What do you mean it’s June?!

DSC_3543Well then, for those that read the last update and remember me saying something about April being super busy but May was looking pretty good… I was wrong. May turned out to be pretty packed after all. I took a new position at work so there have been fewer days off with the related training and such. Plus I decided I needed to rehab my deck, so that ate up a couple of the nicer weather days as well.

I almost didn’t make it out on a trail at all last month, but luckily the weather was beautiful over Memorial Day weekend and the wife and I decided to take the girls and one of their friends over to Illinois for some waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park. I’m still processing the photos, but should be posting some of them on Instagram soon. (Here’s a sneak peek.)

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After seeing them with flowing water, it is amazing how massive they can get once they are frozen. That park truly is two completely different parks when you compare them winter to summer. (This is the same waterfall.)

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With the help of the WordPress staff I was able to get the map section to work. I plotted out the parks on my list in Google Maps so you can scroll around and zoom in and out to find parks that you may be curious about, or didn’t know existed. If I have posted a trail report for a particular park you should be able to click the link and go straight to the post to read about it.

June isn’t looking much better for getting out, but I have the last weekend off. Here’s hoping the sunshine holds, the temps dip back down into the 70’s or 80’s, and my honey-do list remains empty! Now come July, I am finally using some vacation and taking some time off work to explore some new places. Super excited!

I’m only about 25 miles into my 214 mile goal for the year, it’s time to take the camera for a walk.

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The May Update

Well it’s May already, and like I predicted, my busy month of April didn’t allow for much hiking work. I was able to get two hikes posted; Rock Creek State Park and FW Kent County Park, as well as the YouTube video for Rock Creek. Not only have I been super busy this month, but the sterotypical April showers have been in full effect! weather.jpg

(Is that SNOW on May 1st? Gotta love the midwest…)

Contract: IA Park: 610107Luckily I was able to sneak in a hike at Dolliver State Park in between rain clouds. A really nice little park over by Ft Dodge.

May is looking to be far better in terms of opening up my schedule. That means I should be able to finish catching up on my backlog of hike data, and get back out on those trails as often as I’d like to be!

Not a whole lot to comment on this update since I didn’t have a very eventful April. Hopefully these spring showers subside and leave room for those photogenic May flowers to bloom!

FW Kent County Park

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FW Kent Google MapFW Kent County Park is located just northwest of Iowa City.

Kent Park is a neat little place with a lot more variety than I initially anticipated. There has been a lot of work put into this park, which made for a very enjoyable hike.

FW Kent Trail Map.jpgI hiked the park with my wife in two parts; we hiked the east loop then drove over to hike one of the west loops. On the website they have two different maps; the one above, minus the trails on the east side of the park, and one that only has the east trails. I took out a marker and filled in the east trails for the one I used during our hike. I just drew them in using Paint for this. The orange lines are the routes we took. (They really should just update their map to have one comprehensive map…)

As you can see, the complete trail system can be connected if you choose to do some road walking. Our hike was a little over 6 miles, and I suspect you could stretch that out another 4 miles at least, if not 5.

DSC04508We started our hike at the Conservation Education Center (orange star) and checked out some of the natural science items they had inside. Then we stepped out and started on the nice little nature loop they had just to the north. I could easily see taking baby girl there so she could play inside and go for a short stroll to check out anything that decided to come out. Once we finished that loop the eastern trail began at the parking lot. Now the first section on the furthest eastern edge of the park was really the only mundane portion of the hike. It was a simple straight line of mowed grass that had a constant gradual descent to it as we headed south.

Which meant that once we hit the southernmost point and began our return north, it was a steady climb. In all honesty, the park is made up of rolling hills aside from that easternmost trail. The view was nice though.

DSC04516As we continued north we began to see more and more ponds, full of croaking frogs and algae. Some of them were quite pretty with the bold greens contrasting with the rich blue skies. There were also a couple bridges along the route that always causes my wife’s mood to perk up. While the east loop did mainly stick to being grass, a few spots did turn into a worn trail in the more wooded sections.DSC04545

DSC04528We discussed how we wanted to proceed with the next section after we got back to the car and opted just to hit up the lake loop. So we drove around the north road and parked at the Twin Fawns Picnic Area (red star). It was a good descent down to the lake (we should have just driven down to the lake and parked at the beach {green star}).

DSC04577Once we hit the actual Lake Loop we both agreed that this was by far the best trail in the park. The park service has put a lot of work into that area of the park. It makes sense as it is the main draw after all. Like I mentioned just second ago, there is a nice beach on the southern side of the lake, and on the north end you have all of the camping and picnic areas. So it is only natural that they build up that part of the park for park visitors.

DSC04591The trail was a very nice crushed limestone, but the neatest part was all of the bridges. Which my wife was super excited about, it is literally her favorite thing about hiking. What makes these bridge unique, is that they are all reclaimed bridges from other parts of Iowa. There is a pretty large one that the Iowa National Guard flew in under a Chinook helicopter. The day we were going through a wedding party was getting their pictures taken in front of that bridge, so we had to wait a bit before we could sneak through. From there we crossed over the dam and moseyed back up north to the car.

DSC04604When you make your visit to FW Kent Park you should always bring food, water, and a map, and the other map. The 6+ miles took my wife and me 2.5 hours. Now you can hike as little as a couple of miles to almost 12, so bring more than you need if you are going long (better to have too much than not enough). If you’re just going for a walk around the lake, then yes, you don’t really need anything. Just be aware of your abilities and related needs. There really isn’t anything difficult about this park unless you’re not ready to push yourself on a longer distance.

DSC04583Once again my wife and I really enjoyed ourselves at FW Kent County Park and will give it another go. It was a very pleasant hike on a beautiful day. I hope you find yourself circling it on your map of places to check out.

DSC04571Thanks for reading!

(P.S. If there is a bridge in the picture, my wife had the camera.)

Holy Cow, it’s April!

dsc_2638Well March flew by in a hurry. That’s what happens when you’re working a lot I suppose. Remember those snowshoes I was complaining about never getting to use since I bought them? Well, the only hike I got to do this month was a quick and short snow stomp in those snowshoes on the one day we’ve had snow since December! Just kind of plodded around looking for a photo on a gray day, but I definitely had fun trying out something new.

img_3394img_3395img_3397Throughout the month I pumped out a lot of my backlog of data. To recap: Briggs Woods County Park, Wildcat Den State Park, Ledges State Park, Wapsipinicon State Park, Elk Rock State Park, Pikes Peak State Park (Iowa), Lacey-Keosauqua State Park, A discussion on Footwear, and Cruisin’ the Upper Iowa River were all posted in March. Also, I got a couple more YouTube videos completed and uploaded: Elk Rock State Park and Lacey-Keosauqua State Park.

Looking into the future, the month of April is going to be another month of heavy working. I am hoping a window will open up that will allow me to sneak off and finally forget about the stress of life for a bit; but if the weather remains the same, it is going to be one wet spring… Until then I have plenty of backlog left to tell you about. I have 13 more hikes to write trail reports on, and 9 of those have videos to edit. All of which I really need to get working on before I start to add to that backlog in the coming year! Once again, the plan for the year is an ambitious one!

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So far I’m off to a slow start, but as you can see, the miles will start ramping up once I can finally get out on the trails regularly. You can bet I’m checking the weather for every day-off I have coming up as well. While I’m waiting in limbo for that next clear day, I’ll be cleaning out my hiking cabinet to check over any gear that hasn’t seen much use. You never know when an impromptu camping trip can surface, not to mention a couple of the multi-park “tours” involve an overnight.

Gotta always be prepared for adventure! May our free time involve blue skies overhead soon!

An Item coming in the future, the March update.

So a few people have started asking what types of gear I use when I go hiking. Since I am kind of writing reviews of the places I visit, it wouldn’t be a big stretch to just simply write reviews for the gear I take into the woods. I still have a lot of trails to catch up on, so those will take priority.

Camping GearHowever, since the weather is attempting to be hospitable it won’t be much longer before the hiking season is upon us. With that in mind, there will hopefully be some new hikers looking to stretch their legs. They may want to know the types of gear they should be looking at since it can be intimidating when you discover there are 3 gillion different options available. So I am going to try to start posting some gear reviews of the more general use items like packs before the weather gets too irresistible and people want to get out in it.

If there is a reader new to hiking and curious about some specific kinds of gear, you can always request it in the comments section of this post and I’ll try to prioritize getting those reviews out first. Now I can only really review items I own, so I won’t be able to talk to specific brands or models and such, mostly the gear type; packs, poles, jackets, shoes, etc. I also don’t have any real winter gear aside from clothing… and brand new, unused, sitting in their storage bag, wishing for snow, snowshoes.

img_0155Moving on; my model for posting trail reports has already changed as my original design isn’t working the way I’d hoped. Initially my idea was to write up the hikes without video footage first, and then sprinkle in the write ups with footage as I posted the YouTube videos. Well, the YouTube videos are taking far longer to put together than I had hoped… So, I will start treating the two as separate entities and simply write up everything I have “on file” and post the YouTube videos as I can complete them. I’ll announce in these monthly posts what new vids I posted since the last update so interested readers can go and watch. If you want to keep up to date on them you can always subscribe to the channel and mark you want notified of uploads, then you’ll get an email from YouTube letting you know of a posting. (Picture for those new to YouTube.)sub.jpg

That’s what’s new for now. Looking forward to getting out on the trails!

1st Hike of the Year Complete!

dsc_2343Well here we are at the begining of February, and I’ve been waiting to get out on my brand new snowshoes since I bought them this summer! Well yeah, it has snowed once, in December, a whopping 2-3 inches, and then melted… ugh. However, the unusual warm temps finally landed on a day off where I had no plans and the sun was out in full. I had to get out. So I went off to my local park, Palisades State Park, for a short walkabout looking for something to shoot with my camera.

dsc_2265It was a good little hike and I got to test out some new camera gear I’ve gotten over the past few months. I definitely felt how inactive I’ve been, having not gotten out since Halloween. There was still enough of a chill in the air to remind me that we are in a winter month, I think… but the chunks of ice along the beach did confirm that Iowa does still have a winter. Even though there weren’t a whole lot of photo ops jumping out at me, I did find a few things that attracted my interest.

dsc_2382Speaking of editing; I started looking over my data to see how much I have to do yet. Currently I still have 29 more parks to write about, with 16 of those having video footage to be edited as well. So there is plenty of content to come, and that’s before I start on my 214 mile goal of new parks coming up this year. It felt great to get out again! 2017 hiking has begun, time to start hitting more trails.

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