Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Mystery of L Hill

I’m a huge fan of Southern Indiana. I spend a lot of my free time hiking and biking the area. I also love Google Maps and Google Earth. As I was planning a hike last week I came across something on Google Maps’ satellite view that piqued my curiosity.

There is a hill on the far northeastern edge of Lake Monroe that has a massive letter L somehow etched into the hill. The L is so large that when viewing it on Google Earth you can clearly see it from 12 miles up.

Below a satellite view of what I’ll call L Hill. Note the L center left in the image.
Since I was going to be in the area hiking anyway, I figured I had to hike up L Hill and find out just how the L was formed on the top of the densely wooded hill and if I could tell why it was there.

I’d seen letters etched into hillsides before. I remember when I was in Reno once there was a college that had its initials carved into the side of a large hill, so I thought maybe there was a reason there was a giant L on this otherwise anonymous hill in the Hoosier National Forest. Maybe someone planned on spelling out “Lake Monroe” on the surrounding hillside and ran out of energy after the first letter. Who knows?

To getting the L Hill take Hwy. 46 East out of Bloomington. Go about eight miles to T.C. Steele Rd. and turn south. Follow the road about five miles down to a public access boat ramp where you can park. You basically want to hike straight north out of the parking lot onto and up the hill. The bottom of the L is only about 150 yards up from the road.

From the ground -  this is the clearing in the woods that forms a perfect L
when looked at from a satellite view.
What I found was an L-shaped clearing in the middle of a deeply wooded area. I walked around looking for clues. This was early October and the wild grass was knee to chest high. There were a few small saplings growing indie the clearing, but it was mainly grass, and various brush (including ample patches of sticker bushes).

I took a few photos of the clearing that was about 200 yards long. The best I could tell was this had been a small family farm field that continued to be used up until a few years ago. The L-shaped clearing, if left alone, will eventually become forested like the rest of the hill.

I hiked up the ridge and came across two more abandoned farm fields on the hill that pretty much confirmed what the giant L had once been.

It turned out the L Hill wasn’t all that mysterious after all, but it made for a fun hike.

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