Long Weekend ….. Long Miles ….. Long Hike …..

We packed so much into the weekend that I should probably still be home recovering!  Good Friday started early as I hauled it up and out before the sun came up to go to Waterfall Glen in Darien, IL.  It’s not too far away but not necessarily close enough to hit too frequently.  I host a run there every Good Friday and Black Friday as an excuse to get the various running communities together and also have a few friendly faces with whom I can run the trail.  Beautiful location.  Beautiful Trails.  Beautiful weather.  Perfect 9.5 mile loop that is challenging for most of us, but still doable.

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The temps were good, high 20s when I got there at 6:30 am and near 50 when I left at 10:30.  This was the day of my last 20 miler for this marathon cycle (Lansing Marathon on 4/21/13) and I made almost 18 miles on the rolling hills before I needed to go home to the kiddos (and subsequently finish those last 2 miles on the treadmill later in the day).

The trail was mostly clear of snow and ice despite our erratic weather this year. And we were blessed with sunshine all day long.  Win!

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2013 Waterfall Glen Good Friday Runners:023

We also had a lot of runners who weren’t able to make the 8am start time (and above photo).  I saw many friendlies on the trail early, who came out to run a few miles or even the entire loop before heading off to work.  Great turnout with lots of new (and old) faces.  Thanks for coming, everyone!  I’ll see you on Black Friday, same time, same spot!!

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This is the first nice weekend we have had this year that was remotely warm without rain.  So I took full advantage of it by hitting another “somewhat” local trial on Saturday, not to run, but instead to let the kiddos burn off some steam hike.  Matthiessen Sate Park is in Utica, IL about a mile past a much more popular hiking arena, Starved Rock State Park.  While Starved Rock gets all the hype and is definitely more commercial and user friendly, Matthiessen is a hidden gem.  Less traffic.  Better hiking.  Amazing sites.  Plus the kids like to get dirty so it’s a total WIN for us!  Thanks to Aby’s friend, Kara for making the trip with us and “helping” out with the little man!!

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The best part about Matthiessen, in my opinion, is the waterfalls.   Some are easy to find, some are slightly hidden.  We even caught a few in a semi frozen state!

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The second best thing about Matthiessen, is the stairs.  Lots of stairs, inclines & bridges. 

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I love this place and try to bring the kids a couple times a year.  Depending on the season and the precipitation levels, the water may be free flowing like it was on Saturday or it can be totally dry like it was on our trip last summer.  Although the trails don’t change, the sites area always different.  Fun times.  The kids love it.  I love it.  We get to spend time outside together.  Win!

Did you do or see anything exciting this weekend?

** Run, Walk, Hike, MOVE ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Matthiessen State Park…..

Each year, the month of August marks our most hectic month of the year as we  squeeze in lots of last minute activities before school starts, we celebrate our anniversary, Aby’s birthday, the start of Cross Country season, the fall festivals begin and we attempt to remain somewhat sane even though the chaos moves at full throttle.

One of my favorite places locally is Matthiessen State Park in Utica, Illinois.  A friend and I just made a short day trip there with our kids on Friday.  I must say it took some guts resolve to go on an adventure like this with 6 kids but they did great!   The first photo starting on the left is:  Kate, Nora, Tommy, Quinn, Michael & Aby.

Mattessien State Park_kids_Aug 2012   Mattessien State Park_kids on rock_Aug 2012

The last time Aby and I were at Matthiessen was right before I became pregnant with Michael in November of 2008.  It’s been a long time, and Aby looks so young in the photos, plus there was water then and in each previous trip but none this time around.

November 2008

Mattessien State Park_Aby & Libby_Nov 2008

August 2012

Mattessien State Park_5_Aug 2012

This trip was quite different than those in the past for many reasons, first we went with another family, second, we didn’t take Libby the Weimaraner and third, the Midwest is experiencing a drought. The normally cool running waters were non-existent.  So while I stupidly hyped the kids for waterfalls and amazing water play, we instead were hiking dry creek beds and able to stand in places were the water is normally deep and flowing fast.  Here is our crew, standing at the top of a dry waterfall which normally would be slippery and non-traversable.

Mattessien State Park_2_Aug 2012

               Here is how it might look on a normal different day.

I do think it was much safer easier for us with less water because it was hard to keep the kids close.  They kept running off without much regard to Amy and I yelling at asking them to stay with us.  So we saw a lot of them from behind but at least we didn’t have to worry about them slipping and drowning falling.

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Kids on top of the bridge “waiting” for us.  Mattessien State Park_kids on bridge_Aug 2012

Overall, it was an amazing trip and I’m so glad that we went.  I like just getting out to let the kids run somewhat free and connect with nature.  I also think that when we return, we will have a greater appreciation for the beauty of the free flowing water which we greatly missed this time around.

This was my favorite photo of the trip.   I love the intricacy of the natural stone work combined with the start of the bridge.

Mattessien State Park_4_Aug 2012

Huge shout out to Amy C. for being brave enough to make the trip to us!

Where is your favorite place to hike?

** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com