Between work and other obligations, this year we broke Spring Break into two trips: our Easter Weekend Roadtrip and a second roadtrip to Southern Illinois (or So iLL, as the climbing company is making that area a hot new topic).
Day 1 involved driving down to Giant City State Park, a location I’d heard good things about and seen some amazing photos. We set up camp and headed over to hike a few of the trails which looked promising on paper. First up was the Devil’s Standtable, one of many unique formations scattered among the bluffs. We had a lot of fun hiking the trail and climbing the bluffs (one of two locations where climbing is permitted in the park) – nothing outrageous, but our little monkeys will happily climb almost anything. The second trail was the Giant City Nature Trail, which winds its way around the bluffs, up and over, and between various sized boulders and canyons. So many side trails, flowers, and scenic views, we were worried we wouldn’t finish before dusk. We made it back safely to the campground, got a great night’s sleep, and woke up ready for more.
Day 2 was planned as a day to boulder at The Holy Boulders, followed by hiking the Little Grand Canyon, sandwiched around lunch at a friend’s restaurant in the area. Storms were forecast for the afternoon, so we made an executive decision to hit the Little Grand Canyon first and forego bouldering, as Tazer and I had been there in November for the Third Testament fundraiser. With limited time, we scrambled down the slick ravine carved out by a stream and down into the floor of the canyon. Much side exploration meant we didn’t get very far in the time we had, but it just means we’ll need to come back for more exploration (not a hardship at all).
We headed to Yellow Moon Cafe in Cobden, definitely a must-stop on any itinerary in this area – they aren’t open every day or even very much, so plan your trip accordingly. Post-lunch we headed over to Lick Creek Beef, a farm that raises grass fed beef and now heritage hogs – the farm is the cafe owner’s brother and father, so we got an in-depth look at their facilities, their cows, dogs, and pigs, but most importantly of all, newborn piglets. It was amazing to see the passion they have for humanely raising these animals – as they said, “We’re only mean to them once.” Immediately after the farm visit, we headed to Fat Patties in Carbondale to try the beef and pork burgers made with Lick Creek meat – YUM! A night at a hotel meant the kids got to indulge in one of their favorite activities, carousing in the pool. All in all a great day.
For a trip of 3 days/2nights, we planned too much and missed a lot of what we wanted to do, but the trip was an amazing addition to the time we’ve spent down in So iLL. We will definitely be back down there to explore more of the amazing things that can be found done there.
See more of the trip’s photos on the Midwest Basecamp Facebook Page.