Sunday, September 30, 2012


Out on a 5.5 mile training hike for my upcoming River to River Trail section hike I came across these mushrooms. I believe both are edible. The photos are Chicken of the Woods and the ones in the vid are Giant Puffballs. Mushrooms are not something I want to mess with too much ad far as an edible goes. More chance of mistakes when compared to plants. But if they are what I think they are, they would make a good addition to the wild edible book.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The River to River Trail

One adventure on the horizon would a thru-hike of the River-to-River trail located in Southern Illinois. This trail is around 160 miles through the Shawnee National Forest. I have seen several different mileages listed but the 160 seems to be about the average. That type of mileage takes some time, how much time will depend on the pace I can maintain over 7-10 days. It may be easy enough to hit the 20-25 mile per day with my current pack load, but can I sustain that over the extent of the trip? It is hard for me to know.

Therefore, to find out, I am planning up a section hike of one of the nicer areas of the trail, Garden of the Gods to the Lusk Creek Trailhead. This section is only about 25 miles but I will do it in a loop so I can get back to my car. The terrain is listed as challenging enough to reduce a hiking pace to 1 mile per hour. This is a heavy contrast to the standard 3 mph I usually do on hilly terrain. I had an adventure in the area I will be going back in February. I did not find the terrain that difficult and that was with a pack quite a bit heavier than what I plan to take.

So will I be able to make the 50 miles in the 3 days I have allotted?  Right now, all I can do is plan. To help I purchased the River to River Trail Guide written by John O'Dell. The guide is useful and contains all the color maps that can also be found on the Shawnee National Forest website. I had hoped the guide would provide clear detailed information on water sources, good camping sites or, in general, more details about the technicality of the trail. Unfortunately, it did not, but it is a good source on some of the touristy things that can be found on the trail like petroglyphs or other natural wonders.

A second book I picked up contains nothing but GPS waypoints along the trail. Written by John Voigts, the River to RiverTrail Pocket Guide. This book has quite a bit of information crammed into a small package. Locations of caves, possible water sources, campgrounds as well as scenic points. Between the two, this one is the most helpful. Compiling this with the maps available at the Forestry Service website gives a clearer picture on what to expect on the trail. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Gear: #9 ULA Circuit backpack

Quick overview of the ULA Circuit backpack. Overall the pack is working quite well. It is light and surprisingly fits all my gear. I was skeptical at first since ULA calculates the pack volume by including the exterior pockets and not just the main chamber. It all fits though. Definitely a pack company to check out.

Adventure: #15 Pine Ridge Recreation Area

I got out for a short overnight to a stretch of the Mark Twain National Forest south of Columbia, MO.  The weather was cooler and I feel that Fall is on the way. I spent considerable time on the first day working on my tarp setting up some self-tensioning guylines. Overall I am happy with the outcome of the efforts. I still need to work on setting up a mechanism for closing the ends of the tarp to create "doors" should the weather get nasty.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Gear: #8 USGI Buttpack Shoulderbag

When I first started getting out more I needed a small bag that I could use while fishing or just general bumming around. I liked the look of the stuff Maxpedition made but I did not like the giant price tag. I had this USGI buttpack lying around so I decided to modify it a bit to make a shoulder bag. The strap is from about 70 feet of paracord while the shoulder pad and organizer are made from simple cotton duck cloth. The entire thing was pretty cheap to make.  It works well as long as it is not loaded down too much. Excessive weight can wear on the shoulder after awhile.