|The view from our campsite|
|Failed group selfie #1|
On Sunday morning, Zach and I did something we haven’t done since September 29th, 2014— we went camping! Yes, I know it’s strange that a couple people who camped every night for almost five months straight would go for a year and a half without sleeping under the stars... but actually, maybe it’s not that strange.
|Failed group selfie #2|
The trip was the suggestion of my brother Christian, and since my sister Mary was also in town from California, and since Zach is now often getting two days in a row off (which is AMAZING), we were able to swing it. We packed Christian’s car to the gills and set off for Pere Marquette State Park, a family favorite for hiking.
We stopped first at the Olin Nature Preserve in Godfrey, Illinois, which I had never even heard of until I spotted a listing in the Great River Road tourist guide. This parcel of private land, open to the public, is a lovely place to hike, featuring a series of interconnected trails that feature oak woodland, views of the Mississippi River, small picturesque streams, and little waterfalls. If you’re looking for a leisurely day hike in the St. Louis area, I highly recommend it!
|Before anyone asks... no, I'm not pregnant. I'd just eaten too many croissants that morning.|
Next we drove to Pere Marquette, and hiked the longest loop of trails available, tracing the well-worn (and very muddy) paths that we’ve been hiking since we were kids. It’s still my favorite hiking spot in the St. Louis area.
I had never actually camped at Pere Marquette before, but it turns out the sites are quite nice: we found a secluded spot on a hill underneath some locust trees, with a picnic table, a water pump, plenty of flat spaces for tents, and a tennis court about a hundred yards away. (Not to mention the Lodge just a two-minute walk away, which has a very nice restaurant.) All this for $10 a night!
|Our brand new tent (we killed our old one on the PCT)|
We set up our tents, played tennis for a while, made a gigantic bonfire, cooked brats and marshmallows, and chatted until stars spangled the sky. That night I laid down on my slightly-deflated sleeping pad and stared up at the stars twinkling through the mesh.
I had forgotten how much I missed sleeping under an open sky.