Early spring sky and water – Otter Creek, Spring Mill

Spring Mill State Park

Spring Mill State Park – Nikon D600; Nikkor 80-400 – f/32, 1/8 sec.; ISO 100

When the wind wasn’t blowing across the Otter Creek Riparian Restoration on March 10, it felt like spring. No wildflowers on this remote part of the Hoosier National Forest in Crawford County yet – I only noticed one dull splotch of dusty purple on the trail, not photogenic enough to justify stopping.

And when the northerly winds gusted, as they often did, I was reminded why there’s still no color. It was a zip-unzip, gloves-on-gloves-off kind of morning. But blue sky and water, whether at Otter Creek or our other stop at Spring Mill State Park two counties north in Lawrence, seldom disappoints, regardless of season.

Besides, we only knew about Otter Creek because an armed-and-friendly Crawford Countian told landscape photographer Gary Morrison and I about it during an encounter at an iron bridge over the Little Blue River last summer. A quick search produced nothing useful about it online. I’ve been champing to get there.

And Friday was the first day of my spring teaching break.

Hoosier National Forest, Otter Creek – Nikon D600; Nikkor 80-400 — f/25, 1/100 sec.; ISO 500

Otter Creek – an obscure Hoosier National Forest wetland

After our bridge buddy told us about Otter Creek, which is home to bald eagles and great blue herons, he said, we stopped at the parking lot but couldn’t see the trail due to the late-July overgrowth. This year the wide path was mowed, and we easily walked to the two reconstructed wetlands—as easy as walking in uneven, soggy, marshy areas ever is.

The property sign says the restoration involved “repairing and enhancing natural levees along the Little Blue River and Otter Creek creating shallow water wetlands.” Natural plants and trees, it says, have been planted in both the up- and lowlands.

Mill Creek runs fast at Spring Mill State Park

As we did last July, after lunch at the Lost River Market & Deli in Paoli, Gary and I stopped at Spring Mill State Park on the way back to Bloomington. This time we walked up the Mill Creek toward Hamer Cave, a trail that’s now blocked by a fallen tree.

Life is still dormant in the Southern Indiana wilds, and color is still a rare commodity in early March, even the most spring-like. This is the season for Southern Indiana water to flow.

And on the rocky Mill Creek above the Pioneer Village, the water ran fast and full. So, we focused our Nikons on the flowing stream that had knocked down the sycamore.

Sky and water.

Hoosier National Forest, Otter Creek

Hoosier National Forest, Otter Creek – Nikon D600; Nikkor 24-70 — f/18, 1/250 sec, EV -1; ISO 200