Back Roads

I complained a few months ago about the lack of wooded areas to hike in and explore on the prairie, grousing over the rarity of stands of trees. While this is technically true, it is, perhaps, an unfair characterization.

In our immediate area the land is relatively flat and open, to be sure. Still, one doesn't have to travel far to get some geographic variation. A few miles away is an area historically referred to collectively as "the groves" and, as the name implies, these areas are considerably more woodsy today, as they were back when they'd first attained that name.

To be clear, there were several groves, one of which was Melugin Grove, where I found the cemetery containing Joel Compton's grave. This article discusses, among other things, how the groves were an attractive site for early settlers, offering wood for building and fuel, and what was undoubtedly an abundance of wildlife for hunting.

While the land is almost certainly different than it was back then - a fair amount of it is cultivated for agriculture - the features of the area still leave it feeling more wild than the flatter land a few miles away. In parts this is almost certainly because the area is marshy and challenging to work with.

Most of the property is private, which in and of itself continues the complaint that I made back in late winter. However, public roads run through them, which makes them accessible by foot, by car, or by bike, which is my preference. Head out on these lightly traveled back roads, and within a fairly short distance things start to seem very remote indeed:

Out in the Woods

For better or worse these areas didn't become the long-term thriving communities that the early pioneers perhaps pictured. As such, many of the roads are still gravel, and several are single-track passageways that are barely wide enough for a single car to travel. It offers a very nice opportunity to get back to nature, and a bonus, lets one feel a little of what it must have been like to travel through this land back in those pioneer days.