First hike of 2016: A good start

Well, maybe “walk” is a better term. A fast walk, I suppose.

Regardless of what it is called, it was an unusually beautiful February day. 55F, sunny, with just the occasional brisk gust in an otherwise lightly breezy day. I don’t like feeling “cooped up” inside, and the trails around me can be challenging to hike with snow on them (not that it’s stopped me before). But I have made other decisions regarding how to spend my time this year so far.

Today presented me with a lovely opportunity to change that calculus.

Monee Reservoir, sunny warm winter day

A pretty good photographic representation of the day: Sunny, warm, but definitely still winter.

I took it.

I knew I needed to take it easy, given what adverse things my knee can do when it is still cool outside and I hike for more than 2-3 miles. But the warmth was invigorating, and so I set off on  pretty good pace.

I should point out that my usual go-to hiking app – MyTracks – will be discontinued in April of this year. So I tried a new one that some other backpackers recommended to me, Endomondo. It’s okay, but I preferred MyTracks. Still, this new one gave me sufficient information to know what I was doing and had done when finished.

Me in front of tall cattails

A selfie in front of some 8-9 feet tall cattails.

My max speed was 4.16 mph, not shabby considering I wasn’t using hiking sticks today. I did have on a lightweight daypack, with only 7 pounds of food and water in it (all things I didn’t end up needing anyway). And average speed was 2.53 mph. I only hiked for a little over an hour, and total distance was not quite 3 miles. I figured it was a good chance to hike “long enough” without overdoing it, and just sort of get back into a bit of a groove.

I think I’ll have to hike a bit farther next time.

I was also able to try a new lens I got for Christmas – a Canon 55-250mm zoom. The photo below is somewhat cropped, but I’m pretty happy with how that turned out. I probably should have used the image stabilization, but even without it, I don’t think that’s too bad. The sun was bright, so the lighting was harsh. Thank goodness for Photoshop to tweak contrast and brightness somewhat.

Geese ice fishing

The geese were feeding in the open areas of the water outside of the iced-over sections.

Overall, the hike felt really good. I liked my pacing, stopping only really to take photos or re-tie my boots, and slowing down a bit towards the end because I felt my back starting to sweat from the pack. I had already unzipped my fleece jacket and inner, thin fleece top, so I pulled up the sleeves on both, and slowed slightly. Back near the trailhead, I did stop for a while to take photos of the geese there. Two were walking next to each other as I approached, and they reminded me of my wife and I as we hike.

When I showed the photo to my wife later and told her what I’d thought, she gave me that endearing “Awwww…”.

The geese version of me and Ang hiking

Awww, indeed.

I won’t let the cold stop me from now on. I have the right gear. I just need to get myself out there and hike… or walk.



3 thoughts on “First hike of 2016: A good start

  1. Yes, the weather on Saturday was such a tease! I love hiking too and recently moved to Illinois from California so the whole winter hiking thing is new to me. I finally decide to give it a try last week when it was about 40 degrees outside. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad!


    • I am definitely NOT a cold weather person. But I’ve discovered that it’s actually not bad at all with two things 1) The right clothing and 2) continually moving. I didn’t have the right clothing for a long time, which explains why I didn’t like the winter hiking, but I kind of enjoy it now when I do it. It’s all about layering and not having cotton. So even though it will cool off this weekend, I’ll probably get out again. Glad you found that it’s not bad with the cooler temps too!

      BTW, I noticed your post about Inspiration Kitchens; one of my good friends is one of the chefs there.


      • Yes, I will be getting the right gear so I can do more winter hikes!

        Also, it’s really cool that a friend of yours is a chef at Inspiration Kitchens. It’s such a great restaurant!


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