First Solo Hike

Forest Glen Preserve - Georgetown, IL 

October 17-19, 2020

I planned two short backpacking trips close to me in the spring, and I was going to top it off with my first trip to Colorado in late summer. Of course, all trips were canceled by the parks due to COVID-19. I unexpectedly had a pretty complicated surgery in June. I was in the hospital for four days, and when I got home, I had six weeks of recovery and a 6” scar down my stomach. I wasn’t going to let any of this stop me from achieving my goal of backpacking. So I started slowly walking, at first, I could only get past a couple of houses, then down to the corner, etc. I started my weight routine. I kept it in mind not to push too hard because I didn’t want any setbacks. I was able to carry my 40lb pack four miles by Labor Day, so I decided it was time. I made a reservation at Forest Glen Preserve. My hike was scheduled Saturday to Monday, but I saw the weather was better Friday through Sunday as the time drew near. I walked into my boss’s office on Thursday and asked if I could take Friday off. It was the best decision I made. The weather was fantastic!

As you can see, I have an old outside frame backpack. It belongs to a man I consider to be my Dad. He cannot go on these trips with me, so he asked me to carry his pack. We both felt like he was with me. I will list some of the items I used and let you know how I liked them. I'll start with my favorite things. The light that is in the top right of the collage above, I absolutely loved it! It is a blow-up solar-powered light that I picked up for a couple of bucks. I tossed it on the dashboard when driving and, with the attached strap, hooked it on the outside of my pack while hiking. That was enough charge for the entire weekend. Since I'm talking electronics, I loved and will never go without my Anker 20000PD Power Bank that I bought for about $60. I was able to charge my phone to a full charge three times on my trip and still had at least one charge left when I got back to my car.  I purchased both of these items from Walmart. A few of my Amazon purchases that I am happy with are: Outdoor Vitals Down TopQuilt rated for 15 degrees $215, Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Air Mattress $120, and the Pibella Travel Pearl $23. The Pibella is something I wish I had a long time ago. For all you ladies out there, you can take a pee like a guy. You won't have to pull your pants down; there is no squatting involved.  It is heaven!  Now that I am writing things down I don't think there is anything that I hated. My tent was an Ozark two-person tent from Walmart. I have used it several times. Because of COVID a couple of times was only in my backyard, but I wanted to try it in the rain and snow before I got out on the trail. Overall it is a quality tent for only $44. The only trouble I had was in the rain; the ties would drip water a little. The seams were taped, and caused no problem. Overall I was very happy with the Ozark. It is not ultralight. It weighs 4lbs, but for the price, I'll take it. I really spent most of my money on sleeping gear and clothing as I thought those would be the most important to me. If I got cold, I knew I would be miserable. If anyone is interested in a complete list of what I took and how much it cost, feel free to ask. I would be happy to post it.  

I hiked four miles the first day. It was only three miles to the first campsite. However, I got lost once so it took me four (LOL). I met a rat snake lying across my path the first day. I greeted him with a friendly hello and gave him a wide birth to go on his way. I set up camp and went to the stream to collect water. The campsites were excellent, they had fire rings and picnic tables. The fire rings were deep which help reduce the blowing away of embers from the fire. The outhouse was pleasant as far as outhouses go. I met two young men who joined me by the fire I had going. We talked well into the night. They offered me a drink which I might have taken them up on during non-covid times.  I bid the boys goodnight and retired to my tent. 

During the early morning hours, I enjoyed my time alone with my luxury item a tahkli spindle. ( photo below) Once the sun rose and I finished my breakfast and tending to hygiene I packed my day pack with food and water. I hiked to the next campsite which was about five miles further. That is where I enjoyed my lunch. I then finished the trail to the entrance and then and on to my campsite giving me a total of 13 miles hiked on the second day. The landscape was lovely and peaceful. There was a lot of up and down which I enjoyed. I passed a few runners and some hikers. I don't think this would be a good trail for bikes as the up and downs are very steep. I learned an important lesson that day, bring more food for thirteen miles! I only fell once, it was on a steep downhill. I fell backward and rode the leaves to the bottom. No harm was done to anything but my pride. I was starving by the time I returned to my tent. There was a new couple setting up when I returned, but I had to go straight to my tent to make dinner before I could make polite conversation, LOL. After dinner, I said an early good night to my neighbors went to my tent where I slept a glorious 11 hours. After having a leisurely breakfast I broke camp and started back to my car. It was another nice day. It started to drizzle just as my car came into sight. Again I was so pleased I decided to come a day early. I highly recommend this trail! I plan on coming back in the spring. I'll be sure to show you the difference.



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