Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jackson Falls

Again from my friend, Mel, this trail report about some time he spent at Jackson Falls in mid March. We won't hold it against him that he wasn't carrying a pack and had the horse to do the walking..... :-)

Mel is a great friend to hikers in the Shawnee. He showed up unexpectedly early one morning at Trigg Tower in a steady rain to be sure our group had his phone number in case we needed help during our hike. Nice....


While the river to river trail in the Shawnee national forest is a 200 mile challenging visually diverse experience, many spectacular sights await you slightly off the designated r to r trail. One example is Jackson falls. Whether you climb, hike, or ride it on a horse like I usually do, Jackson falls never ceases to be impressive, interesting and constantly changing. We rode the falls area and beyond on March 13 with a threatening cloudy sky. We prepared for rain but were not disappointed by the lack thereof. We visited with climbers at spleef reef and then enjoyed lunch at the waterfall itself. We stopped at a rock that is photogenic place for horses on our way to railroad rock. The trail through Jackson falls always fills me with awe and gives me a good feeling on the inside. The ride allows me to enjoy my friends and appreciate my horse. Mel


Indian Kitchen in the Spring

My friend Mel sent this photo back in early March of Indian Kitchen, which is in the Lusk Creek Wilderness a couple of miles south of the River To River Trail. Thanks, Mel.

Post Offices Along the River To River Trail

I've had several inquiries lately about whether there are post offices close enough to the trail to use for resupply. Yes, there are three that are virtually on the trail and one that is about a half mile from the trail. So I hope this helps those of you planning longer hikes and want to use the postal system for resupply.

I spoke with a couple of the postmasters of these post offices and they tell me that all you have to do is mark your package for "General Delivery" and they will hold it for you. Be sure to have an ID with you when you pick it up. Also be sure to check the hours of operation ahead of time. Some are not open for an hour during the middle of the day on weekdays and Saturday hours are very limited.

From East to west:

100 Highway 34 S, Herod, IL‎
(618) 264-5172
R2R trail goes right by this post office

110 Main Street, Eddyville, IL
(618) 672-4711
R2R trail goes right in front of this post office

117 South Broadway, Goreville, IL‎
(618) 995-2642‎
at the trailhead at the north border of Ferne Clyffe State Park one can see the outskirts of Goreville to the east - the post office is about a half mile from this spot

709 Makanda Road, Makanda, IL‎
(618) 457-5348
this post office is just across the railroad tracks from the Makanda boardwalk, adjacent to the entrance to Giant City State Park - you can see it from the trail

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Carey's River To River Hike Video is In

James Carey of Ohio along with his wife, brother and his brother's son hiked the western- most 40 miles of the River To River Trail in June of 2009. Here is the video of their experience. What a fortunate young man to be taken along on such an adventure. I hope you enjoy the video.

James, thanks for sharing this. I hope it inspires more people to hike the trail and share their experiences on this blog or elsewhere.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

REI St. Louis Presentation on the River To River Trail Scheduled for February

REI St. Louis has invited me again this year to give a presentation on the Southern Illinois River To River Trail. Last year about 50 people attended, showed alot of interest and had alot of great questions. I hope you can make it.

Thursday February 25th 6:30 PM at REI St.Louis

For more details click here...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Return to Clear Springs / Bald Knob Wilderness

I had been wanting to get back into the Clear Springs / Bald Knob Wilderness areas again since Todd and I had so much trouble navigating there in September. I had four purposes:

1. I wanted to understand where I went wrong with my navigating

2. I wanted to get to know that part of the R2R trail better

3. I wanted to get more pictures of the awesome destruction caused by the 100 mph sideways winds that hit there early in the year - we were so focused on trying to get unlost that I took very few pictures in September

4. I wanted to make a contribution to the effort to clear the trail

Riley and I arrived near the Clear Springs Wilderness trailhead early Friday morning November 6 to find that about a mile from the trailhead the road was flooded.

I started preparing some hot breakfast and while my water was heating explored the land between the cliff face and the flood and found that there was a trail that would get me through. So after breakfast I got my pack ready to hike. I packed along an axe and two hand saws. I also took about a gallon and a half of water. I didn't know whether I would get to Hutchins Creek on this hike which is the only source of water in this area that I would count on.

Much to my surprise a little way into the woods I discovered that the trail had been cleared since Todd and I were there. The first few hundred yards took us about an hour in September. Here is how this looks today.

A little further down the trail I was able to identify the turn where I had led us astray in September. What exactly happened is a long story and much too embarrassing to share here in front of the whole world. Let's say I need to take more time when transferring GPS data into my machine and check it carefully against the trail guide before I head into the woods in the future.

About an hour into the hike we came upon this blow down and I went to work on clearing it. Riley supervised.



This took me about two and a half hours to clear using the axe and saws. Strangely this would be the only place I would find still needing to be cleared. I guess they left it for me. My blistered hands were grateful.

We stayed overnight about a half mile west of Hutchins Creek. It's tough to find level ground for a campsite anywhere in this area and this spot wasn't especially level but it worked out. I discovered I had forgotten my headlamp so it was a very early dinner about 5:00 PM and into the bag at 6:00 PM as it was getting dark. I was tired and slept long and well.

Saturday morning, about 45 minutes down the trail we got to Hutchins Creek. This is easily the most water I have seen here in my probably five or more crossings. Hutchins Creek is the border separating the Clear Springs Wilderness to the west from the Bald Knob Wilderness to the east and is situated just about in the middle of the combined area.

The weather was awesome. The tree colors were spectacular. I was thoroughly enjoying being in the woods. I had plenty of time and wanted a good workout, so I decided to cross and just keep going East with the goal of hiking to Bald Knob Road, where there is a trailhead for those entering the Bald Knob Wilderness going westbound.

Then I would simply turn around and hike back through both Wilderness areas. This may be the very first out and back hike I have taken on the R2R. Every other time I can think of we've shuttled vehicles and hiked only one direction. Had I known I would find such a clear trail, I might have planned a different hike.

Nevertheless, this was alot of fun. And Riley was having a great time. He was full of energy this morning and would race past me periodically speeding along the trail and then go off to the side into the woods and explore until I caught up.

Here are some more shots of the destruction Riley and I passed.

It's a little hard to make out in the photo below, but the three blobs in the background are three large uprooted trees in a row on their sides.

Just as I arrived back at the place I had cleared the day before, a group of backpackers hiking east into the Clear Springs Wilderness met me. A young girl proudly informed me that there were 16 altogether in the group comprised of three families. Their ages appeared to range from seven or eight years to early teens. One young tadpole was carrying a pack almost as big as him. There were three dads, but strangely no mothers. Hmmm. What could that be about? If you are reading this and it sounds like the hike you were on this weekend, please send me your story and photos and I will post it to the blog.

I asked the lead teenager to take a picture of me proudly sporting my axe next to the work it had done. I would eventually pack the axe about seventeen miles altogether. Mission accomplished.
For more photos of this hike, click here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall 2009 Trigg Tower to High Knob Hike

Thursday October 8

Seven hikers from St. Louis arrived at Trigg Tower about 9 PM where I was waiting for them in a steady rain. We shuttled two vehicles to High Knob to be there when we would arrive on Sunday getting back to Trigg Tower about midnight.

Friday October 9

We departed Trigg Tower about 9 AM in a steady rain. Rain was to continue all day as we hiked east. Here we are stopping in the Tin Whistle Tunnel for a short break.

We couldn't find anyplace out of the rain for lunch so here we stood and ate while it continued to rain on us.

About 5 PM we made Circle B Ranch where we decided to stay for the night. Denny and Connie Maxon, the proprietors, were great to us, letting us stay inside their community building and run the wood stove where we dried out.

Saturday October 10

We got away from Circle B about 8 AM after enlisting one of the campers to take a group shot of us.

From Circle B Ranch we headed into the Lusk Creek Wilderness. Crossing Lusk Creek at Old Guest Farm crossing required us to remove our boots and carry them.

After visiting Salt Peter Cave briefly we took a lunch break at Secret Canyon.

We continued on to Herod and then stopped for the night on a high bluff with a nice view toward Garden of the Gods.

Sunday October 11

The sign said Garden of the Gods one way. The River to River Trail went another direction. We had little choice other than to use a round of bear, ninja, cowboy to determine which way to go. (ie. a variation on rock paper scissors - bear kills ninja, ninja kills cowboy and cowboy kills bear). Here Jeff slays Todd's bear choice with his six- shooters.

Sunday morning we spent quite a while at Garden of the Gods.

Check back for more details about this hike.

For more of my photos of this hike click here.

For some of Josh Heater's photos of this hike click here