Unfortunately, working in the west suburbs of Chicago means it's quite a ways to the next decent backpacking trail. Widely known trails are half a country away, but luckily for me, Illinois has a well kept secret within its southern reaches. My next adventure is a traverse of the "Land of Lincoln". Twice.
The River to River Trail, a small section of the sizable American Discovery Trail, spans roughly 160 miles of the southern portion of Illinois. A connection of paths and roads travels from the Mississippi River to the Ohio River by way of the Shawnee National Forest. Little information is available on the trail, but what I have found has been roughly compiled on the River to River Trail Yo-yo page.
Getting back to the planning stages of a backpacking trip is a relief; It's been too long since I've done a proper thru-hike. So far I've got two under my belt: the Timberline Trail '12 and Pacific Northwest Trail '14. It's time to add to the list, and with so many trails scattered across America, the options are endless.
Im gathering gear and planning meals and intend to leave on March 22nd for the 5.5 hour drive down to Grand Tower, IL. Here I will leave the car behind and hike 300+ miles out to the Ohio River and back. Hooray for getting time off work! While I'm out there, I will be doing a bit of gear testing for gearinstitute.com as well.
After the hike, it's on to Rothschild, WI for the Ice Age Trail Alliance's 2016 Conference where I will network and gather beta for my Ice Age Trail Winter Thru-Hike. The future looks bright! Just moving towards my dream: The National Trails System Thru-Hike.