Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shawnee National Forest

Today was about the best it could have been. I left Peoria by 7:30 but had to make a Kroger stop, get some cash, fill up with gas and get a donut from my favorite East Peoria donut shop (Carl's). I was on the road by 8 which would put me at the ranger station by 12:30. I made it by 1, which I was happy with given the road construction and bathroom break. 

The park office was super helpful, gave me good info and maps and a plan for a couple days exploring. Since it was already afternoon I went to Rim Rock that has some outlook points but also has a trail to nearby Pounds Hollow - which has a lake. 
It was at least on hour before I got to the lake but there was practically no one there. I changed into my suit and went for a dip. The water was warm and clear. There was one little fishy that swam around me but otherwise pretty quiet. Very nice as lakes go. 

I hiked back to the car and headed to Garden of the Gods which was where I planned to sleep. It was about 5:30/6 at this point. The quarter mile trail with outlooks was amazing. Only downside was the annoying teenage girls there :). I was nice (by keeping my comments to myself). It is really crazy how this is still Illinois. My iphone pics won't do it justice but I took some with the nice camera and maybe I can add those later. 
Trail pic
Garden of the Gods #failedselfie

There is a backpacker parking lot for hikers where they can go on a trail and do dispersed camping, which I understand to be just camp near the trail where you find a spot and it's free! My backpack was stuffed and I'm glad I met no one on the trail because I'm sure they would have laughed. And I definitely need to practice more hiking with a pack. I didn't get very far, found a nice view and set up camp. 

The sunset was very pretty, leaving pink and purple streaks in the sky that I never could have caught with my camera. Now it is bedtime and very noisy with what I assume to be insects maybe birds or frogs. I really have no idea. :)  At the last minute I put my food garbage and summer sausage outside the tent. In case someone comes foraging I'd rather they forage outside than inside my tent. I last checked and it was 66 degrees here. Should be a great night. Today's high was like 75. Can't imagine how different it would have been if it was in the 90s like usual in July. 


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