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A Song of Ice & Hot Tubs • Shawnee National Forest

Posted on January 09 2018


Shawnee National Forest • Winter • Herod, Illinois


You can find video and gallery at the bottom of the post, but get all of the above with this immersive blend of all the things. We’re leveling up, Gaardians.

A Song of Ice & Hot Tubs

It seems to now be tradition that we end up in a hot tub in the middle of the Shawnee National Forest in January.


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Last year it was just Blademaiden, on the back end of a Reuzel teaching trip, but this time, the Beardsgaards did Shawnee together. And NOT for work. Sort of. You are reading this post, after all. One of these two has a little trouble shutting off.


No, it’s the less furry one

For some, a vacation is going somewhere and doing nothing. For us, it’s going explorin’. If we need 10 layers of clothing because of the sub-zero temperatures, so be it. There’s magic to be found, especially when it’s awful out and no one else is around.


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Lucky for us we had our topo map and know how to use it, because we let that big hunk of majestic rock lure us off the trail a little bit, and with the heavy leaf fall, we had a little trouble picking it back up again. And the sun was going down fast right about then on 3,30 acres of wilderness.


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We did make it into the woods, and out of the woods, and home before dark, though. After a well-earned snack at sunset on a cliff’s edge. Then back in the hot tub again right after that.


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While most, even those who live here, think of Illinois as one of the flattest places on earth (much of it is naught but cornfields, after all), but there are other parts too. Carved by glaciers and ancient inland seas, this place gives a little taste of mountains to those in a place where there is nothing of the kind.


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Spanning 289,000 acres, Shawnee National Forest is nestled in Southern Illinois between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, the hike between which is the River to River Trail. It features strikingly beautiful oak-hickory forests, flourishing wetlands, lush canyons, razorback ridges and unique geological features. A rare convergence of six natural ecological regions results in a diversity of plant and animal species.


We urge you to pay it a visit sometime. We certainly will again.


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Where is your favorite place to hike far away from humans in your home state?



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