This weekend I decided to hike to my hike. The local woods are about 1.5-2 miles from my house and the extra bit of exercise would be good for me. I loaded up some very basic gear, grabbed a bottle of water and my hiking stick, and headed out. Along the way I spent some time investigating the woods along the bank of the river. I also have long wondered about a section of woodland I pass every day taking the kids to school.
Yesterday I stopped someone and asked a few questions and found out the place is called “The Sanctuary,” has public access, and has no trails to speak of. Sounded like just the thing after a fairly busy weekend down in the city.
This property belongs to the Forest Preserve District but appears to be left to natural development. Often the woodland is managed to remove excess understory which will prevent the canopy trees from flourishing. This area had an extremely thick understory of 2-3″ diameter saplings and smaller trees.
The terrain is slightly undulating and has enough shallow depressions and slight bumps to knock the starch out of the legs. This on top of a very short night made for some very tired legs.
The Sanctuary is adjacent to residential property on the North and the main access road to the forest preserve on the South with enough woodland to completely swallow up a lone hiker. In other words, I can go in far enough to be concealed from the access road and the residences. If I’d thought far enough ahead to bring my hammock I might’ve made a night of it…or at least a nice little nap.
There’s something about the crunch of leaves underfoot and the frequent scampering of squirrels and chipmunks running about looking for food to store away. This is, however, the kind of woodland that can give an unprepared hiker the creeps. With no trails to follow and the heavy understory it is extremely easy to get turned around. It’s less than a mile (I suspect) in any direction to paved roads but running through the woods in a panic rarely happens in a straight line.
I found some more musclewood and these particular examples would make excellent hiking sticks. I almost lost mine (pictured) later in the day as I propped it against a tree to take a picture of something and then walked off without it.
This is the picture I was taking. My Northstar has custom Tan Fern Fibermascus handle slabs put on by the boys at Bark River Knife & Tool some time back. The slabs go all the way up to the plunge line allowing a more forward grip and a more comfortable grip for those with larger hands.
This is a knife that has seen quite a bit of work over the past two years. It carries well, cuts great, is light and comfortable, and has been a great value. I may not carry it always but I sure do seem to carry it often. With the introduction of the Aurora just around the corner this one may be officially “retired” but, seeing how it has survived the arrival of several other knives, I suspect it’ll just see less frequent rotation.
I walked far enough that I could see the access road and so I turned West to head for the North Loop Trail. Just as soon as I found the trail I also found (and surprised) a nice buck that had been leaving scrapes, rubs, and sign all over. He and I had very little distance between us and it was clear that he was so distracted he hadn’t heard me coming.
There’s plenty more to talk about but this post has already gotten pretty darned long…I’ll save the rest for later.
Thanks for reading,