2019 #hike12 & hike#13 - Illinois State Parks

Hike 12 - Illinois Park Project

Date: Friday, April 19, 2019

Location: Fox Ridge State Park - Charleston, IL

Distance: 8.5+ miles

Trails: Most trails and roadways throughout main areas

Miles from Home: 774

Weather: Cold, windy, cloudy, moist

Equipment: iPhone, Apple Watch, Olympus TG-5, gloves, trash bags, etc.

This hike was a dream. The weather was shit, the drive was long, but the people and cleanup were the shining stars. We cleaned up over 20 pounds of trash, with 18.5 of it on the first half of the day. We had a group just shy of 10 and it was so fun to stomp around together in pursuit of a better place. This event was put on by my good friend Jen at Illinois Park Project. Go check them out! It was in held in partnership with the 11th Essential, a group dedicated to publicizing and normalzing stewardship in every day life. I wrote all about them HERE, so go check it out to learn more about the good stuff going down with all of them.

The second half, call it hike 12b, was about half the group and was more throughout the inner trails of the park. It was nice to connect even further, after the main event!

Hike 13

Date: Saturday, April 20, 2019

Location: Ferne Clyffe State Park - Goreville, IL

Distance: 2.2 miles

Trails: Rebman, Hawk’s Cave, Big Rocky Hollow

Miles from Home: 668

Weather: Cool, sunny, windy, warm

Equipment: iPhone, Apple Watch

I was 34 years old when I learned that Illinois has beautiful, natural places. I was on my way back to Texas from the group cleanup and wanted to stretch my feet and get another hike before the weekend was over. I saw this place on the map, felt intrigued, and decided to stop. I’m so glad I did. WHAT A GEM. The waterfalls were gorgeous, the rocky bluffs were intense, and the general terrain was just so lovely. I had read about this place before, and forgot about it, so it was all dumb luck.

#hike29 - Olympic National Park

Date: October 20, 2018

Location: Olympic National Park - Quinault

Distance:  5 miles

Trails: Enchanted Valley Route (to Pony Bridge & back)

I finally did it - I went back outside. I know, it’s been a while, but I’ll blame the weather in Texas. Really, it was a combination of feeling uninspired and the weather, but that’s a topic for another day.

I decided an autumn trip to the great state of Washington was necessary to compare to my spring adventures. I went back to the Quinault region and hiked to Pony Bridge. When I last visited the Quinault region, it was rainy, windy, and cold. This time, it was sunny, cool, and windy out in the open spots.

The hike started with the drive from Olympia, WA to the Graves Creek Campground/Trailhead. I started early, in the dark and fog, and go to the Quinault turn off as the sun started to illuminate the low hanging clouds.

The road beyond Lake Quinault goes through the valley where there are private residences and then follows the river. You take a turn off onto a gravel road and go about six miles along the river to the trailhead. The road winds through big trees, over various creeks, and is bumpy yet fun to experience.

I had planned for somewhat warm weather, ignoring the morning and night temps. I showed up to the trailhead in shorts and a hoodie, thinking I’d be fine. I was fine, but it was definitely chilly. It was somewhat dim yet, even being 8:40am. I was on a time crunch with this hike because my priority for the day was getting back to the suburbs and meeting a friend who was going to show me Mount Rainier National Park. I set off at a more rapid than usual pace for me, up the gradual elevation gain for the first two miles. It is a gorgeous, tree lined trail with all the lush rain forest vibes and hints of bright yellow autumn moments.

My quick pace took me up to the point of decent to the river and bridge in no time at all. I had time to slow down and enjoy the area around Pony Bridge and could take it easy walking back to the car. It started to get lighter as the morning went on and by the time I was making my way back through the forest the sun was illuminating everything. Sunshine poured in every crack of the canopy, making it feel like a completely different trail than earlier.

I noticed mushrooms and plants as well as heard the birds chirping. It was a completely different hike out than in. I love that the same trail can be so different the second you turn around and see it a different way.

Olympic National Park & National Forest areas are some of my favorite places that I’ve seen in life. Hike 29 along a river, between the mountains, and under the trees was everything I could have wanted out of a hike.

#hike13 - Olympic National Park (the coast)

Date: March 31, 2018

Location: Olympic National Park - Washington

Distance: 9.3

Trails: Ozette Loop

I woke up as the morning became light, decided it was time, and made my way to the Ozette Ranger Station to park and get acquainted with the trail and area.  It was about 7:21 and I wanted to be done before noon, as I had planned to check out of my cabin by then.  Four-plus hours was plenty of time to complete 9 miles, even at a slow pace, but I was off in a hurry.  After about a half mile, I consciously calmed myself down and went a normal pace so I could enjoy all of the lush greenery and skunk cabbage blooms.  The Ozette Triangle, or Ozette Loop, is really two trails and a beach hike.  The two trails to/from the beach go through coastal forests, random clearings, swamps, and crosses creeks.  The paths are either soil in boxes, boardwalks, or dirt.  Elevation gain is minimal, until the end, but here are stairs and a rope for any necessary assistance making it acceptable for all types of hikers.

I remember stopping when I heard the first sign of waves - the ocean was near.  The air changed, my pace changed, I was smiling uncontrollably, and I was finally to the beach.  As I got closer, the beach smelled less fresh and more fishy, but what can you do?  Walking the beach from trail to trail had some obstacles such as large fallen trees, rocks, and tide pools.  I ran into a group of hikers who didn't have a map so we looked at mine and made friendly chatter.  It's nice to run into people with the same idea as you, wandering down the beach in search of the next trail.  I eventually left them in the dust, hike your own hike, but I did enjoy their company for a little while.

This hike was secluded enough and offered the most variety as far as terrain and plants of any over my weekend in the Olympic.  I hope you find your path and happy trails!