Back home again in the Hoosier National Forest - McPike Pond, Kings Ridge

The first three weeks of 2018 – especially the three days spent with zoom lenses and hand warmers in the Hoosier National Forest – have been tantamount to a homecoming, an icy outdoor celebration of sorts.

Since IU Press now has all the permissions needed to publish A Guide to Natural Areas of Northern Indiana, the guidebook is out of hand. Included were much-appreciated consents from ACRES Land Trust Executive Director Jason Kissel to publish the foreword he penned and from photographer friend Jaime Sweany to use her author photo on the jacket again.

Since New Year’s Day, the Natural Bloomington compass has reassumed its homier, southerly inclination, marked by subfreezing photo explorations of the Hoosier’s Elkinsville/Middle Fork Salt Creek area in southern Brown County, the Charles C. Deam Wilderness and McPike Pond areas in northeast Lawrence County and the Kings Ridge area in southwest Lawrence.

The single-digit Elkinsville/Middle Fork trip was detailed in the Jan. 6 blog post Elkinsville: the ‘town that was’ in the ‘shadow of Browning Mountain' and Photo Album.

The 13,000-acre Deam, Indiana’s only federally protected wilderness, stretches from Monroe Lake south to the Lawrence County line, where the Tanyard Branch meets Hunter Creek below Cope Hollow.

McPike Pondan obscure little waterhole about a mile south of the Deam and due west of the Hickory Ridge Horsecamp, is shaped like a squat, flattened Y. It rests on a ridgetop nearly 300 feet above the McPike Branch, a trickling stream that meets the Little Salt Creek three miles to the southeast. From there it's on to the Salt Creek beneath the Monroe Lake Dam and, eventually, the Gulf of Mexico.

Kings Ridge is an isolated tract of the Hoosier southeast of Bedford near the Martin County Line in the East Fork White River Watershed. The densely wooded tract of national forestland, which sprawls about three miles north of U.S. 50 and includes the one-acre Tincher Lake fishing pond, rises nearly 300 feet above the valley.

A fenced, pioneer cemetery just off Kings Ridge Road features three unmarked stones -- permanent homes to some of the region's first settlers.

As oft noted in this distant corner of cyberspace, this return to the Hoosier is a return to the Natural Bloomington homebase, where the journey began more than four decades ago. Next leg: Tincher Hollow and Beaver Creek, which lie southeast and south of Kings Ridge.

Hoosier National Forest photographs: Top, Kings Ridge; Center, McPike Pond; Bottom, Charles C. Deam Wilderness.


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