On April 16, 2016, I did my first camping trip of the year. I hiked about 4.5 miles in Hidden Springs State Forest. When I arrived there were several people hunting for morel mushrooms. This was the first time I have ever seen, touched, and smelled these delicacies. They are quite pungent! Someday I will try them cooked properly. I believe I will enjoy that.
Today I use my SPOT locator device for the first time on a hike. I bought it in summer 2015, to use on my solo canoe trip. The SPOT has a “tracker” setting which sends coordinates to the website every 10 minutes. Unfortunately, overhead tree cover blocked some of my tracker signals. So my dataset is incomplete. But, I have more data on the actual hike than I have had in the past.
I went straight to the Rocky Spring Trailhead in the southern portion of the forest. The trail is marked as 3 miles. The DNR has changed the course of the trail so I saw several trails that looked like spurs, but actually are discontinued portions of the trail. It is a nice hike with some ups and downs. It’s a good trail for the year’s first hike. All the trails are gravel poured on mud.
After I completed that trail I went to the Big Tree trail. Unfortunately, the bridge at the trailhead is out. I was unable to hike that trail so I walked around the woods along the banks of the creek for about a half mile. After that I went to the two ponds, White Oak and Sassafras. These ponds are reached by walking about 500-750 feet or so from the parking area. They are nice spots for having a quiet picnic and just whiling away a few hours. I took some video of White Oaks Pond and the frogs mating in Sassafras Pond. I hiked about one mile total around the ponds.
The forest was scheduled to be underwater as a dam was proposed back in the 1950’s. When Lake Shelbyville was created just a few miles north, the land was designated a state forest. The DNR is using the area to test various forest management techniques. They are using the pine forest for seed stock which is used across the rest of Illinois. They are also fostering the growth of walnuts. It seems they are also testing cutting methods as I saw a lot of cut trees on my hike. The trees that have been cut seemed to be in 3-7 inch diameter range. Larger trees were left standing.
After hiking I set up camp in the Possum Creek campground. There were a few tent campers and some trailer/RV campers. I tried Hawk Vittles Clam Vermicelli. I bought this dehydrated meal in summer 2015. Unfortunately, I think air got into the package and the fats went rancid. It didn’t taste too good. So I drove to a sandwich shop for dinner. When I got back around 9 pm, one of the trailer campers had started his gas generator. I thought he would obey the 10 pm quiet time, but he let the engine run until the wee hours. I didn’t sleep too well. When I got up at 6am, he was starting the generator again. Oh well, that’s state park camping for you.
I used my Granite Gear pack and loaded it up with about 20 lbs, including 2 qts of water. I carried another 2 lbs of camera gear in my fanny pack for a total load of 22 lbs. It was good to get out and stretch the old muscles.