Minooka part of prepping for fall

Published 9:28 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fall definitely means football, but it’s my favorite time of the year for another reason, also. Fall means cooler weather, the turning of leaves, the clearing of underbrush—and being out in the woods to enjoy it all.

For most people, that means hunting and fishing. For me, it means hiking—and, this year, I hope, camping.

One of the reasons I got into hiking was the perceived lack of cost to go walk around in the woods for a day. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I bought hiking boots, a rain jacket, a multi-tool and a collapsible bowl for my dog, Molly, last fall, and this year I’ve already bought a tent, a sleeping bag, a sleeping mat and a backpack to carry it all around in.

There are many more purchases to be made before spending the night in the woods, but there’s also the need for physical preparation so I can hike several miles with several pounds on my back after a night spent sleeping on the ground.

I’m probably just as far behind in this category as with my supplies, but I have begun. My first trip of the season was to Minooka Park in Jemison to try out the new hiking trails that have been cut there.

I’ve hiked at Minooka before, on the ATV trails, and had no problems with them. The trails are well worn, as you might imagine, and getting out of the way of ATVs was actually preferable to avoiding bicycles, which sneak up behind you with little or no warning most of the time. Still, it was nice to have trails at Minooka for hiking only.

The trails begin mere feet apart from each other along the walking trail around the lake. From the parking lot at the top of the hill, walk down to the lake, turn left, and the hiking trails begin one- or two-tenths of a mile around the lake. Look for them carefully because; the trails are marked but not easily visible. Both trails go uphill toward the park’s main road and converge within eyesight of that road.

The loop covers probably half a mile. I walked probably two miles during my visit last month and will have to stretch that distance out drastically to be able to make a two-day camping trip later in the year—even if it will be much cooler then.