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Chris' Camera Bag

A Photo Web log by Chris Young

Rock art: Winter at Starved Rock

January 27, 2013 at 10:34 PM

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Leaves are frozen into the creek in Kaskaskia Canyon in Starved Rock State Park near Utica.

Nature takes on a whole new look in Starved Rock State Park, especially in winter when the cold slows creeks and waterfalls to a barely a trickle or a drip.

Even bubbles rising to the surface seem frozen, momentarily, in time.

Starved Rock is located along the Illinois River near Utica, about two hours north of Springfield.

Deep in the park’s sandstone canyons, sunlight visits only briefly during the shortened days of winter, and snow tends to stick around.

The Christmas fern – so named because it stays green, even in late January – decorates the sandstone bluffs, standing out against the snow.

The park was carved by torrents of water released by melting glaciers thousands of years ago. The process of sculpting by water continues today, but at a much slower pace – even slower when winter seems to freeze everything in place.

The park’s waterfalls slowly transform into frozen icefalls - if precipitation and the proper freezing and thawing regimen combine to allow them to grow until they reach the canyon floor.

Last week, the ice waterfalls weren’t as complete as in some past years, but they are still wonders to see – and listen to.

They seem solid, but water keeps flowing, and nature’s processes slow, but never grind to a halt.


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Last light in Ottawa Canyon.

The steep canyon walls keep the environment in the shade most of the day, allowing snow to persist where it has almost completely disappeared elsewhere.

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White pine tree roots and needles in St. Louis Canyon.

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Bubbles, possibly gases from decaying leaves and other matter, are frozen in place.

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The St. Louis Canyon ice waterfall is still forming.

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Christmas ferns are evergreen in late January.

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