On Nov. 3, 2012, I did something different for me. I went on a group hike. The Peoria Backpackers MeetUp group posted up on their website that they were going to meet at Matthiessen State Park, so I signed up. Group hiking is quite different from soloing, especially the pace. With 8 or 10 folks, the pace is much more casual and people want to enjoy their surroundings and each other’s company without huffing and puffing or working up a big sweat. I must say, it is nice to have people with whom to share the scenery and the experience. It is fun getting to know new people who have similar interests. I tried to keep my gear talk to a minimum, as I was not quite sure the PBP folks were really all that interested in what I was packing or how I had disciplined myself into an 18 lb load. I heard some interesting tales of hiking in Virginia and North Carolina. I sure would like to get out there for a week or two.
Matthiessen State Park seems like it is about as close to the Appalachians as one can get in IL. We did a lot of up and down while we hiked through the dells area of the park. Then we climbed up out of the canyons and took the Vermilion River trail out across more prairie-like terrain. Total distance hiked was around 5.5-6 miles. It really seemed shorter because I was talking with different folks almost the whole way!
I did pack a winter load, but only packed 1 liter of water and two days food. It all fit quite nicely in the zPacks Blast 30. Total pack weight was only 18 lbs. I was surprised, but then I realized that while I did swap out my light top quilt for a heavier BA sleeping bag, I also wore a lot of the clothes that I had been packing through the summer months. So I think I'll be able to keep my winter weight at my earlier goal of 22 lbs or less. This is very encouraging!
Here is the video of our hike in Matthiessen State Park…enjoy!