Fimmvorduhals Hike, 7/24/2018

Wow. This is the least Chrissy and myself could say after finishing the Fimmvorduhals Trek in southern Iceland. This 15.5 mile hike takes you from sea level, essentially, up to about 3,400 ft above sea level, then drops you back 2,700 feet or so into a lush valley. I just want to leave you with a collection of photographs, and then a bit about logistics.

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Kayaking North Vermillion River, 5/19/18 ✶✶✶ ✶

Hopalong Casssidy River Trail to Red White and Blue Bridge (Illinois Rte. 57) May 19, 2018 Gradient: ~4.3 feet per mile Gages: 05555300, Vermillion R. near Leonore; 475 cfs, 4.56 feet deep 05554500, near Pontiac, 160 cfs, 3.47 feet deep Recommended levels: I would likely not paddle this any shallower. I scraped bottom three times, and it took some water-reading skills to not scrape more. Put-in: Hopalong Cassidy River Trail, a really attractive and well-maintained gravel parking lot just west of the river and north of County Route 18. Coordinates are: 41°07’15.9″N 88°50’27.2″W Take-out: I had to modify my take-out plans. … Continue reading Kayaking North Vermillion River, 5/19/18 ✶✶✶ ✶

Kayaking DuPage River Main Branch 5/8/2018

    Put-in: Private residence near 95th/Kings Rd Take out: Riverview Farmstead Preserve, Will County Forest Preserve Time: 1h40m Gage: 05540130 110 cfs, 4.75 ft ; 05540290 200 cfs, 7.4 ft Feeling stuck between two 6 day workweeks (for myself), Chrissy and I decided to go for a short getaway on the main branch of the DuPage River. We dipped in right behind a friend’s house just near the confluence of the East and West Branch at about 5:50. Getting setup and running a shuttle always takes so much longer than I want it to!  But, alas, with getting set being the … Continue reading Kayaking DuPage River Main Branch 5/8/2018

Hiking Shades State Park 3/22/18 ✶✶✶✶✶

Given the impending start of farm season and the imminent decline of free time, I thought it crucial that Chrissy and I got out to Indiana–yes, Indiana–for a good hiking getaway. We drove 3-3.5 hours to an airbnb outside of Crawfordsville, Indiana, for a chance to hike at Shades and Turkey Run State Parks. Before this trip, I think I’d be hesitant to drive that long for a weekend (Fri-Sun), but my mind is changed, and I am thankful for having it changed. We got, for late March in the midwest, pretty good weather–high 40’s and sunny each day! I … Continue reading Hiking Shades State Park 3/22/18 ✶✶✶✶✶

West Branch DuPage River 2/27/18 ✶✶✶

West Branch, DuPage River: Centennial Park (Naperville) to Private Residence near 95th Street (Bolingbrook) ✶✶✶ This stretch of river, hardly a wilderness experience, puts you through a charming downtown area with some nice riffles and waves immediately, and then winds its way through suburban development before tucking into a nice forest preserve for the final mile or two before the pullout. I took out at my girlfriend’s house, after the confluence with the East Branch of the DuPage River. Skill Level: Beginner, some experience recommended. Some class 1 rapids and many riffles. Distance: 6.5 miles Gage: USGS gage 05540130 at ~360 cfs and … Continue reading West Branch DuPage River 2/27/18 ✶✶✶

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore 2/23/18

This past week, on a fairly warm February Friday, I planned to go to explore the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, near the Illinois town of Danville. Needless to say, I stayed up too late Thursday night and sought out quality hiking a little closer to home. Within about an hour, I brainstormed the outlines of a trip to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and within 75 minutes of leaving my front door, was parking at my first stop for the day, Cowles Bog. Cowles Bog, actually a slightly alkaline fen, takes its name from the botanist Henry Cowles, … Continue reading Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore 2/23/18

Snowshoeing Goodenow Grove ✶✶✶✶

There are definitely less options for snowshoe and ski rentals than I’d like around me. So, today, I woke up and drove about an hour to get to the only forest preserve in Will County that rents snowshoes– (very) mildly annoying because I live in Will County and have to drive an hour to get there, but….. The fog had settled in last night, on Valentine’s Day, and I knew the weather was destined to be mild….but I was afraid of rain. I figured if I left by 11, I’d be able to beat it. I left at about 1130–good … Continue reading Snowshoeing Goodenow Grove ✶✶✶✶

Cross Country Skiing at Sagawau Canyon ✶✶✶✶

Sherry (my Mom) and I went out cross country skiing yesterday (February 10), after we got about 10 inches of snow the day before–Chicago’s largest snowstorm in quite some time! And on a day that only hit a high of 22F, we stayed pretty warm, and only partly because of the roaring fire in the Sagawau Nordic Ski Lodge. Dressed in just a button up, flannel, and Carhart coat on my torso and long underwear and jeans on my legs, I stayed nice and toasty from the constant motion; in fact, if anything, I wore a little too much! Rolling … Continue reading Cross Country Skiing at Sagawau Canyon ✶✶✶✶

Hiking Starved Rock State Park, East Side ✶✶✶✶✶

After our we watched the eclipse this past week, we went back to our room at the Starved Rock Lodge, built in 19xx by Roosevelt’s Conservation Corps, and hung out, spending some time in their new indoor hot tub. You know, to recover from the hiking we were, uh, about to do. I also took a few minutes to cross over the LINK Illinois River and visit the Illinois Waterway Visitor’s Center. Here I got to get my first definitive sighting of a bald eagle roosting on Plum Island–at the visitor’s center, they have a balcony outside with scopes to … Continue reading Hiking Starved Rock State Park, East Side ✶✶✶✶✶

Lunar Eclipse at Starved Rock State Park

With a lunar eclipse–and blue moon-coming very early in the morning on January 31st, we decided to make the most out of it. Coming back to Chicago’s favorite state park, Starved Rock, we got a room at the historic lodge, and crashed for a night before waking up at 5:30 to (hopefully) check out a total lunar eclipse–Illinois astronomy is often clouded out. As we snuck out the back door of the lodge and started fumbling our way, in the dark, towards starved rock, we looked up–scared to see clouds–and, thankfully, saw just very few scattered clouds and a big, … Continue reading Lunar Eclipse at Starved Rock State Park

Castle Rock State Park (Northern Half) ✶✶✶

Chrissy and I, with a day off together, determined to get outside yesterday. In spite of the clouds, cold (about 30), and hour and a half drive, we checked out Castle Rock State Park near the town of Oregon, Illinois. The park itself is only about 2,000 acres–smaller than some forest preserves within a few minutes of us. The topography, though, stands much starker than anything within Chicagoland, with some sections hitting over 800 feet above sea level.       The trails in the northern half of the park total about 4.75 miles–I’d guess we walked at least 4-5 … Continue reading Castle Rock State Park (Northern Half) ✶✶✶

W. Branch DuPage River, Downtown Naperville

Paddled from Centennial Park in Naperville to Weigand Riverfront Park in Naperville yesterday, 10/18. About a two hour paddle–put in at 3:15 and took out around 5:30. USGS gage 05540130 hovered around 425 cfs at the time, and this was plenty of water for us. This paddle encompasses downtown Naperville for a pretty unique paddling experience, and then winds through quiet residential and forested areas before it the Washington Rd bridge that we took out just before. I probably would not paddle at water levels much below this, although I have scraped bottom at 300 cfs on that gage before. Continue reading W. Branch DuPage River, Downtown Naperville