8.21.2009

Hiking in Illinois

I've been meaning more intently to research hiking. I've taken up something close to it since Benny's come into our world. Significant other unit refuses to take these sorts of walks, and the couple of times he's come along has been vocal about the difficulty of walking on such terrain *sigh*

So what is there to hiking? Are there any guides? What about trail guides or guides to hiking in Illinois? What about a guide to local flora and fauna? Could I find hidden edibles in the area while hiking? Hmmm all these questions set me thinking and searching.

So my search produced a number of interesting resources, though I'm still not satisfied with what I've found.

A "Hiking Website" tells you what there is to hiking and what to look for when starting it up. Here you learn that hiking's about being conscious of 1) your body, and 2) your surroundings. Make sure you don't go beyond your limits, and that you're always aware what situation you're in (yes that means no texting while hiking!). So what goes with these two main elements to hiking? Well you should always hike with someone, make sure you have the appropriate gear (#1 is appropriate footgear and apparel), make sure you ask questions, and above all watch and learn. Be a walking sponge. And whatever you do, don't go to the grand canyon and climb dangerous rocks thousands of feet above sea level in wedgey/platformy slipons like I did Dec 31 last year. Scary. Then again, the adrenaline rush was thoroughly enjoyable ^_^ I live for stuff like that ;)

Then there's Gorp.Away.com which is an awesome links resource for all hiking related stuff, like
what to look for in hiking gear. The Get Started link is quite useful, in a "make a list, plan, then hit the road" kinda way. I also liked their Illinois hiking guide.

So what's the resources arena like for Illinois in particular? Any forest preserves or other govt-type agencies educating people out there? Eh...not so much apparently.

I first searched the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website and didn't find much, with the exception of a list of trails in my particular area (there's different pages for different areas within Illinois). Eh. Maybe I'll take a look if I ever want to venture out of my back yard. There's lots to do right here for now.

The DuPage and Kane counties forest preserve websites are interesting too. DuPage has had more resources it seems, and their websites are uber friendly to use. Their recreation section has a page personalized to hiking interests, including maps and other info of particular areas of interest. I actually found Kane County Forest Preserve's Twitter account to be FAR better than its website. Its Facebook page isn't that bad either.

I'll keep checking this and Enjoyillinois.com out. I have had on my to-do list Starved Rock State Park for what seems forever. I was almost interested in going to the Mississippi Palisades a long time ago, but any interest never quite materialized.

I'll keep checking all these resources out to broaden my knowledge and maybe, one day, take a peek at some of these cool hiking trails and places. But for now, I enjoy my 45min-1hr long hikes with Benny the Baying Hound. We have our very own favorite places and our own way of communicating silently with each other, as we explore together.

Happy trails y'all ;)