieces. A great place for meditation.

Then I saw something dancing in the woods ahead of me. Oh, wow. Wow.wow.

I fell in love with this piece. This was me.
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This piece encompasses all that I feel as I waltz down a trail into the woods. Deeper and deeper until the branches of the trees above intertwine and the fog of the forest sweeps around my feet.
Hike on!

Knobstone Trail Oxley Memorial to Leota Trail Head

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Headed out this holiday season to visit family in my home state of Indiana.  While there I was hoping to get down and hike a bit of the Knobstone Trail.  I have heard this trail is used to train for the AT and as an AT section hiker I wanted to check it out to […]