Gone Hiking: This Land Is Mine!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

This land is mine!  And yours too... Psalm 37:11 says, "The meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." God is our Father, and the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10).  Since we are His children, the earth is our inheritance.  The clip above is the theme from the movie Exodus, which I haven't seen for ages (and can't tell you if it's worth watching or not), but the song is beautiful.  

Hiking in the Iowa River
     We decided to take a little adventure and headed down to the Iowa River.  Because of the drought, the river is quite low.  This year we have walked down the river several times, but even when our intentions have been to find a good swimming hole, we have never found a place more than waist deep.  This time I had the vain hope of not getting my socks wet...  

     Our starting point was near the bridge in Steamboat Rock, Iowa, and for a short time I was successful at keeping water out of my boots...until we came to a spot where the river narrowed.  On one side were steep limestone cliffs and on the other side not much of a bank, just water.  I gave up, and soon water sloshed over the top of my rubber boots--up to my knees--and my socks were soaked!  

We continued down the river and the river bed broadened again, revealing many spots which should have been wet but now were dry (see photo above).  The day was nice and warm, and we eventually came to a chair someone had left on a sandbar--with a container of fishing worms.  Poor things!  Next time the fisherman returns, I think he will be serving baked worms to the fish.  

The evening gradually wore on.  Someone found a piece of old pottery which they speculated may have been made centuries ago by Native Americans.  Finally, we decided it was getting too dark--time to turn around and head home.  But return by the same route?  Not us!  We cut through the woods and up a  hill.  A few of us found an old deer trail which made the going much easier, but the more adventurous ones of us literally crawled up the steepest part.  


We reached the top hill, and someone happily remarked, "We made it!"  "To where?" someone replied.  Now that was the question!  At the top of the hill was a small prairie area and someone suggested, "Why don't we just camp out here?"  "We'd be dinner if we did that (dinner for the mosquitoes),"  I replied; we'd probably too swollen with mosquito bites by morning to walk out of there alive.  

So on we traveled.  We decided it would be a lot easier to walk through a corn field adjacent to the grass land than to cut through the woods, so we followed the rows of a corn field for quite a while until we came back to a hiking trail.  

The soil in the cornfield was sandy, so the corn looked very sad, hardly better than grass (sorry for the photo quality; it was very hard to get good photos in the dusk).    Farther from the edge of the woods, the corn was a little better and we did see some ears, but they were rather small in comparison to normal good Iowa corn.

The hiking trail was paved with asphalt, and so it was extremely hard to see any of us who were wearing dark-colored clothes--as a matter of fact, it was hard to see anything!  We did make it back to our van after a long hike down the trail.  And we were ready for our next adventure in two days!

Pine Lake

     This time, our goal was another family excursion around Lower Pine Lake.  We've hiked around both Lower and Upper Pine Lake several times, and once we did a double-feature: when we reached where the path forks to go around the upper or lower lakes, 2/3rds of our group were far ahead of  the others.  We chose the path around the lower lake...and when the others came to the fork in the road, they chose the fork around the upper lake.  A ways down the road around the lower lake, we sat down and waited for the others to catch up...and we waited...and waited...and waited!  Finally we decided to go back and look for them, so we retraced our trail to the beginning, then followed the other fork for a ways, but could never find them.  So we decided they must have turned around and started looking for us, so we followed our path all the way around lower Pine Lake and then sat on a dock and waited until, lo, and behold, they met us coming from around the Upper Lake!  We both had had quite the adventures but were we ever glad to see each other again!

      This time we hoped our trip would be less dramatic, without surprise "good-byes" and happy reunions.  

The lake was beautiful as always.

We passed by several other walkers and joggers, and then took a look at this tunnel from a parking lot on one side of the highway to the trail by the beach. 

There's a very nice picnic shelter near the beach, and we rested in that area for a while watching the vultures soar overhead.  Sometimes we see bald eagles or pelicans at the lake, but not today.

The path is paved and there were benches and picnic tables here and there along the trail for weary travelers, but we were full of energy, and not so weary... so we walked on. 

When we came to the dam which separates Upper Pine Lake from Lower Pine Lake we were surprised!

It's not supposed to be like that...

For the second leg of the trip (around the other side of the lake), the path is not as high-class, but much more exciting!

The younger ones of us jogged around curves, leaped over steps, and hid under bridges to try to make it especially exciting for the others...

Yes, this is what the underside of a bridge looks like... ;)

We made it back home in good time--no more hikes in the dark!

If you're looking for a great place to take a hike, I definitely recommend Pine Lake.  If you are less adventurous, take the route we took around the lower lake. If you are more adventurous, give the Upper Lake a try.  To walk around the Upper Lake, you will need to walk through woods without paths, fjord a stream (or grab a tree limb and swing yourself over the creek), visit a raccoon grave-yard, cut your way through brambles, and avoid sinking in a swamp (with clay-colored water which stains shoes and socks).   I know from experience that the route around the upper lake is not for the faint in heart.  Whichever route you choose, I guarantee you will have fun--if you survive!  

God created this beautiful land, and we should forever thank Him!

 This land is mine!  This land is yours!  Enjoy it to the fullest!


  1. Mmmm! This post and the fall-like weather I'm feeling today make me want to go for a hike too. Can hardly wait for the leaves to turn. I'm thinking tonight would be a good night for a campfire. Thanks for sharing your outdoor adventures and photos.

  2. A pleasure ;) Hope you have fun and enjoy the campfire!!