Cuivre River

    I had the chance to visit someplace I hadn't gone before, Cuivre River State Park, which is pronounced "Quiver River," at least in Midwesterneese.  The park was a bit confusing to figure out, as the signs weren't too easily spotted and one of the main roads had been shut down (as well as the main visitor's office being closed, so that there wasn't really anyone who could be much help.  My father and I had originally planned to do the Big Sugar Creek trail at this park, but the leaves were so heavy over the ground that the trail was almost impossible to find and the trail wasn't exactly overly marked. I would love to return to this park and try again in the spring.

    Instead we ended up doing the Lakeside Trail that runs all around the lake, which was marked off in my book as being one of the easiest hikes in the park, running about 3.5 miles. It was fairly easy, but still had some challenging bits. Especially since the lake looks deceptively small and round, as if you can see the entire perimeter. Don't be fooled though! The lake has quite a few twists, turns, and random inlets that keep you guessing: sometimes I would think we were about to turn around and start heading back to the starting point, which looked very close indeed, only to turn into another inlet and have quite a ways to go! The start of the trail was quite confusing, as there was a bridge I assumed you had to cross to start the trail, but instead you have to walk across the rocks that don't look like you should be walking on them.

This was a peaceful, beautiful trail. I don't think it was even really marked, but it hardly had to be... the trail was clear cut and easy to find, and simply followed the shore of the lake the entire way.  Sometimes you were a little bit above the water, but a lot of the trail you are walking directly against the shore.  There were almost no other people on the trail, and the single-track dirt trail was perfect for keeping hikers to smaller groups.  We noticed a LOT of trees that had been seemingly attacked by beavers, shells in the water, and lots of birds to listen and watch.

   I forgot to update this hike when it happened, so I'm backposting this entry. I'm sure I had far more to say about the trail, but can't remember. I can say, though, that I really enjoyed this trail and would certainly do it again, and would like to revisit this park to try out more of the trails they have to offer.

Updating materials and meeting the author who started it all...

    REI always has some really interesting opportunities in the classes and talks they offer. I recently attended a talk and slide show about the best hiking and camping in Illinois and Missouri, with authors John Schirle (author of The Best in Tent Camping: Illinois: A Guide for Car Campers Who Hate RVs, Concrete Slabs, and Loud Portable Stereos) and Steve Henry, who I have mentioned and referenced on this blog probably a hundred times, author of the book that got it all started for me, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of St. Louis: Including Sullivan, Potosi, and Farmington (as well as a book about tent camping in Missouri and mountain biking in the Ozarks).

    While it may sound somewhat ridiculous to be excited to meet Steve Henry, I really, really was. I am the kind of person who gets excited about meeting authors in general-- I am a reading nerd, and books play a huge part in my life. Hiking is a strangely recent thing in my life. While I've always since childhood been obsessed with the idea of nature, living in it, and climbing mountains (I wanted to be Heidi when I was 4 years old, even though I never climbed ANY mountains), actually getting out and hiking was a rare occurence.   I graduated from college over 4 years ago, and about 40 pounds heavier than I am now. Hiking started a change for me. I didn't do it to lose weight, but it helped keep me active, gave me peace of mind and an escape from the work week, a place where my brain could finally relax and wander and stop worrying. The book helped me start easy and slowly start to challenge myself more and more.

Needless to say, both authors were really interesting and informative. I bought two books (pictures posted below (both books put out by Menasha Ridge Press), and hope to use them both a LOT (even though I haven't been hiking in awhile, whoops).  I met Mr. Henry after the lecture so he could sign my NEW updated copy of 60 Hikes, which I've been meaning to buy for awhile. He was very friendly and I told him about this blog and how much the book had helped me in my hiking experiences. He seemed very interested and willing to let me ramble, and even said he may have crossed this blog a couple times while researching the last edition for the book, because it sounded really familiar to him!!!!! While maybe he was just being kind, if that is true, that would be SO AWESOME.

Yes, I geek out sometimes.

Found: Taum Sauk Mountain pictures (October hike)