With Spring Break long gone and the permanent Monday Blues setting in, it’s time to start thinking about sunny days and hiking trails. Whether your kind of fun involves twig-scratched hairy legs or man made roads, there is something for everyone to look forward to. Only 6 more weeks of classes left!
We all know tuition leaves our wallets a little thinner and our bank accounts with less zeros to the left (if you know what I’m saying), so what’s one to do with little money and still enjoy all spring and summer have to offer? Being a minimalist, voluntary simplest, or anything else of the sorts, it’s common to love the outdoors. I can’t bring myself to stay away from warm sunny days and fresh air. Sure the internet and Netflix are almost free, but that’s something most do all winter.
It’s spring and the perfect time to invest in some outdoor gear and hit the dirt. If you’re a little bit less of the outdoorsy type, stay on the cement paved roads and designated bike paths. They are sure to be less ‘messy’ and a great way to get your Vitamin D and fresh air.
Say you like some adventure, but don’t want to spend nights out on rocky floors and mosquito infested campgrounds, daily hiking trails are for you. Some of the top locally rated ones are Starved Rock and Loud Thunder.
We won’t go to extremes like hiking the entire Appalachian Scenic Trail (though on my bucket list) that clocks in just over 2,000 miles, but if you’re more than just the typical adventurous type — weekend backpack trips are right up your alley. There isn’t much hiking nearby, hence the weekend backpacks. Yellow River State Forest is probably the only decent place to hike within a few hours of the Quad Cities. I am sure there are others, but none I have found so far.
Typically day hikes or bike paths will cost you nothing to hike, bike, or walk. Some parks may charge a parking fee but these are just mere change jars. Weekend Backpacks may cost you a few more but it comes in hundreds under what a weekend in Chicago will cost you. At most, backpackers are looking at $20 a night to hike and camp on the trails or at campsites. Not bad for a lake/riverfront view.
When it comes to backpacking, hiking, or camping, I will say I am not the most experienced or highly trained hiker. I do have a few essentials you need to take with you on any hike. Whether it’s an hour hike or a 3 day backpack, you need these items.
#1 Water — essential to all life and you will be sweating a lot out.
#2 Food — because no one like to hike hangry and no one likes to be around someone that’s hangry, take it from the most hangry person ever created.
#3 Knife — doesn’t need to be machete size or anything just something to protect yourself and one of the most versatile tools there is.
#4 Flashlight/ matches — sometimes your hike takes a lot longer than expected, come prepared if it gets dark out.
#5 Hat — Ticks and other bugs can be especially bad under heavily forested areas. Protect yourself from Lyme Disease and bugs in general by wearing a hat.
#6 First Aid — Okay this doesn’t need to be ambulance approved but if you get a cut and need a bandaid or get stung by a bee, you want to have something to treat your wounds. Maybe a blister decides to pop up because they like to do that from time to time.
So, where to put all these necessities? Invest in a lightweight backpack. I am not talking a traditional school bookbag. I mean something that is made for the trails and your back and won’t deplete your savings account anymore. You can definitely get something from Amazon or Walmart for less than $20. It will last you years. It’s always better to go over-prepared than under.
Enjoy one of my most coveted passions of the spring and summer season. Nothing will make you feel better than a day spent out on the trails, not even Facebook.