Bunny here at the keyboard, writing about an adventure we had this weekend.
Normally, winter is one of the times we do a lot of hiking. However, this winter has been so cold and brutal that we haven’t been out on a real hike since New Year’s Day. This weather has really been putting a kink in my Idita Walk minutes. We all have more than a touch of cabin fever.
Saturday morning, Dad and Küster had training, but when they came back, I learned that a plan was afoot for a girls’ hiking day. I was pretty excited and so was Morgan. Flattery wasn’t entirely sure that she wanted to be out in the cold, but I told her that she’d be glad she went. I know she didn’t believe me, but she hopped up in the car because she didn’t want to be left behind. This was her first winter hike with us, so she didn’t know what she was in for.
Our hiking destination was Starved Rock State Park.
Starved Rock is one of our favorite places to hike, but we wanted to try hiking in a different part of the park. This time, we chose the Ottawa and Kaskaskia Canyons to hike through. They both have waterfalls along the way and neither of them have stairs, which was important to Mom and Dad since Flattery isn’t so good with those yet. After spending a little time getting our gear on, it was time to hit the trail.
For people who are wondering, Flattery and I dress for hiking as a way of staying protected from the weather, not just to look good. When you have less than ten percent body fat and short fur with no undercoat, it’s hard to regulate your body temperature. It doesn’t hurt that we look good when we’re out hiking, but that’s not the main reason for it. This is the first year that I’ve really worn my boots much for hiking, but I am really glad to have them this year. I really think Flattery needs a pair of her own, but Mom says we have to save some money first. She seemed pretty happy with the pink one, though. Mom wasn’t sure how she’d be hiking in them, but she did fine and didn’t lose a single one, which is pretty impressive.
I’m not going to lie to you. Morgan was embarrassing. She barked and threw a fit and as we got started on the trail, I was afraid Dad might bury her in a snowbank and leave her there. It didn’t help that we kept passing hoards of people all coming back off the trail on our way out, either. Fortunately, after we got past the first part of the trail, it got wider and there were less people. Morgan started to settle down some and then Dad got excited when he saw the last group of people go past with climbing gear. There were people climbing the frozen waterfalls. We were hoping we’d luck out and see more people down there when we got to it.
As it turned out, we saw a lot of unexpected sights on our hike.
When we made it to the end of the Ottawa Canyon, the waterfall there was spectacular. There weren’t many people there when we arrived, but there was a man who was a professional photographer there. To our great surprise, he even asked us to pose under the waterfall in some of his pictures. He liked Dad and Morgan’s red coat and backpack and took their picture first. Then, he took a few pictures of Flattery and me with Mom. He especially liked Flattery’s ensemble and said it would make for good pictures. I sure am glad that our winter gear is functional AND fashionable. After just a picture or two, though, a big group of people arrived in the canyon. We waited, but they didn’t show much sign of leaving soon.
To our great excitement, however, there was a group of three people who arrived and they were planning to climb the frozen waterfall. They were being really slow about getting ready, though, so we decided to go hike up the Kaskaskia Canyon trail and see what was back there. It is a pretty short hike from the Ottawa Canyon, so we figured we’d just hike back after seeing the Kaskaskia falls and see if we could see the ice climbers then. There was a small frozen waterfall at the end of the Kaskaskia Canyon with a log in it. That was one giant Popsicle. Flattery and I posed by it a little and then started hiking back.
To our surprise, we ran into the photographer and his wife on the trail.
He asked us if the waterfall in Kaskaskia was very pretty and we told him it was pretty small. It’s not too much taller than Dad and you can’t walk behind it. We told him that, and he asked if we’d be willing to go back to the Ottawa Canyon and take some more pictures. I am a professional model, so I was quite game for it, and Flattery is a model in training, so she was pretty excited, too.
When we got back, sure enough, the people were climbing the frozen waterfall with ice picks. Mom got one picture of them, but then her camera battery died. It was probably because of the cold. Anyway, I was glad we got at least one picture to show of it on the blog. We’ve been hiking in Starved Rock for several years and this is the first time we’ve ever seen people climbing the waterfalls. It was a lot of fun to watch them, although I’m not sure it’s something I’d want to try. That ice is pretty cold and slippery.
I can say without a doubt that I am glad we went out on our hike.
We’ve been to Starved Rock a lot of times, but this is the first time we’ve hiked through those canyons in winter. It was really beautiful, and after how harsh Mother Nature has been this winter, it was nice to see that she still creates things that are so magical. We met new people and dogs on the trail who were interesting and friendly. We also got to experience some new sights that we’ll remember for a long time. It was nice to be reminded that even during this time while the Earth is asleep there is still life just under the surface. I’m also glad that I can share it with a lot of people who wouldn’t get to see it otherwise.
We’re still looking forward to spring in our corner of the world, but there’s always some beauty in the world if you are willing to look for it. I’m glad I get to see so much of it for myself. Here’s hoping you got to enjoy something beautiful this weekend that made your heart a little warmer, too.