Horse Rock and Shotgun Creek - March 11, 2017
Coordinator Lane Harris, narration and pictures by Lane Harris

16 enthusiastic hikers made the drive past Marcola near Springfield to make a steady uphill climb towards part 1 of our hike, Horse Rock. While the skies appeared threatening, the rain never fell on us, but the wind was quite fierce. We enjoyed great views of the surrounding hills while we marched through leprechaun-green meadows laced with rocky outcroppings. Upon arrival to giant Horse Rock, most of the hikers peered into the cave underneath the rock, but none dared crawl into the dark hollow. Some of the faster hikers ventured further uphill past the rock on what appeared to be a barely distinguishable trail, which was not part of the hike itinerary. They were soon reined back in and directed towards the proper direction. Upon reaching an appropriate turn-around point at the top of the ridge, the wind was whipping at our faces quite ferociously, so we decided to delay lunch until we arrived at Shotgun Creek. The group did a reversal to head downhill, and with the trail remaining in view for nearly a quarter mile in spots, hikers appeared like tiny ants marching along in the distance along the ridgeline. Although this portion only totaled 3 miles, everyone agreed it felt a lot longer, most likely due to the elevation gain. But the views made it worth the effort.

After the descent off the hill from Horse Rock, everyone met up at Shotgun Creek Recreation Site to have lunch at the covered pavilion before we set out for part 2. A light, misty rain began to fall as everyone set off for a loop hike along Shotgun Creek and the surrounding wooded hillside. There were a few tricky wet crossings we had to endure, but that is to be expected this time of year. Moss covered trees and quaint creek crossings were the highlights along this fern-lined trail. The trees helped shield everyone from the light rain, which was now falling from the grey skies. As usual, the once-tight group eventually got spread out along the trail, allowing everyone to decide which trail junctions they wanted to take. Most hikers opted to cut the hike short by taking quicker paths back to the parking lot. Hike leader Lane was the only one to complete the entire 3.4 mile loop, but his faithful group was awaiting his arrival back, which he greatly appreciated. Everyone enjoyed this 2-parter, with their feet just a little bit wetter than when they started. All in all, it was a fine day of hiking.


 

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