In early October, Weston and I were itching to go on a hike. The weather here was crazy nice for this time of year, so we tried to take advantage of it as much as possible! Dennis and I found a child carrier at a garage sale last summer and we've only been able to use it a handful of times and I wanted to get some experience getting Weston in and out by myself as well as hiking with him on my back. By the way, REI has some great tips on purchasing and using child carriers. We love to take Knox with when we can, so I wanted to take him too.
Adventures like this can be hit or miss, so I thought it would be best to find a short trail to practice on. So, I packed a lunch and we headed over to the Leroy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles. Natural features in this forest preserve include original and restored prairies, some woodland areas, and a creek. Cultural features include the Durant House Museum (representing the lifestyle and the furnishings of the 1840's); Pioneer Sholes Schoolhouse ( a one-room country schoolhouse); and the Creek Bend Nature Center-so it as a nice variety of things to see, hear, and explore. There is a short little trail dirt trail that starts behind the Creek Bend Nature Center that we followed to the point where it ends up on the map.
However, it kept going,
so we just kept following it! We found a sweet little spot to throw rocks in the creek- Weston's favorite outdoor activity- and continued on into a little wooded spot and came out on the North Ring Route Tral and just circled back to the parking lot.
The route we took (outlined below) was maybe about 3/4 a mile, and took about an hour- but we spent some time throwing rocks in the creek and talking about what types of trees, plants, animals, and bugs we saw. It was a great way for me to practice handling the dog and getting Weston in and out of the pack by myself. We weren't too far from the parking lot if it ended up going south, with me having to carry both Weston and Knox back (which I had to do once when Knox escaped out of the house!) which thankfully it didn't! Knox loves to sniff through everything in the woods and Weston loves to throw rocks and point out and talk to everything (Hi trees! Hi leaves! Hi bugs!) so it was perfect!
We got back to the parking lot, grabbed our lunch, and headed down towards the creek. I tied Knox to the carrier and he was none the wiser! Thank goodness. He'd probably still be out there with the pack if he figured out all he had to was run to be free!
I'm excited to explore more here when the weather gets nicer. There are nine miles of trails including the trailhead to the Great Western Trail, which was constructed on an abandoned railway from St. Charles to the Dekalb County Line. A Trail Map can be downloaded here.
This little trip is one of my best memories of 2015. We has such a fun, relaxing morning and did I mention the weather was beautiful! Ever since this day, Weston has woken up at least once a week and asked to go "Mommy, Weston, hiking." We'll have plenty of chances, little buddy. Hope you guys will join us!