Shawnee National Forest Getaway!
Friday Tim and I escaped to the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois for a quick respite.
Consisting of 280,000 acres of land, the Shawnee Forest sprawls over much of the southernmost part of the state.
|Tim at Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee Forest|
|Camel Rock at Garden of the Gods|
First, we stopped off at Garden of the Gods near Harrisburg. Here sandstone rock formations form an alien landscape.
|More weird rocks|
|Giant City State Park Lodge (http://giantcitylodge.com/)|
We then traveled to Giant City State Park near Carbondale. The lodge, which now serves as the park restaurant and meeting rooms, was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and it is lovely.
|Historic Cabins at Giant City. (Photo from www.thisisfun.com)|
Tim and I stayed in one of the "historic cabins" which originally housed the CCC recruits. We went to bed at the amazingly early hour of 9:30 and ended up sleeping a whopping 10 hours, almost 50% more than our home average! (In recent years as my energy level has been flagging, Tim has been taking me away occasionally in the hope of recharging my batteries enough to get across the finish line.)
|Waterfall on one of the trails at Giant City|
|One of the "streets" in Giant City|
Hiking is every bit as rejuvenating as sleep, just in a different way, and Giant City and the Shawnee Forest have some great trails!
Giant City takes its name from the "Giant City Streets" formed from huge sandstone bluffs. Trails criss-cross these formations, and you can travel through and over the "streets", marveling at God's handiwork.
|Hiking in winter has its charms!|
For our last hike we drove further west to the Little Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of that hike because I was too busy trying to stay upright. A heavy snow and ice storm had come through the area on Thursday, and while the warm temps on Friday melted a good bit of it, as we went west there was more icy snow, especially in the shady areas. We made two attempts to get into the Little Grand Canyon, a deep box canyon carved in the sandstone, but we were thwarted when we came to the treacherous ice-covered steps on either end leading into the bottom of the canyon. On the plus side, hiking during winter meant we had very little chance of meeting up with any of the copperheads, timber rattlers, or cottonmouths who make their home in the canyon. I think this might be an ideal hike in late fall-early winter when the snakes have become dormant but before the ice has arrived. All in all, the Shawnee National Forest offers some great wilderness adventures and makes for a wonderful weekend getaway!