Thursday, September 22, 2011

Leonard Springs Nature Park

No Random Thought Thursday today because I have an even better post for you. Over the weekend, I saw a blurb in the Bloomington Herald-Times about an upcoming environmental education class called Caves Among Us at Leonard Springs Nature Park. It was listed as a free event for families, sponsored by Bloomington Parks and Recreation.

What? A free class? A family event? One that involves caves? Hells yeah, sign us up!

The Polack and I haven't done a lot of exploring of Bloomington parks. I keep saying we need to make the rounds of each one to see what it has to offer and then we can rate it for my fellow blog readers. (The two of you who live in Bloomington would appreciate it, right?) We've lived here a year and have only been to Bryan Park, Griffy Lake, and Cascades. How very bad of us. (Hanging head in shame.) So this opportunity was the perfect event for us. I knew there was a park off Leonard Springs road but I had NO IDEA HOW COOL IT IS. Let me just tell you IT. IS. AWESOME.

So last night, the educational specialist and group of about 10 of us started a one mile trek around the park. Here's a before shot.

This is the first of two caves at the park. Unfortuantely, due to White Nose Syndrome, we weren't able to go in to the cave.

We were shown a topography map of it though. I was really surprised at how big it is, compared to the small entrance.

After the first cave, we made our way down a very steep set of stairs to the second cave.

This is Shelter Cave. Nicklas doesn't look nearly as excited as he was because we actually got to go in this cave. Normally, people aren't supposed to go in but because we were with a parks and rec employee, we were granted access.

Seeger's not sure about going in!

He was quick to grab the Polack's hand and he wouldn't go to far in. It was too dark for him. Nicklas on the other hand, well he went as far as he could.
Here's a picture looking out from inside the cave.

After we left the cave, we went down a lot more steps. We could hear running water and as we rounded a corner, we saw a cool waterfall. Here is a photo of the boys at the bottom of it. It's much bigger than this and it was very beautiful. I will get an awesome photo of it the next time I'm at the park.

About a quarter of a mile into the hike, we come upon the wetland area. In the early 1900's, this used to be a reservoir for Bloomington. Unfortunately, it was built on top of a heavy limestone area. Limestone is soft and it causes water to leak through (which is how caves are formed) so the City couldn't keep up with demand. IU was not happy about the lack of water and threatened to move the University to Indianapolis. Of course Bloomington didn't want this to happen so they created another reservoir, north of town, and this one became abandoned.
Bloomington City Utilities owned the property until is was turned over to Parks and Recreation in 1998. Here's a view from the top; we're standing on top of the dam.

After another half mile (and a stop at the toilet pit for Seeger), we made it back to the park entrance. It was an awesome evening and the four of us had so much fun. We will definitely be bringing family and friends to Leonard Springs Nature Park so that we can share the beauty of southern Indiana with everyone who will let us.

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