Bunny here at the keyboard to share my first adventure of the new year with you.
You might recall, if you’ve read the blog for a long time, that we have an annual family tradition of taking a hike on New Year’s Day and this year our hiking tradition continues. We usually hike to see the frozen waterfalls in Starved Rock State Park, but this year, we weren’t certain if the trails to our favorite canyons with waterfalls would be open after some storms this summer resulted in a lot of the trails being closed due to downed trees, so we started looking around for some other possible places to hike.
As it turns out, Starved Rock is now open, but we thought it would be fun to show you some different frozen falls this time, so we went to Matthiessen State Park instead. Matthiessen is nice because it usually has less people there doing silly things like trying to break off parts of the falls and getting in the way. Some other good news is that our research has given us a few new ideas for some other winter hikes in places we haven’t been to, so hopefully we’ll be able to show you those soon.
This time, Küster came along with us since he and Dad are working on a few team building exercises since they haven’t had a lot of training time during the holidays. Morgan stayed at home to keep things safe there, even though she is a better hiking partner for Dad. (Translation: Morgan behaves better on hikes and doesn’t pull on the leash. Did I mention Dad and the Black Tornado were team building?) In any event, we made Küster our official camera dog for the hike out and then I took the video camera for the hike back.
One of the reasons we chose Matthiessen is because a lot of readers requested frozen waterfalls.
There is no shortage of waterfalls there, and it’s a good hike to get to them. This was the first time Flattery has ever hiked there, too, which was both fun and challenging. There are a lot of stairs there and they are open in the back. This doesn’t phase Küster or me in the slightest, but Flatter was a little unsure about them. A couple of times, I had to walk up the steps on my own to join the boys’ team while Mom helped Flattery up the stairs, but we’re professional hikers and we roll with the punches. A few steps wouldn’t have been any trouble, but Matthiessen has A LOT of stairs in a lot of places on the trail. The good news is that by the time we went up the last set of steps, Flattery was taking them like a pro and she and I walked up together with Mom with no problem until the end, when Mom’s asthma got the better of her and she handed Flattery off to the boys’ team. Being the seasoned hiker that I am, I know how to walk along with Mom when the going gets tough.
I’m not going to pee on your leg, though, the funniest part was about walking on the ice. Mom didn’t realize it until we were on the hike, but Flattery has never walked on ice before. In almost all of the parts of the creek, it was frozen really solid and you could walk right over it. I walked right over it without a problem and even walked on it when I could have been walking on the trail. I just like the feel of it under my feet. Flattery looked like a comedy sketch from the ice capades and chose to hop from stepping stone to stepping stone behind Mom or on logs rather than walk on the ice. Dad also had a wipeout where he fell down on the ice, and I’m sad to say that I just missed it with the GoPro. Küs did a good job of checking on him and getting him back on his feet, though.
The waterfalls this year did not disappoint.
Matthiessen has two halves, known as the Upper Dells and the Lower Dells. They’re divided in the middle by Cascade Falls, which is actually prettier in the Spring and Summer. We hiked to the Upper Dells because we knew the waterfalls there would be spectacular. It occurred to us later that we’ve never hiked the Lower Dells in the wintertime, so we might have to go back and give the waterfalls down there a gander. I do know that they are a lovely spot to cool off in the summer as I’ve dipped my toes there on a few occasions.
The weather conditions this year are making for some interesting waterfalls. We passed a few small ones that have no names. We also visited The Giant’s Bathtub and Lake Falls, both of which are pretty awesome no matter what time of year you visit. One of the things that is fun about hiking to see the frozen waterfalls is that they are different every year, but no matter what, they are always beautiful. This year, we made a little video of our hike so you could see some of the waterfalls in a different way than we’ve been able to share them before.
Of course our hike this year was a lot of fun. We had wonderful weather for it and it was nice to have the humans to ourselves after they’ve been so busy with the holidays. Some of us learned new things, but that’s part of what the start of a new year is all about. Whatever you’re hoping for in 2015, we hope that you achieve it and that it’s off to as good a start for you as it is for us! You can see any of the pictures in the gallery below by clicking on it to make it bigger.