Cook County Illinois Forest Preserve Hike Des Plaines River Trail

This was the last hike of the year for us, unfortunately, and I’ll explain later.  It was another interesting year with all the hip issues related to leg length, but that has improved greatly with the leg lifts.  Because of all the issues I was hoping to at least reach 1600 miles for the year, but I was able to coast well past that. 🙂  I was also hoping to reach 15,000 total miles accrued, and that was also surpassed. 🙂  All in all, a very nice year and I’m hoping to keep up this pace next year, but we’ll see.

The final tally for this year is as follows:

2019 Total Hikes:  271

2019 Hike Distance:  1881.4 miles  (average 6.94 miles/hike)

2019 Total Elevation Gain:  240,993 feet  (average 889 feet/hike)

Lifetime Hikes:  2048  (since 2008)

Lifetime Hike Distance:  15,299.40  (since 2008)

Lifetime Elevation Gain:  2,278,418 feet  (since 2008)

% of Lifetime Distance Goal:  61.20%  (This will obviously change after 25,000 miles is reached!)

The chart below shows how this year stacks up against previous years, and there’s no complaints here!

2019 Total Hiking Graph


And now on to the hike today!

Hike Distance: 6.7 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1881.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 307 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 240993 feet

This hike wasn’t supposed to happen.  At the last moment we had to cancel a five day vacation to Mt. Vernon, WA, just north of Seattle.   My mother-in-law passed away on Christmas Eve, and we needed to travel to Chicago for the funeral. 😦   This was a very stressful trip and we only had the chance to hike one time, on the Des Plaines River Trail.

The Des Plaines River Trail is an extensive 56 miles long, which is quite impressive, especially for the Chicago area!  We started at a very large parking area at Beck Lake, in Cook County, Illinois.  It is from this area that we took a spur trail and headed west to intersect the Des Plaines River Trail.  Once we intersected the Des Plaines River Trail we headed north until we reached the River Trails Nature Center.  It was a short hike but all we had time to complete, given our schedule to meet people and attend many mourning events for my mother-in-law.

Given the huge population of the Chicago area, this trail was surprisingly empty.  There were a few walkers and bike riders, but they were spaced out.  The weather today was on the warm side, but as you can see from the pictures, the mood is of desolation and very melancholy.  Everything looks dead, since very few evergreens are growing here.  I spent many years, as a teenager, taking black & white pictures of scenery like this.  Memories revisited.

The trail was in exceptional condition and very nice to walk upon.  There were some areas of mud but not a big deal.  If you’ve never been to the midwest, this place will look foreign.  I still find it depressing, much more than the cloudy winters of the PNW.  haha  The Des Plaines River looks as dark and muddy as ever.  Quite the contrast to the PNW where the water is mostly clear.  Even the Columbia River looks very clean compared to the mud laden waters in the midwest.  The mood definitely fit how we all felt, due to the death in the family. 😦

It’s a rare opportunity to get back to my childhood home, and it may not happen again.  I personally have no family left here, and this year saw the loss of both of my wife’s parents.  We have some good friends here, and are hoping they will visit us, but we will likely take a long break from visiting, if nothing else comes up.  Our real home has been in the PNW, for about 40 years, and plane flights are not our favorite, but we’ll see.  I attached a beautiful sunset photo, that I took from the plane, to signify the end to another year.  Happy new year (hopefully) to everyone!



Sunset While Flying Back Home