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ADT JOURNAL: CHAPTER 17
May 4, Sunday
Before we left the B&B, other guests there, Jeff and Carol Preston, took our picture with a digital camera and promised to send it via the internet to Broknspoke. With the help of Jeff's laptop PC and Myers' Macintosh, we were able to reformat a diskette and copy files from our corrupted diskette onto the new diskette. Myers took us back to the ice cream shop in Makanda where he had picked us up and we resumed our hike. We were surprised to find that most of today's route was off road after leaving Makanda. The weather was clear, crisp, and near 70. The trail was well marked until we reached the point where we were to follow a new planned relocation for the River to River Trail. Although we initially overlooked the turnoff, we quickly backtracked to the trail and were able to follow it out to Alto Pass without a problem. Tonight we are staying with a local trail volunteer and board member of the River to River Trail Society, Sue Kosma. She owns a farm complete with peacocks, golden pheasants, turkeys, dogs, cats, foxes, horses, and assorted varieties of chickens. We helped her plant new raspberry bushes before dinner and then we made arrangements to trail ride tomorrow's section on horseback with Sue. The plan was to meet John O'Dell who would have our bikes but he also would have a trailer to transport Sue's horses back to her farm. The variety of the people and experiences on this trip is really adding to our enjoyment.
12 miles hiked
May 5, Monday
And now for something completely different a horseback ride on the River to River Trail!! As it turned out we were to get off to a late start because Sue had a dentist appointment. So, we spent the morning currying and grooming and getting to know our three horses. (In case it is not obvious, we have only ridden horses a couple of times in our lives.) We anxiously awaited Sue's return and as we saddled up the horses, a short rainshower blew through, delaying us another half hour. We finally got underway about 12:45, a late start considering we were to meet John at 4 pm some 10 trail miles away. Our horses were very well behaved, responsive, and raring to go. It was evident they had not been ridden much recently. We frequently trotted and cantered through the forest trail and it felt like we were flying. Our route today went through 2 designated wilderness areas. Bald Knob Cross, a 111 foot stone white cross was visible nearby. For about 6 miles we were in true wilderness with no sign of people or houses. Again, we were trying to follow a planned relocation that was not yet blazed. There were numerous trail intersections and unmarked trails and we referred to our maps and compass frequently. The spring wildflowers were abundant. One valley was filled with blue eyed marys, spring larkspur, wild geraniums, and wild blue phlox. One difference we find between horseback riding and hiking is that we have more time to look around instead of always looking at our feet. After a couple tense moments at trail junctions, where we questioned our route finding ability, we emerged from the woods right on time and met John at the picnic area. We then began the process of switching from the backpacking and horseback riding mode to bicycling. It took us about an hour to transfer our gear back onto our bikes and box up our backpacks for shipment to Colorado. We said our fond goodbyes to John and Sue and we biked 10 easy miles along levee roads with a brisk south wind blowing us up the Mississippi River. We camped at Devils Backbone Park in Grand Tower, the western terminus of the River to River Trail.
10 miles on horseback, 10 miles biked
May 6, Tuesday
Today was a fun easy ride along gravel levee roads and other paved roads. In fact, if you like rail trails, you'll love levee roads, at least the ones we rode between Grand Tower and the little town of Cora. The gravel was fine and hard-packed. The views of the Mississippi flood plain on our left and fertile farmland on the right were beautiful, even if they were repetitive. While on the levee roads, we only saw two cars in 20 miles, a pretty remote route. We had a nice stop in Chester, the birthplace of E. C. Segar, the creator of Popeye, which became popular around 1929. The characters are based upon real-life people who lived in Chester at the time. We even checked out the Popeye Museum and Fan Club and bought a pair of Popeye boxer shorts for our son. Enjoy, Mick! We stopped and toured the 1800 home of Pierre Menard, an early entrepreneur of the Kaskaskia area. We cruised along nice sandstone bluffs and stopped for the night at a B&B in Prairie du Rocher.
62.3 miles, 11.4 mph, 5 hours 24 minutes
May 7, Wednesday
Bill replaced another broken spoke as we waited for breakfast. When the owner of the B&B never showed up to serve us breakfast or collect our money, we deducted $10 from the cost to cover the breakfast, left the money in the room, and picked up some milk and danishes in the local market. Four miles down the road we stopped to tour Fort de Chartres. The French were the original european settles of this area in the early 1700's, so towns and architecture reflect this heritage. We again rode levee roads along the Mississippi river with the brisk south wind often at our backs. The fertile farmland in the bottoms was evident as were the effects of the 1993 floods. In one place on the levee, you could see the leftover stacked sandbags on the levee. Flood worn homes had been abandoned and the entire town of Valmeyer had been moved up onto a nearby bluff as part of the government buyout program to prevent recurring flood claims. As we neared St Louis, we took a levee up an adjoining creek and crossed to the levee on the opposite side using an abandoned railroad trestle, and continued following the levees although they are not currently the route of the ADT. When we got to Interstate 255, we could see the levee continue on the other side so we opted to lift our bikes over the fence, run across 6 lanes of divided traffic, and pass our bikes horizontally through a hole in the fence on the other side. Soon after, Bill's tire went decidedly flat due to a cut in the tire. We repaired this and continued to ride the levees into East St Louis. This enabled us to avoid all traffic and inner city riding, plus it gave us what Bill considered the scenic route (i.e., past factories and trainyards). The levees led us directly to the Eads Bridge where we pushed our bikes into the elevator and onto the metroliner and rode it across the Mississippi into downtown St. Louis. We went under the arch, "Gateway to the West" or the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and then rode another 15 miles to meet Bill's cousin, Bill Haack and his wife Ann, where we would spend the night. On our way through the city, wee met 2 interesting people. Wilbur Thomas had a business card that identified him as an "Adventurer". Bill was impressed. Thomas Switzer is the grandson of the man who started Switzer Licorice Co. and he shared an 18 page genealogical study of his family with us. This makes another milestone for us, having completed Illinois, our 7th state. Per our ADT data sheet, this totals 1628 trail miles biked or hiked.
67.6 miles, 12.3 mph, 5 hours 16 minutes, 1352 total miles biked
May 8, Thursday
Bill's cousin owns a company called Clartec which manufactures basically all the plastic parsley one sees in the between the meat displays in grocery stores in the U.S. We used our day off with them to get some needed bike maintenance done at a local bike shop. Bill got a new rear wheel and spare tire, inner tubes, and extra spokes. Laurie needed a pedal cage repaired and her Rockshox forks made springy again. Then, Ann took us downtown where we got to ride up into the arch, watch an IMAX movie about the West, and did laundry and town chores. Tonight we are the featured "guests" on AOL Backpacker in its chat room.
© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet