and ramblings on everything in between
We’re halfway through the year. Remember those resolutions you set on January 1? No? Why am I bringing them up, you say?
Oh, only because I’m rocking at mine this year. (Vain much?). You can save your round of applause until the end. 😉
My one goal this year was to get outside more and put my old Keens to better use. I rarely go hiking, using the excuse that I live in the boring, old Midwest. This is what I told myself for three years, anyway, and apparently I was wrong. There is plenty to do, I just wasn’t as willing to make it a priority.
To prove to myself that I was serious, I headed to Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, IL, on an unseasonably warm New Year’s Day and hiked a few miles around the park alone. I spent the day dreaming of what I wanted my year to be and all the places I wanted to go.
A view of the Illinois River from the top of Ravine Trail.
My bestie Sara (miss you so much it hurts, lady!) and her fierce dogger Yadi hiked Silver Lake Trail in Highland, IL, with me late in the winter. The weather was starting to warm (finally). We hiked for a while believing we were on the trail only to actually find the trail once we thought we were finished. The long way around was worth it though.
Look at that ferocious smile on Yad-monkey.
After a botched attempt to visit Castlewood State Park, my mom and I found ourselves walking around Lone Elk Park near Ballwin, MO, where bison and elk roam freely on parts of the land. It was NCAA tournament time and I kept my phone close at hand to get updates on the UConn game. We didn’t necessary love this park, but for something we stumbled upon at the last minute it served its purpose.
The next adventure was by bike along the Katy Trail, which runs from Machens, MO, to New Franklin, MO. Sara and I rented this sweet tandem bike in Defiance and made it two towns up to Augusta, where we were distracted by the allure of wineries and picnic lunches and a steel drum. Totally worth it.
My quest to hike in Castlewood State Park in Ballwin, MO, was finally fulfilled in April. Zach and I trekked River Scene Trail overlooking the Meramec River. Spring had arrived, no need for a coat on this one, which was a delight.
While on my way to a kayaking event with The Alpine Shop, I stopped back by Pere Marquette State Park to see the trails in full color in May. I barely recognized it from the desolate winter scene I had first viewed in January.
One beautiful day in May, I drove to Mark Train National Park in Kaolin, MO. There is a 12-mile loop around the lake that is great for both hiking and mountain biking. I lasted about an hour on the trail before the lake finally convinced me to jump in. The trail was a little monotonous and the lake was so, so warm. The drive to Kaolin was pretty and box turtles and armadillos were sprinkled in along the way.
Carlyle Lake in Carlyle, IL, is much closer to St. Louis but was nothing compared to the gorgeous views and clear water at Mark Twain National Forest. I walked along the flat trails at Eldon Hazlet State Park, marveling at the amount of cobwebs I had to walk through and watching a group of Boy Scouts hunt for drift wood and pine cones, before parking it on the beach for the afternoon.
My last day as a 20-something was spent biking and kayaking at Creve Coeur Lake in Creve Coeur, MO, with my mama. Seriously, doesn’t that thing look like an ice cream cart? We felt ridiculous in it and wished it had a bell so we could loudly announce our presence along the trail.
Not ashamed to be ‘that girl’…
My last adventure was in Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton, MO. We were vacationing at the Lake of the Ozarks and my mom and I found ourselves visiting the park early one morning while the rest of our family slept. There is a natural spring that runs into the lake, creating a stunning blue lagoon. We also climbed up 316 steps to see the ruins of a mansion along the Castle Trail.
Where should I head next? What great trails am I missing? I have Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois on my list but other than that my fall is wide open. Feel free to send your suggestions.
And it’s never too late to revive your resolutions! It’s like the old saying goes – today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it count.