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April 29, Tuesday
It was to be our last day of slackpacking so we decided to take advantage of it. We left Cedar Grove Road and hiked almost 20 miles to route 45. The weather was perfect today, about 70 degrees. We continue to see beautiful sandstone cliffs, although their size is getting smaller. Bill almost stepped on a 3 foot black snake as it quickly slithered into the tall grass. It seems that almost overnight the leaves on the trees are sprouting and beginning to form a canopy.

19 miles hiked

April 30, Wednesday
With our backpacks on our backs, we are once again on our own. It was difficult to leave the warm friendliness of the O'Dell's and the luxury of having a home to return to for 6 nights. As we hiked west from route 45, we took a wrong turn and found ourselves crossing the north/south dam on one of the Cache Lakes. A look at our compass told us this was not the dam we were supposed to be crossing, so we began to backtrack until Bill found the abandoned railroad bed that would intersect our trail. We took this north, coming to a barricaded railroad trestle over a 75 foot deep canyon that lay between us and our goal. The trestle was stout but with no railings and with slots between the railroad ties where one could look down to the stream below, it was rather unnerving. The gate was attached to a wobbly post that one had to grab onto as you swung around it with your back and pack hanging over the precipice. Bill had no problem with this but he had to demonstrate that this was doable three times before Laurie would try it. The reward of being back on the correct trail was worth it and we crossed over the east/west dam on Little Cache Lake. The trail passed two other lakes today, went through meadows, a pine forest, and on into Ferne Clyffe State Park. We saw two more snakes and found numerous ticks crawling on us as the weather warms. Our camp spot tonight is listed as "primitive" but with its water spigot, picnic table, and outhouse, it seems like the Hilton to us. Really strong winds and a thunderstorm blew in after dinner. We heard a loud crash and later investigation revealed that a one hundred foot oak tree had split and fallen over in the wind in a campsite a short way down from ours. Glad we didn't choose campsite number 6!

14 miles hiked

May 1, Thursday
Today was a relaxing day with two great scenic areas. Hawke's Cave in Ferne Clyffe State Park was a huge shelter cave that appeared even larger than Ash Cave in Ohio. Bill was in his glory checking it all out. The middle of the day was mostly road walk through scenic pastureland. We camped tonight in Panthers Den, another area with massive rock cliffs with slot canyons and passageways between them. Bill, especially, again loved investigating all the crevices and scrambling around. With two days under our belt with backpacks, we are delighted to see no signs of Laurie's shinsplints returning. Perhaps tomorrow, Bill can give her back some weight to put in her pack!

14 miles hiked

May 2, Friday
The day was overcast when we started out at 6:45. The rock cliffs subsided as we followed them out and emerged in large grassy fields. Then as we got back onto roads, the heavens opened up. We walked up to the nearest house and asked to wait out the thunderstorm on his porch. Bill Pinkston was at first reluctant, stating that this was "very unusual", but he relented and called back his 4 large dogs. He had long grey hair and a full beard, and in conversation we learned that he had started a vineyard for his "retirement". His current job was as an artist/craftsman of small bronze figures but he told of his plans to expand his vineyard and have its aisles lined with various colors of climbing roses. We got a tour of the young grapeplants before we left. The rain was light and intermittent for the rest of the day as we walked through Giant City State Park and took the side trail to Giant City Nature Trail where we climbed through more sandstone cliffs and crevices. Southern Illinois seems to have no end of interesting rock formations. When we reached Makanda, a town with an artist community of aging "hippies", the rains returned with a vengeance. We picked up our last box of food that we had shipped to the post office and were delighted to find some personal mail there for us. We called the Sassafras B&B and the owner came and picked us up. This is one reason we love B&B's, they often will often extra little services like this. Rain pounded our roof numerous times throughout the night and we decided to take tomorrow off to allow the trails to dry out a little.

14 miles hiked

May 3, Saturday
We took the day off at the B&B and spent the morning with the owners, Frances and Myers Walker, visiting a flea market and checking out portions of our ADT route that we would be travelling over the next couple of days. We wrote our journal on the Walkers' computer and posted it to Pete for your reading enjoyment.

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

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