Headed out on a Monday to visit another forest preserve in suburban Chicago, thought I'd share a few snapshots and observations from my short trip. This preserve's biggest draw is the equestrian and biking trails, but there is a nature habitat reserved for hiking.
I was fortunate to have clear, sunny weather and the trails to myself, as most people were at work. Temperatures, however, were less than ideal, mid-90s with humidity that pushed the heat index to about 99-degrees, and wind gusts of about 20 mph.
Sorta felt like southern Iraq at midnight in April.
I only hiked the eastern portion of this preserve, where most of the trails are well-paved with gravel.
Watch your step, as I mentioned, the main trails here are used by horseback riders, creates a nice, country aroma.
Reached this prairie with rolling terrain after hiking about a half mile, decided to check out that hill in the distance.
Did a lap around the hill until I found a footpath to the top. Notice the trees leaning from the breeze.
The hill overlooks a lake for catch-and-release fishing with a view of one of a few local horse farms. Thought I might have lunch at the top, but the wind and sun made me decide to search for better options within the woods.
Unfortunately, there's almost always usable trash laying about.
Wandered at bit until I reached one of the entrances to the nature habitat and went searching for the shade.
Had some decent scenery, still sunny and windy as heck.
Found a spot to stop for lunch. Like I said, it was muggy and sunny, enough that I was compelled to dig in my pack for my boonie cap, my lone piece of ACU clothing. Humped my standard day hike kit, added water weight increased the load to about 24 lbs.
However, it is never, ever, ever, too hot for coffee.
Lunch was a corned-beef croissant. While eating I began to hear lots of groaning and crashing among the trees.
Big mistake: Realized I'd stopped on widow-maker boulevard. Second mistake was not popping smoke and moving to a better locale. Instead, I continued eating, albeit with my head on a swivel.
Discovered another potentially fatal error while returning from using the wood line before moving out. This large hole was in the log I used as a seat. I'd kicked it before sitting down, didn't do a 360 sweep--could've had a nasty surprise visitor.
Meandered a while longer, came upon several forks in the trail. Even though civilization is never more than a few miles in any direction, I highly recommend taking and using a trail map.
Took another break and stock of the situation. I'd planned to make new tarp tie-offs for my USGI poncho, maybe braid a ridge line, but the increasing wind and swaying trees made me decide to go back to the main trail. I also didn't want to arrive at my car with empty canteens.
A good outing, overall, covered about three miles in two hours, saw places I hadn't seen before. Also a decent lesson on being mindful of one's surroundings. I like to joke that I have enough skills and experience to venture into the wilderness and get myself killed.
Hope you enjoyed the post. Thanks for viewing.