Saturday Hike at Cherokee Marsh

Our group of friends continues a weekend hiking kick. A few very organized people send out emails, ask for local park suggestions, check the weather and set the date. I like to joke that the rest of us type “yes,” and show up at the designated park with our water bottles. Five to ten of us hit the trail, in conversational groups of twos and threes. We walk, tell jokes, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the natural setting.

Prairie marsh near the Yahara River Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

This past weekend we went to Cherokee Marsh. In the last century Madison has lost one square mile of marsh, due to development and higher lake levels to appease boaters. Lower water quality, algae blooms and flooding are a few of the results.

Wetland plants and Cattails Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Mushrooms; although I’d wait for the expert forager to eat one first, as my friend wisely says.

Puff Mushrooms Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Recently I’d read the Spirits of the Earth: An Effigy Mound Landscape by Robert Birmingham. I have become fascinated with the history of Native effigy mounds, and troubled by how many were destroyed by European immigrants through farming and building the city of Madison. I’ve begun to look, and find them in many parks. I appreciate that this important history is preserved.

Save the Mounds Sign Photo: Rebecca Cuningham, Sign by the Ho-Chunk People and Madison Parks

An effigy mound made by the ancestors of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Effigy Mound Cherokee Marsh Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

After paying our respects, we continued to explore the park.

Over the Hill Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

The weather was brisk, cold enough for this small pond to freeze.

Frozen Pond Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Heavenly rays of sun were peeking out from the clouds.

Gray Skies with Light Bursts Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

The light would change every five minutes…

Folding Clouds, Shining Rays Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Nature’s light shows are the best.

Cloud and Light Show Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Thank you to the organizers and thank you for reading! Happy hiking. ¡Olé! –Rebecca

P.S. Turn your poems in Sunday for December’s Poetry Challenge. We’d love to read your work. Click on Poetry Challenge for details. ¡Gracias! -r

Rebecca Cuningham

22 thoughts on “Saturday Hike at Cherokee Marsh

  1. Yes, those dark clouds and sun beams streaming in offer a dramatic view! You definitely don’t need to watch TV to appreciate natural shows like these! Sounds like a pleasant, albeit freezing walk!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These photos are beautiful. “Spirits of the Earth” would be so interesting to me. I did not know of effigy mounds. Thank you for teaching me. I wonder how many mounds are scaled as people know not that they are not nature-made.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dawn Renee. I highly recommend the book. Very insightful comment you make about people not realizing the mounds are human made. I have seen more natural plantings on mounds in parks and signs nearby to prevent people walking through, which is a wise way to protect the sacred sites.

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      1. The effigy mounds are mostly in Wisconsin. The ancestors of the Ho-Chunk Nation created them. We have the largest number of mounds in the world. There is a movement to get them recognized as a world heritage sites.

        Liked by 1 person

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