Beanblossom Bottoms Sierra Club hike; Bottomland forest and lenticular clouds

Surrounded by the lush environs of the Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve, I expected any revelations or insights from Saturday's hike with a group of Indianapolis Sierrans to come from the marshy flatlands off the 2.5-mile boardwalk or the forest canopy. The Sycamore Land Trust property is, after all, bottomland forest. And it is late spring.

Given the amount of time I spend exploring nature's nuance, group hikes are opportunities for me to talk to other nature lovers, particularly if I'm not the leader and don't have to keep everyone from getting lost. And aside from shooting a blue flag iris alongside one of the trail's many bridges, that's pretty much what I did Saturday morning -- talk wth and focus on images of the hike's 21 guests for the summer Indiana Sierran newsletter I'm wrapping up this week.

If indeed a magic moment were to occur in the sky, I expected it would be a bald eagle or two soaring overhead, given that the last stop was the preserve's observation deck that overlooks an eagle's nest. Clouds are cool but not often revelatory. But I have to say a lenticular cloud sighting captured the day's magic-moment award.

Lenticular cloud formations are stationary and materialize in the upper atmosphere, usually in mountainous areas, where they form on the peaks' downwind sides. They're named for their shape, which, a knowledgeable Sierran told me, is derived from the Latin term for lentil, again because of the shape. (Seems an essential detail for a photographer to possess.)

Also due to their shape, lenticular clouds are often mistaken for UFOs -- or as visual cover for them.

Beanblossom Bottoms is a 750-acre preserve located northwest of Bloomington. It's primarily bottomland forest with diverse ownership -- 596 acres owned by Sycamore, 78 by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the rest owned privately but managed by Sycamore as part of the preserve.

A dedicated state nature preserve occupies 336 acres of the property. Its natural features include bottomland forest, sedge meadows, shrubby wetlands and successional fields.

Saturday's hike was organized by the Heartlands Group Sierra Club in Indianapolis. Here's a Photo Album.

Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve Photographs: Top, blue flag iris; Left, Indiana Sierrans; Bottom, lenticuilar cloud formation


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