Finally got the opportunity to take the whole family up Monadnock on our summer vacation. The mountain I love and where I proposed to my bride on is now apart of our family memories. So proud of our girls and family for making it up and down. Grace and Gabby are great little mountain climbers. If are in New Hampshire you have to check this mountain out.
Bell Smith Springs, located in Southern Illinois is one of the states recreational gems. We had a chance to visit the area and camp at the USDA Red Bud campground. A great group of sites, with water and port-a-jons for just $10.00 a night. A multitude of beautiful sights are within a short hike from the campground and even more are within reach with a short car ride as the part is in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest.
We used out new REI Kingdome 8 and she performed as expected. The biggest surprise was how well the zippers held up against Grace (7) and Gabby (5) constant use and inexperience with tent zippers. But, they never snagged and always worked like butter!
If you looking for a nice peaceful get away and an opportunity to play in the cool waters, pools and feel like you are not in Illinois anymore this is the place.
Click here to check out the pics for Bell Smith Springs.
This is a section I discovered last year while visiting the area for work. Not only do you get the chance to cross a state line into PA but also get a chance to view a beautiful vista looking into the state as well. Washington County Park is a great place to relax, use the facilities and get a cold drink prior to heading into PA. I was fortunate to meet multiple thru-hikers heading north and chatted for a bit with "Bearfoot" about his hike. Great guy and best wishes to him on his continued trek.
Thanks to my friends at the Sangamon Valley Chapter of the Sierra Club for hosting their Annual Stone Soup Hike! It's always a easy way to start the year off on the right foot. LITERALLY! Even though the temp never got above 20 degrees this morning the wind stayed away and the sun was shining! We hiked for about forty-five minutes through the untouched snow and got an early morning peek at the Sangamon River. I am happy to report this morning that the river looks healthy and is flowing nicely (thanks to recent rains and snow). The last year has not been kind to the river nor my paddling opportunities. Hopefully the rain and snow will help keep the river up and navigable in early spring.
Oh and can't forget the soup! Nothing like a warm bowl of community made soup to help warm your stomach and your soul after a nice hike and on a cold winter day.
Also finally got to use a gift from last Christmas the wife got me but I never go use last winter due to the mild conditions and it was the perfect day to utilize it. My set of Kathoola MICROspikes worked awesome and dug into the solid ice along the roadways and that covered portions of the trail. The metal teeth on the bottom of the MICROspikes kept me on the trail as we approached some slick areas above the river. I also felt that my feet were kept warmed by having the MICROspikes on, maybe because my feet actually were coming in contact with the cold wet ground as they if I didn't have them on. Hadn't thought about this as an added benefit of the system, but on a cold day we all know there is nothing worse then cold feet and toes. I had on good socks and liners today, but felt that staying off the ground even by a fraction or a inch might have helped keep them warm.
I hope every is enjoying you day and that you get out to enjoy today like I did as well.
Keep Hiking Forward.
Its a new year and so I have been toying around with the thought of starting a new blog and actually sticking with it. So, with the arrival of some calming snow this morning, awesome coffee in my mug and the Dropkick Murphy's in my headphones... here we go!
Not only did I decide to take a serious crack at maintaining a blog, I even switched platforms from wordpress to weebly. Hey they both start with "W"! I decided I needed a switch after recently reading a few hiking related blogs who use Weebly and I must say it is super easy! Hopefully this will make things easier for me to stay committed to updating the blog.
Okay, so we got that outta the way. Now what? Well the main pages are nearing completion and I have a lot of near gear that I am about to purchase thanks to my family for all the REI giftcards as well as the new gear that was purchased for Grace (7) and Gabby (4) for Christmas. Some how they got new sleeping bags, backpacks and headlamps and dear ole dad didn't get any actual gear yet! Even Mom get a new Columbia Omni-Heat Puffer and North Face Gloves! Hmmm. Well as you can imagine gear reviews till be coming on all of that stuff as soon as we test it all out.
This year I will hopefully be out and about more with the girls and the wife exploring the great outdoors and passing my Eagle Scout skills (don't laugh!) down to my lil ladies as well as living vicariously through some buds who will be hiking the AT this year. Will be posting funny stories, pics and whatever else they get into as the get into it along the hike north to Katahdin.
Here's to a fantastic and healthy new year to all of you! Enjoy your night and be safe out there!
Keep Hiking Forward!
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