River to River Trail – Day 6

Home to Shawnee Canopy Tours to Giant City
2 miles

We loaded up the car and hit the road about 7am, so we could make our 11am zip line tour.  I have wanted to go zip lining for years, but the opportunity never really presented itself.  This place is just about two miles off the trail, so there was no way I was going to let it pass by.  Since Ubadion was staying behind, our eldest will be taking his place on the tour.  This worked out great, as he’s a bit of a thrill seeker already.

Once we arrived, we met Candy and Marc, who own and run the Shawnee Canopy Tours.  They were genuinely kind people who had been very excited about our trip when I emailed them with questions weeks prior.  Candy even offered the possibility of picking us up from where the trail met the road, which was an incredible gesture.  Thankfully, it was unnecessary and we met our tour partners, Richard and Amy who were celebrating their anniversary with their daughter Rachel.  Richard and Amy are also looking forward to hiking the Appalachian Trail in the future, so we had lots to talk about.  They even suggested a local place to learn to scuba dive, which had never occurred to me.  

We learned the necessary safety tips and procedures by our guides Hogan and Nathan, who were both funny and patient.  Before we knew it, we’re were harnessed up and trying our first practice line.  I really thought I would be more nervous, but I felt completely comfortable under the watchful eyes of our guides.

The whole experience was incredibly fun.  It was just the right level of exciting, without tipping into the realm of terrifying.  It was great to feel the wind on your face, to see the magnificent views from above, and to experience something completely new and novel.

Hogan and Nathan also spent time educating us on the local flora and fauna, environmental practices and the actual mechanics of the zip lines themselves.  It was all very fascinating, and if think it really enhanced the tour itself.  It also helped that the guides seemed to sincerely enjoy themselves and us, so that their company was both fun and friendly.

I loved the whole day and can’t wait to bring our hiking meetup groups down to share the experience with us.  As we were finishing up and preparing to leave, I asked Candy what inspired them to open this business a year ago.  She informed me that Marc set up a mini zip course for their children many years back.  As he was contemplating building one for his grand kids, he jumped online and learned what a terrific tourist industry it had become, and since Illinois had so few available, it seemed he was the person to fill the gap.  I am so glad he followed his crazy idea to fruition, because it was an absolute fulfillment of my own dream.

After we said our goodbyes, we drove back to the Giant City Lodge to have lunch.  We enjoyed a large fried chicken meal, which was yummy but the biscuits with butter and apple butter were the real winners.  

Afterwards, the eldest dropped us off at the trailhead and we said goodbye and hiked into the forest.  It’s amazing how just a short period of time off trail sets your body back.  I was really huffing and puffing on the ascent, but I had comfort in knowing we weren’t going far today.

This part of the trail is just gorgeous, with rock formations, tall trees and a wide footpath.  It was a pleasure to walk down and I hope it continues this way for some time.

The forest floor here is covered in leaf litter, inhibiting much of the undergrowth, making it perfect for camping.  This is really what I envisioned when I thought about hiking the trail and I’m glad we got to experience it at least once.  I’m in my hammock now, listening to a hawk and an owl try to shout one another down like some nature version of battle of the bands.  It’s an early night for us, which is a treat.  I hope to get some great sleep and head out bright eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow.

As a postscript, Arbor has been sullied by the rampant poison ivy. Hes got some on his ankle, a line up his calf and a nice spot on his arm. we have some ivy scrub with us now, and we just hope that we can keep it under control without picking up any more.

Post postscript – we’re able to get a phone signal more often than a wifi signal.  This means we’ve been updating our instagram accounts with some regularity.  If you want to find us there, my user name is tauwillow and Arbor’s is tauarbor.

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3 thoughts on “River to River Trail – Day 6

  1. I was wondering if you were zip lining! How great that you all loved it. I’m glad that you, once again, met some really nice and fun people and had a terrific canopy guide & Zip experience. It made me really happy to see that BP got to join in this adventure with you. (Sorry you got Poison Ivy, Thom, unfortunately there is tons of it all around you! ) The trail looks beautiful! Hope you both got a refreshing night’s rest! xo

  2. It was great to meet you guys at Ferne Clyffe! We are inspired by your zest to live life fully. We will be headed to Cabela’s soon to check out their gear after seeing your cool camping trappings. I grew up on a farm in Kansas to which we headed after Ferne Clyffe. I appreciative your photos over the past year particularly of the endless varieties of fungi – something I love to explore myself. We did some zip lining a couple years ago in Colorado – good memories! Southern Illinois is a beautiful place. We will be back again.

    • It was so fun meeting you both as well, and your help really made all the difference for us that day! The zip lining was amazing fun and I really look forward to doing it again sometime. I wish you could have seen all the different fungi that’s out there in the Shawnee – it’s dizzying! I’ll try to include some more photos of them in future posts, because they really were incredible. Hope your visit to Kansas was fruitful. 🙂

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