Monday, April 11, 2011

Wildflowers in Charlestown State Park

Charlestown State Park, near Charlestown, IN, recently merged with the Falls of the Ohio State Park, so many of our volunteer activities are now extended to this other facility.  Opened in 1996, it occupies part of a 15,000 acre site formerly run by the US Army as an ammunition plant.  Many of the old rusty, collapsing buildings are still there since the plant shut down after the end of WWII.  Another Army testing ground near Madisonville, IN, has been turned into a National Wildlife Refuge. CSP sits on the banks of the Ohio River, though, at the former Charlestown Landing and Rose Island Park locations. Saturday's Raptor Day Event at the park was cut short due to severe weather that roared through - high wind, hail, thunder, and darkness accompanied by driving rain.  I know because I tried to drive home through the middle of it!

 Our friend and fellow volunteer, Richard Lyons, led the wildflower hike along Trail 6, described as a rugged 2.3 mile trail.  We started down a flat wooded path along the river, where the Dwarf Larkspur, Wood Poppy, and Wood Anemone bloomed in profusion.  This isn't so bad, I thought to myself.  Why is it described as rugged?

In spots along the trail we saw limestone bluffs above our heads through the trees. Downstream, where the city of Louisville sits, the valley is broad and flat, although the Interstate cuts through solid limestone to get there.  At this point, we saw the outcropping of that limestone on the Indiana side of the river.
Then we started to climb, up and up and up.  After the heavy rain the day before, the trail got a little slippery in spots, but the creek flowed without silt on its 200 foot downward journey to the river.  My yoga and exercise at the YMCA is paying off.  I climbed the hill without having to stop and catch my breath on the way up!
Bright green ferns sprouted from cracks in the solid rock, sheltered by moss. Wood Anemone bloomed in the moss atop limestone boulders.

Pawpaw trees sported  little purple umbrellas...

...and one group of boulders hosted a colony of native Columbines, noted for preferring to grow in the limestone.  These may need another day or two to actually bloom, but the spider didn't seem to care as she spun her small web in the buds.

When we returned to the lower level, I admired the red bud trees.  Tree blossoms always intrigue me.
Their flowers are just as intricate as any growing closer to the earth.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Very nice. I enjoyed seeing the blossoms from the Pawpaw trees, had not seen those before and the little blueish flowers are soooo pretty~