On Friday, October 5, 2018, we woke up to a dusting of snow and decided it was time to head south. We left the Upper Peninsula of Michigan via Wisconsin. We made a brief stop in Mosinee to stock up on cheese. Because every full-time RVer knows you don't leave Wisconsin without stocking up on cheese! With the fridge full, next we traveled to Amboy, Illinois. We really had nothing planned for this stop other than rest from two quick moves as we work our way diwn to Kentucky to see Kathy's cousins. However, the weather on Monday, October 8, 2018 was absolutely glorious. We could not pass up a chance to get out and about and enjoy it. After all, Winter is Coming!
After a quick internet search, we found we had our choice - hike, bike or paddle. After all the sitting and driving we've been doing recently, we decided that a good long walk would do us good. Just a few miles from our campground is the Franklin Creek State Natural Area. The 882-acre park preserves the woodlands surrounding the Franklin Creek. We were on our way to hike the Franklin Creek Trail when we came across the John Husar Memorial Trail.
The John Husar Memorial Trail was created in memory of John Husar who was known to many through his poignant and passionate outdoor sports writing for the Chicago Tribune. He believed that everyone should have access to wilderness, soaking in the wonders of the natural world and experiencing its simplicity and mystery. Unfortunately, the first part of Mr. Husar's trail passes right by a portion of private property. While it was definitely wild, it was certainly not natural.
As we started our hike, we were greeted with by this beautiful carved wooden sign.
The trail culminated in a picnic area next to an old barn. In the center of the clearing is a large metal sculpture of cathedral-shaped frames that form the illusion of a tree.
The mile and half trail just got us excited to explore more. We made our way over to the Mill Springs Day Use Area where we found the trailhead for the Franklin Creek Trail System. The first part of the trail runs right next to the creek on an accessible concrete sidewalk.
At the end of the handicapped trail, we picked up the Pioneer Pass Trail. The park brochure mentioned that the Pioneer Pass is highly recommended to see the park's unique, natural beauty. However, it goes on to explain that the three creek crossings on Pioneer Pass are wet at this time pending the construction of footbridges. Unfortunately, this part of the country has received enormous amounts of rain recently. The creek is riding high on its banks. We would just have to see how far we could go.
It didn't take long to discover some of the park's unique, natural beauty.
The trail took us up a ravine to a plateau high above the creek valley -- so high, we were able to receive a cell signal just in time to catch a call from our daughter, Katie. She just wanted to give us an update on her apartment search. It was fun catching up, but we had miles to go, so we wished her happy hunting! Here's a selfy with Katie and us as we talked:
As we continued on our hike, there were a number of footbridges across various streams. We were feeling optimistic about completing our hike.
Unfortunately, there wasn't a bridge where we needed it most. The recent rains made it impossible to find the stepping stones across the creek.
It's not always about the miles. Sometimes its about the roast turkey sandwich with smoked gouda cheese on cranberry pecan bread.
The Stairs by Falling Starz
I've been travelling on the stairs for long,
sometimes stopping with the sense of right or wrong.
The path of life that I call stairs,
I will reach the top, I do declare.
And when the steps get too high to climb,
I plan my future ahead of time.
I do not stop, I do not trip,
I push myself forward and tighten my grip.
Before heading back, we stopped to take a look at Mill Pond. We learned a few things about Illinois. Prior to European settlement, 40% of Illinois was covered with hardwood forests. Today, only about 12% of those forest remain. Illinois ranks 49th among states in percent of land remaining in original vegetation. I think we were lucky to have found this little patch of forest.
Because we want to head south before the snow, we knew we wouldn't have as much time as we like to explore. This was a great introduction to Illinois and we hope to be back someday.