River to River Trail – Day 4

Cedar Lake Spillway to Giant City Lodge
8.7 Miles +

I woke up to the intense smells of clover flower and honeysuckle. I’ve never experienced a scent like that, so wonderful and heavy, just there for you every time you breathed in. I was the first to get up and dragged my family out of their beds so that we could get an early start to the day.

It’s a long morning, with 8 miles before we get to Makanda for our first mail drop. This also means we need to get there during operating hours and we will need to push to get there in time.

I put on warmer clothes, and pulled out my Alite Monarch chair to make breakfast but discovered that the metal joint had pushed in so that I couldn’t connect the chair leg anymore. 😦 I will need to call the company, since I’ve only had it a handful of months and barely used it.

After breakfast we pulled on our wet clothes (because all our hiking clothes were wet now) and broke camp.

Unfortunately, my guys are incredibly slow in getting moving and it takes forever to finally get hiking again. This will need to be something that requires improvement, because we are hiking slower than projected, and there are a number of time sensitive deadlines we need to meet.

The hiking was really lovely. Lots of tall pines with soft ground. The mix of green and red through the forest was a feast for the eyes. The path was plenty wide and well defined, although still wet and squishy from the rain the night before. Because our shoes and socks were still wet, and the trails and undergrowth damp – it was like submerging our feet in water all day. I have a silicone foot gel that I’ve been using called Gurney Goo, but I can’t tell if it’s making much difference.

There were an incredible amount of turtles in this stretch. They are really fun to happen across. The pine trail was 4 miles long, with lots of ups and downs and we were pretty pooped by the time we got to the road.

What we are learning is that roads are foot murder with the constant flat pounding. There’s something about the varied terrain of the trail that keeps the foot flexing in different ways so that the fatigue doesn’t set in so quickly.

The trail went from road to forest to road to forest. Unfortunately, the forest portions look like they haven’t been walked or maintained in years. The blazing was inconsistent and there were zero foot paths to be found. We got lost several times, which means a lot of backtracking, stressing and consulting maps & GPS.

All of the lost time meant that when we finally made it into town, the post office had just closed. Arbor ran in and rapped on the closed window and we were blessed with a kind postal worker who dug out our two boxes. Mission accomplished! We sat out on the sidewalk and unloaded the boxes into our packs, increasing our weight what felt like an extra 20 pounds. πŸ˜‰

We stopped in at Makanda at the General Store and deli and got sodas and sandwiches. Also just catching them before they closed. That little stretch of shops appeared to be a local gathering spot and we chatted with a number of terrific folks. Everyone likes to tell us about the riverboat restaurant in Elizabethtown and the catfish dinner we can get there. We compared that to the Maine lobster we intend to get at the end of the Appalachian Trail when we go. Brian joked that the catfish is the lobster of Illinois. I found that incredibly endearing and hilarious.

I have to say, the people we have met along the trail have been incredible. Even folks driving past us in their cars wave to us without exception. I had been so looking forward to hiking, nature and family time – but connecting with all of these great people has been an unexpected treat.

We finished our late lunch and hit the road again, eventually making it to Giant City Lodge. We hadn’t planned to stay in the cabins, but with all the wet clothes and filth and stink – a night in beds with a bathtub sounded divine.

I am now squeaky clean, our clothes are washed and hanging to dry and we’re eating trail food to help lighten our loads for tomorrow. Life is good.

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One thought on “River to River Trail – Day 4

  1. Well done! I’m so pleased for you that you managing to forge ahead despite the discomforts of too much rain, mud, getting lost and all the other annoying crawling, biting, squishy or nasty things that naturally occur when hiking! What seems to be balancing those unwanted experiences is all the unexpected beauty you are finding in nature and in complete strangers. I know you are learning a lot about hiking and yourselves. Great photos and commentary. Thank you for that!

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