Deep into the Hoosier National Forest and then Spring Mill State Park

Hoosier National Forest: Otter Creek Riparian Restoration Area

Yesterday, Stephen Higgs and I ventured off into the depths of the Hoosier National Forest in search of a location a local gave us last summer. We were photographing the Little Blue River when a younger guy stopped to chat while were shooting (he had a pistol on his hip and was probably doing a different type of shooting). After a few minutes, I guess he figured we were ok as he started suggesting places we could photograph. He directed us to one location using our Hoosier National Forest map that he said had great blue herons and wood ducks. It is probably only known to the locals as there is no indication there is a lake near the parking lot and the map did not name the two lakes nor does it show the parking lot. I found only one obscure mention when searching the Internet for the location.

We left Bloomington early and started our drive without consulting a map (Stephen has a better sense of direction then me). About an hour and 15 minutes later, we found our turn and the first parking area. The sign said it was the Otter Creek Riparian Restoration area. We hiked a wide path through both dry and wet areas following Otter Creek to reach the lake. The lake is bordered by some very tall cattails that make an almost solid curtain. We found a few ducks in the distance, but most took to flight at our arrival. I did see a group of about 8 widgeons fly over. Next, we drove about a mile down the road to the parking area for the second lake. The trail forks about 150 feet from the parking area and we decided to take the right fork (the left fork is for later). It worked as we were only as short hike to the lake. There were a few ducks, including one wood duck in the distance. I had high hopes of maybe hundreds of wood ducks based on our chat last summer. I think duck hunters exaggerate like fishermen! Maybe there will be more on a return trip in a few weeks with some time in a blind.

Out of the Forest and Onward to Spring Mill State Park to Shoot the Rapids

After lunch, we headed to Spring Mill State Park. Our vehicle was the only one in the Pioneer Village Parking lot giving us unobstructed shooting until the first of three groups arrived later. We hiked back to Hammer cave hoping to photograph the water flowing from the cave. Unfortunately, the high winds and rains of the past few weeks uprooted a large sycamore tree that redirected the water and flooded the trail obstructing our path. It did not look like there was any damage done other than to the trail. The water in Mill Creek was the highest and fastest flowing I have ever seen. We noticed few spots between the village and parking lot where it had flowed out of its banks. However, the rapid flow and partly cloudy afternoon gave us several goods shots of the rapids.

Either we were not observant or there were no wild flowers in the two areas we visited yesterday. Both of us agreed it felt good to get out and photograph nature. When the wind was blowing, it was quite chilly. The predicted high was in the upper 30’s, but it made it to the mid-40’s by the time we finished. Next week, we are heading to a location that we hope has wild flowers!

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