Saturday, January 21, 2017 –Nauvoo Trek Experience, River Highway, Bald Eagle Appreciation Day
Today is P-day (preparation day) and I was on my way to bring the trash barrel in from the street when I saw a woodpecker. I love to try and get close enough to get a good picture of wildlife, but while getting close to the woodpecker I noticed a sign about 50 yards away in the woods. I hadn’t seen it before and I didn’t know what it was for. Using my telephoto lens like binoculars I zoomed in on the sign and discovered it is a trail marker for the Pioneer Handcart Trek experience that is offered by the mission. When we moved into this house 4 months ago we were told the woods by our house were part of the handcart trail.
The Nauvoo Mission offers a “handcart Experience” to families, groups of families, family reunions, Scouts, Wards and Stakes. The group can choose the length of handcart treks from one mile, two miles or three miles. All treks are completed on the same day. The mission’s handcart route is not all easy, it includes some very rugged terrain, up and down steep hills and it has 8 water crossings. The group can choose how much weight the cart will be loaded with. A handcart family can have from one hundred to five hundred pounds of sand bags added but usually carts weighing over 200 pounds are discouraged.
We did our shopping today. As we drove south on the river road to Keokuk, IA we were treated to a grand experience. There were Bald Eagles everywhere! At every turn we discovered more Bald Eagles in the trees, on the ice and flying by. Every chance, we pulled over and took pictures. Sis. Johnson remarked that it was going to take us an hour to get to the grocery store. It was a beautiful drive and a lot of fun. We must have seen thirty to forty Eagles.
It is no coincidence that the town of Keokuk schedules their “Bald Eagle Appreciation Day” for this weekend. This is the height of the eagle season for this stretch of the Mississippi River between Keokuk and Nauvoo.
The Bald Eagles visit this area from November to March. As the Eagles’ primary feeding areas in Canada and Alaska begin to freeze over, the birds fly south along rivers to find fish in the open water of unfrozen rivers and lakes. As many as 1,400 Bald Eagles winter along the Mississippi between St. Paul, MN and St. Louis, MO. Keokuk enjoys one of the highest concentrations of the feeding eagle in and around the open waters of Lock and Dam 19. Because the moving water drops from above to below the dam, the river water remains unfrozen and provide the eagles their primary food source – fish. Sis. Johnson and I never tire of seeing Bald Eagles by the river.