Day 365: The Woods

Winter FieldYesterday, Jim and I went on a hike in Ryerson Woods, a beautiful nature preserve on the Des Plaines River. We just discovered this place for the first time this weekend, and I’m pretty excited about it because there is a 4-mile trail in the preserve. It’s hard to find hiking trails that long near Chicago.

Water Jim in TreeI made Jim take a picture standing in this dead tree. He didn’t really want to do it for some reason. Scared of squirrels, perhaps?

PathHiking BootsThese are my new hiking boots. They’re not that cute, but they fit well. Thanks New Balance for making shoes in wide width! You’re the best!

Jim on PathThe DamMeJim took this picture of me sitting on a tree stump that was once chewed up by a beaver. I think it’s a good picture.

Here are the other nature-y photo posts I’ve done this year:

Day 238: Scenes from Wisconsin



Shoes and Water

Hidden Bowling Pins

Last Saturday, Jim and I went up to Kettle Moraine South to hike the last eight mile section of the Ice Age Trail within the park. After completing it that day, I officially accomplished one of the things one my list of 32 Things to Do Before I Turn 33: Hike the whole length of the Ice Age Trail running through Kettle Moraine South. Wahoo!

These pictures are just a few scenes from the day. Not sure why the plastic bowling pins were in the forest, but they were.

Day 229: Yosemite

Before the Hike

Half Dome Sunset

Yosemite Pines in Moss

On Thursday, August 16, I did the most strenuous hike of my life. On the Snow Creek trail in Yosemite, I climbed up over 100 switchbacks in approximately 95 degree heat without breeze or shade. The altitude gain was over 2600 feet, which is about the height two Sears Towers stacked on top of one another. It was intense.

And I did it! I’m not going to say it was easy. At one point, I felt faint and sick to my stomach because I was overheating (we found a rare piece of shade where we rested until I cooled down). At another point, Jim and I had to jump over a swarm of yellow jackets and then run as fast as we could so they didn’t follow and attack us.

It was hours and hours of hiking up and evading wildlife (I saw a squirrel so big I thought it was a mountain lion), but eventually we reached the top, where we were greeted by a gorgeous stream of rushing water and a deep pool where we could swim. It was like paradise.

These are a few of the photos I took that day with the disposable camera we bought. The first one is Jim and I scared before our hike. The second shows the view from our campsite when we reached the top. The last one shows some of the beautiful pines of Yosemite and the bright green moss that sometimes grows on them.

Day 148: Motel and/or Hike


Indoor Pool from Outside

On Sunday, you could either say I made very little or a whole lot.

I took three pictures of our motel in Wisconsin (two of them are above), which isn’t much since usually when I do a series of photos I take between 20 and 100 photos. This would count as the “very little.”

On the other hand, I also took a 12.5 mile hike along the Ice Trail in Kettle Moraine South in scalding 95 degree heat. I’d like to call this the “a lot.” In a way, you could say I “made a hike” or “made progress toward becoming more fit” or even “made strides in finishing my 32 before 33 list, since hiking the entire length of the Ice Age Trail through Kettle Moraine South in Wisconsin is on my list. Sure, it’s kind of a stretch, but I feel like it’s a stretch worth taking since the hike almost killed me.

We got a late start for lots of reasons–we ate a slow breakfast, had trouble finding the trailhead, and are generally slow movers in the morning . We got on the trail at 11:15 a.m. and started with a leisurely pace. It was really nice. The scenery was beautiful with big pine trees and oaks on a deeply forested trail. There were also lots of hills to climb up, a welcome change for an Illinois girl.

Around 2:15 we got to a break in the trail with a parking lot and a trail map. That’s when we found out we still had 7.5 miles to go (and we had already gone 5 miles).  See, we knew the trail was long, but because the state park website is pretty bad, we were having trouble figuring out just how long the trail was. We thought it would be somewhere between 8 and 12 miles, but we didn’t figure out it was 12.5 miles until we got to that parking lot and were already feeling kind of tired.

In any case, we filled up our 32 ounce water bottles and got back on the trail, which started through a patch of forest with tons of raspberry bushes (if only they were ripe!). Unfortunately, the forest quickly faded away and we were suddenly hiking through a giant open savannah. In intense heat. With only 32 ounces of water.

We hiked that way for three more hours. By the end, my heart was pounding so hard, not because I was physically exhausted, but because I was getting dehydrated. But I pushed on. I dragged myself up over hills and through deceiving patches of trees that opened up back onto the vast prairie.

Until we finally reached our final destination…and a water spigot. I must say the water was amazing and my aching feet felt amazing when I ripped my shoes off. After almost five and half hours of hiking my dogs were tired, and I was even more tired.

It was worth it though. That 12.5 mile hike was my longest ever, and I am really proud. I’ve had problems with my knees over that past few years, and I feel like being able to walk that much shows that I am finally recovering and have been building strength in my knees again.

I also feel like I proved something to myself that goes beyond my knee problems–I’m still fit, strong, and up for a challenge!

Day 15: A Day in Wisconsin

Snow in the Pines

Man with Red Beard

Wintery Forest Scene

Wooden Shutters

Hanging Lamp

Feet in Snow

More photos. These are from our day cross country skiing and hiking in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. We had great weather and enjoyed spending time and being active outdoors. A lovely day!