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April 23, Wednesday
Katelin at the Cool Breeze B&B in Evansville fixed us the best breakfast on the trail so far. It was truly delicious. We were expecting it to rain but it turned out to be a perfect day even if it was a bit windy. We stopped at Burdette Park about 5 miles west of Evansville and found out that in addition to camping, they also have cabins to rent. This looks like a wonderful summertime stop, with several swimming pools and waterslides. When we reached Mount Vernon, we stopped at the Babcock & Wilcox plant which is owned by Bill's former employer. We were given a shop tour by a couple of men he had worked with in the his past life in Barberton, Ohio. We also had an opportunity to update and post our journal.

We crossed a toll bridge over the Wabash River but were not charged. Our entry into Illinois meant 1333 miles completed on the ADT with 5 states behind us. The terrain was very level, with about 10 miles of gravel road. We camped at the city park in Ridgway, IL and were delighted to find out it had flush toilets and hot water, even though the showers had been recently disconnected due to freeze damage. We made a point to eat dinner at a local restaurant as we find that mealtimes are just about our only contact with people along the trail unless we are staying inside somewhere. Ridgway is known as the popcorn capital of the world and we saw several trucks belonging to PopsRite.

58.7 miles, 11.9 mph, 4 hours 55 min

April 24, Thursday
This was an easy day, only 22 miles to cover to meet John O'Dell, the southern Illinois ADT coordinator. We had pre-arranged to meet John at 1:30, so we spent the day stopping at all restaurants we passed. At one point, Bill broke two spokes on his rear wheel and he replaced them with spares we had purchased in Oxford, Ohio and stored in the handlebars. John met us right on time and brought us and our bikes to his house. We transferred our gear into our backpacks which we had shipped here in March. Tomorrow morning, we'll start a 140 mile hike on the River to River Trail.

21.8 miles, 10.4 mph, 2 hours 5 min

April 25, Friday
John dropped us off at the trail intersection with the Karber Ridge Blacktop Road and we began our hike on the River to River Trail, which crosses southern Illinois primarily through the Shawnee National Forest. Many people think of Illinois as flat. Well, this part is not — it is quite hilly with many ridges, deep valleys, and streams. We agreed we had picked the perfect time of year to be on this trail with the dogwoods at their peak and many spring flowers poking through the forest floor. We stopped at High Knob picnic area with its good views and the beginnings of the many unique rock formations this area offers. Like Ohio's Buckeye Trail, the River to River trail is a multi-use trail shared with horseback riders. We had a magnificent stop at Garden of the Gods with its towering sandstone rock formations, many of which are whimsically named. By the afternoon, Laurie's shinsplints were returning — a bad sign. We opted to push on to Herod (about 15 miles total) to spend a second night with the O'Dell's so that we could dayhike tomorrow to take the weight off Laurie's legs. John and Marilee O'Dell have just opened a small store and restaurant in Herod called the Trails Emporium to serve the trail and local community. It's only been open a week and there seems to be quite a bit of interest in their half pound "Power Burger", which we can attest, is delicious.

15 miles hiked

April 26, Saturday
John dropped us off at the Concord Cemetery so that we could dayhike east back to Herod. The trail today was in beautiful condition and followed a long ridge of rock outcropping around the area known as One Horse Gap. The R2R Trail is blazed with blue "i's", always a welcome sight. We found that a compass is a helpful tool to have in our packs at times in this area. We commented about the wonderful dedication, vision, and energy of the various trail enthusiasts across the country, like John O'Dell, who have worked so hard in their areas to make their trail such a wonderful experience. We are glad the ADT ties these fine trails together. We reached Herod by 12:15 with Laurie's shins doing just fine on the dayhike.

9 miles hiked

April 27, Sunday
We took a day off at John and Marilee's. It was very relaxing. We were glad to see it rain on our day off. This is our first real day off in two weeks. The O'Dell's granddaughter, Stephanie, who is in the 4th grade, has been spending the weekend with them. Stephanie is an accomplished horse rider and has won the Welsh Pony Midwest championship for the past 5 years. The O'Dell's have 17 horses and ponies and the ideal setting for them to live. Stephanie eagerly got Laurie and Bill on a horse for a ride. Later we went out for pizza and a movie — "The Saint", starring Val Kilmer.

April 28, Monday
We can't believe our good fortune — another day of slackpacking and the skies turned blue after the morning sun burned through the haze left over from yesterday's all day rain. John dropped us off at Concord Cemetery and we hiked west to Cedar Grove Road. Our route took us through the Lusk Creek Wilderness and it is designated as a National Natural Landmark. A one mile side trail up Lusk Creek brought us to Great Saltpeter Cave and numerous other rock shelters along the creek. Impressive sandstone cliffs lined both sides of the creek. If you haven't gotten the idea yet folks — this area is a hiker's paradise with so much to see, a person could spend 3 or 4 weeks around here and still not see everything. We stopped for lunch at a small waterfall on Bear Branch Creek and then made another stop at a restaurant in Eddyville. Except for a turkey hunter this morning, we did not see anyone on the trail all day. Near the end of the day, we climbed Crow Knob, a splendid rocky knob with great views. We also saw a coyote today, our first sighting ever in the wild. John picked us up at the end of our hike. A reporter from the local paper came and interviewed us tonight.

15 miles hiked

© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet

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