Those who know me have learned I’m always up for an adventure so when my friend, Sara, asked me if I would be interested in joining her for a couple of days hiking in Starved Rock State Park in Illinois I jumped at the chance. I had heard from a few people that it was a beautiful place and since it was just a couple of hours away I didn’t want to miss this.
After working a 12 hour shift I came home, grabbed a bag filled with what amounted to too much clothing as always (hey I may hike and run in the mud but I’m a girly girl and I pack like one!), said goodbye to the furkids and headed out. Sleep be damned, I wanted to hike!
2 hours later after a beautiful drive with perfect skies and surprisingly little traffic I arrived at the campsite. I don’t even think I had everything out of the car before we were heading out to explore. We started off trekking to the namesake of the park, Starved Rock, which gave an amazing view of the area surrounding.
After that I can’t even begin to remember all the places we visited by name but I had the wonderful experience of standing under two waterfalls and just feeling all my stress and cares being washed away.
We hiked for most of the day and then went in search of firewood at one of the local “camp stores”, Jack’s. Now Jack…yeah, he was a character. You pull up to his home which has a garage full of odds and ends to purchase as well as clothes baskets with firewood. You have to honk your horn if you don’t see anyone. For $5 you get approximately five or six pieces of wood AND the treat of having to fill up a new clothes basket as well. Yep, you pay to work. I didn’t quite catch this at first and I’m sitting in the car as I see Sara head over and load two baskets!
After the camp store we headed out to dinner at a tiny little place called the Cajun Connection. When you walk in it’s just like any little hole in the wall restaurant (well, other then quite a few alligator heads and such) and we sat down to what has to be one of the best meals I’ve had in ages! Alligator and crawfish both deep fried but light and tender, hushpuppies like none I’ve ever had that melted in your mouth, and shrimp etouffee that was amazing!
Full from our wonderful dinner we head back to camp for a little bit of fire and relaxing before the storm came in. I was exhausted and slept through everything including the attack of aluminum foil by a raccoon into shiny things in the midst of the storm.
Morning light breaks through the trees and we were up and ready to explore more after a trip to town. We stopped and hiked in another nearby park for a bit and be still my heart it was a trek through mud! Lilo came out full force as I happily slipped and slid though the muck (and crossed a bridge that was beyond sideways; learning after I had completed my crossing that it was on one leg and the bolts were coming out of that one!).
After what felt like a training for the next mudrun was completed we ended up at what might have been THE most beautiful area we found in those two days. The waterfall we found could have been enough all on its own but the reflections dancing on the walls from the water looked like liquid fire. I was in awe. Stunned and silent awe. The photos do not do this justice at all!
I could go on for hours about the beauty that I was able to explore and the amazing journey we had but I think that the best thing I can do is to tell you….go! If not to Starved Rock just go, find a place to hike and explore and let everything just disappear for a while.
Live and Love Life!
Thank you Sara for allowing me to be a part of your journey as well!
Ohana my friends!
Muddy and loving it!