It’s almost spring, which means a few things — primarily, less snow and more bugs. I took advantage of the fantastic springish weather to revisit one of my favorite trails. I visited the Illinois River Trail a few times (like here and here) over the past couple years and the last time I came, I saw some volunteers clearing up the Shorty Noble Way trail, which begins just over 4 miles from the Illinois River trailhead at Briggs Creek Campground. (Sidenote: someone put some gravel down on Forest Road 4103, which made the trip a lot more pleasant, so thanks, whoever that was. The last half mile or so to the parking is still terrible and requires a four-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance.)
Right off the bat, I made the mistake of leaving my hiking parasol in the car. My skin just barely recovered from the sunburn I got at Crater Lake last week and I knew that this hike didn’t have many trees to protect me, so I had to use my jacket to provide a little shade. Yeah, I coulda used sunscreen, too, but whatever.
I also noticed pretty quickly that there were ticks all around. Grace tends to hover on the edges of the trail, so I constantly had to pick them off of her before they latched on.
As usual, the exposure on this hike is kinda ridiculous. There are parts in which one wrong step would send you tumbling down the gorge to the river below (or probably the rocks). Still, it is absolutely worth the risk.
Around 4.1 miles in, we reached the junction with Shorty Noble Way trail. I didn’t really remember how long the trail was, but I knew that it went straight down to the river below, so I had to prepare myself for a strenuous ascent out. It turns out that it is about one mile long and 600 feet down.
This hike, though difficult, inspired me to perhaps come back next week with my overnight gear. I could set up camp at the top of Shorty Noble and have a base from which to explore the meadows down by the riverside. I still haven’t been to the one at Pine Flat and apparently there was one at this trail’s end, too. To be continued?
If you’re interested in the stats and map and that stuff, here you go: