THE MOUNDS ADVENTURE
Indiana. Who would have thought Indiana would offer so many of these “superlative” experiences! Or maybe it was just me.
Leaving my car and getting lost.
It started with this inviting and modern visitor center at the Mounds State Park about 45 miles north of Indianapolis. I’m very interested in archeology, paleobiology, and Ice Age people. But the Mounds State Park offered a tourist’s eye view of some mounds built by people who lived here about 2,100 years ago. Good enough.
I had a nice talk with a park ranger in the gift shop inside, and then obtained a map for a short trail walk to see the mounds. Short. Short. I was heading home and eager to be on my way . . . but a 0.5 mile walk shouldn’t be much of a delay.
I discussed my route with the nice park ranger and went over it a second time: so, just down those steps and a little to the left, then take # 1 trail back to the Visitor Center, right? 0.5 miles.
Found the beginning steps easily:
They were steep, but sturdy.
And a lot more of them than the trail map indicated!
Was it six flights of steps – downwards? (At this point I was still innocent of any “upward” thoughts.)
And actually it was getting quite beautiful.
There was an “atmosphere” here. It was cool and moist, the air was fresh, but beyond that there was that sense that you are entering into a different world. Five minutes into this and I was already feeling the people who had lived here so long ago; and respecting them for who they were. This was their Home, their air I was breathing.
It was an ancient place, with trees of all ages. I’d have to duck under that one. (Did young women wash clothes in a stream like that?)
Here is an innocent bystander:
See that? A much older tree fell. For whatever reason, its time was up. But when it fell, it took a young, healthy tree with it. An innocent bystander just got in the way, and now its life is over too. I stayed there for a few minutes, thinking about what that means. It was just an accident. But the healthy young tree will be dead.
I was not finding any mounds, but after a half hour I found a river. I was thoroughly disoriented by now and the Trail Map was no help. There were intersecting pathways of all sizes, but nothing was labeled, no arrows, no trail names. The labels were all on the Trail Map.
The longer I stayed alongside the river, the noisier it got, almost like a waterfall up ahead.
It wasn’t a waterfall, just a change in the river somehow. I really couldn’t figure out what was causing the change. No elevation difference. No protruding stones. I just stared at the river for a while, enjoying the negative ions (which are “positively” good for you.) I shouldn’t have been this relaxed and happy — because I was quite lost.
Farther on I found some fly fishermen — they don’t like to be too near civilization. That means I wasn’t either. Time to make a turn at some next intersection. Hopefully.
Cute little valleys all over the hills –
By now I’m remembering that, yes, indeed, this was once someone’s Home — but not mine. Some of the random turns I was making was taking me up very steep hills. I passed these steps, then after ten minutes came back and decided I’d better take them.
A little more rustic here, deeper into the woods. I thought if I could get to higher ground, maybe I could “see something,” get my bearings. But all I found up there was a young lady just as lost as I was. We discussed where we thought we were on the Trail Map, but we couldn’t even agree which way to hold the map, so we parted company – in opposite directions, wishing each other well.
Found some interesting things along the way:
My cell phone was starting to beg for a battery charge, so I knew I couldn’t take many more good photos. By this time seeing the Mounds was becoming less of a priority. The young lady did mention that she was afraid the park would be closing soon. I hadn’t thought of that.
At last – a fence!
A fence and a sign!! Someone has been here before me! That little rise in the green grass is the side of the “big” mound. It was slightly anticlimactic when compared to the huge hills I had been struggling upwards for the past hour or so – but nevertheless, here are the mounds.
My cell phone and I used what energy we had left and dutifully walked around and in the mound area.
A left view. And then a right view:
After my long “walk in the park,” I decided you’d have to be an archeologist to get really excited about this. It was good. It was good to be there.
My T shirt from the Gift Shop explains much more:
There is a lot more to the mounds than meets the eye. An alignment with the stars. That’s an aerial view of the Mound I was standing in front of. I was standing just about . . . never mind. I’m still not sure.
And I still had to find my way back to the Visitor’s Center. A young couple came up behind me arguing about where they were on the map and how to get out of there. They stopped to read the sign by the mound – which didn’t have a map on it to give a hiker any help – and then they turned around and went back in the direction they came from.
I persisted. Persistence can be really dumb when you’re lost in the woods, but I just couldn’t face all those same trails again.
Let’s just say: I got out.
I bought another souvenir for myself –
A pencil that looks like a twig! How fun is that!
And so . . . I began to enjoy this long walk in the woods.
Glad I saw the mounds.