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2013 Trailspace on the Shawnee...

Tried doing this a little while back, and I don't think I gave people enough time to plan...

I'd love to have as many TS members as possible get together on the Shawnee National Forest (Southern Illinois) this fall for a backpacking trip...I'm thinking early October: No bugs, not humid, leaf change, 60's in the day & 40's at night.

I'm up for just about anything as far as mileage, duration, and location goes, though I'm super-partial to the River-to-River Trail.

What say you?

P.S.--If you climb, bring shoes and a chalk-bag...and get ready for some of the best sandstone boulders this side of the pond...

OK...Here's my first pitch:

Start: RTRT @ Panther's Den Wilderness, heading East

End: Jackson Falls

Duration: 4 days, 3 nights

Passing through Ferne Clyffe State Park, Past Dutchman Lake, through Tunnel Hill State Park and the infamous Max Creek Vortex--bring your crystals!--with a short detour off the RTRT at the end to do some climbing at Jackson Falls and catch the shuttle car.

I have no interest in rock climbing but I do on the backpacking.

 I know nothing about this trail so any idea when you may be planning this and how many miles per day.  Also what would be the best place to google so I could get an idea on how far of a drive I would have from Nashvile, Tn

Ewker said:

I have no interest in rock climbing but I do on the backpacking.

 I know nothing about this trail so any idea when you may be planning this and how many miles per day.  Also what would be the best place to google so I could get an idea on how far of a drive I would have from Nashvile, Tn


You're 2hrs 45 minutes southeast of Fern Clyffe State Park.,+TN&daddr=Ferne+Clyffe,+90+Office+Drive,+Goreville,+IL+62939&hl=en&sll=37.534209,-88.984522&sspn=0.03689,0.084543&geocode=FQvcJwIdm8rT-ik9kOsTMuxkiDGg2umh0Lk_fQ%3BFWSnPAIdBjuy-imTSmpfMUR3iDHN083X5dbVwg&oq=nash&mra=ls&t=m&z=8

I'd be driving the same distance from the northwest.

The R2R is hilly for Illinois, but we're not talking AT hiking. Some folks do the entire trail (160 miles) in 1 week. I did 1/2 the trail last March in 5 days.

October 18-21 is the only 4-day weekend I can pull off that month. And, yes, if we can make it October 18-21, you can count me in.

Panther Den is a gorgeous area. I have a contact who lives near Fern Clyffe. We might be able to arrange a shuttle car with him.

I rappel and ascend ropes to get into caves. I run a high ropes challenge course, with a nice climbing gym. I know my way around a rope, but rock climbing is not my thing, at least not enough to add rope and gear to my pack. If others want to climb, I might be persuaded.

Let me throw this out, my hiking buddy from Texas takes Amtrak to Carlinville, IL and we carpool to Shawnee. I'd be happy to split gas with one or two or 5 people. (You can also take Amtrak directly to Carbondale, IL from Chicago, Memphis, & New Orleans)

Jeff, unfortunately your dates won't work for me. We will be up in Northern Va for a hammock hangers hang that weekend. The following weekend I have plans to be a Meriwether Lewis National Monument off the Natchez trace for a hang. 

I could also do September 21 & 22. Otherwise, I need to jump into mid-November.

I work any weekend I have a booking.

New to the site...planning a thru-hike of the RTRT one week in September...if I am not otherwise committed I'd love to join a group hike. My hiking style tends to be on the fast and light side of things...but I really just like being outdoors. FYI...not much into rock-climbing...but I'll watch! I'll try to keep an eye on this thread in the next weeks and see if anything comes of it.

Also...anyone know what's up with the RTRT Society's web-page? I would like to become a volunteer/member...but the group seems not to exist online anymore?

jrenow said:

Also...anyone know what's up with the RTRT Society's web-page? I would like to become a volunteer/member...but the group seems not to exist online anymore?

 They are not the most tech-savvy group. Their mailing address is 1142 Winkleman Road, Harrisburg, Illinois 62946.

Or you can try I don't think this email is specific to R2R, but it would be a start.

Thanks sent...we'll see how it goes:-)

@ jrenow: let me know if you want any company along your trip...I've got the fitness, motivation and kit to put in a few 30-mile days with you.

Otherwise, for the group thing, I think a more leisurely pace of 6-10 mile days would be what I'd shoot for...more time to set up camp and chat around a fire...

I can do late September, November, any time, really...I live just a few miles from the "best" leg of the RTRT.

Rick, owner/manager of Shawnee Trails Wilderness Outfitters (in Carbondale) makes it his business to keep up to date on whats going on with the RTRT...give him a call if you need guidebooks/information: (618) 529-2313

Vince, you might want to start a new thread in the "Events" forum. I think it's getting lost in Trip Planning.

I would pick a date and announce it. Maybe it should just be a Friday night-Sunday afternoon thing to attract more people? If not, I'm willing to stare at you from across a campfire.

As I said earlier, I need either October 18-20 or something in mid-November. 

Pillow...the thru-hike is going to be a solo affair...but I would be up for trips in the 2-3 day range anytime I am free (probably had plans to go anyways). I generally enjoy walking and being outdoors at any I have nothing against a more leisurely pace either (I'll use the extra energy to cook and eat something tasty).

This might not be the right thread...but since people with the most RTRT experience are here...I was wondering if anyone has any advice on the choice of backpack for a thru-hike of the RTRT? For my trip I am considering either the frame-less CDT or the light-framed Ohm2. The Eastern section (which I have experience with) looks to be full of water and resupply opportunities...where as the Western section looks to offer less opportunities? Has anyone thru-hiked the trail with a frame-less pack? How was it? What sections were the most challenging in terms of carrying the weight comfortably?

First weekend in October I'm down in FL playing a charity concert and think I've got a wedding to go to at the end of the month. I'd probably have to agree with Goose on Sept. 21 and 22 being the best dates I could get down there from Chicago.

Any updates on this trip or did this one get set on the back burner?

Well, let's do September 21st-22nd then. I'm in.

I will be in NC that weekend..have fun

Sept 21st-22nd?

I'll have what he's having.

Count me in, then.

You still game, Goose?

Congrats HornRimmed! Also...I am a PhD student in Chicago (Loyola) when I am not trying to pretend I am not...let me know if you ever have an interesting trip planned up there.

In other news...I am free the 21-22 of September...would you and Pillow mind the extra company?

Correct me if I'm wrong, pillowthread, but the more the merrier, right?

Ha! Loyola's my ala mater! Got my undergrad degree from there.

jrenow, keep in touch - hard finding backpacking partners in the 'burbs and my theatre friends aren't exactly the outdoorsy types.

I'm out of the office this week, but I just got word that a group has been scheduled for me to work with September 21. It's a small group. So I may be able to schedule one of my staff to cover it, but I won't be able to work on it until next week.

So, right now, I'm very tentatively in.

Sounds good, Goose. Understand that trying to find one weekend everyone can make it would be like trying to get us to agree on the same pizza ingredients. If you can swing someone to cover, awesome, and if not, I'm more than willing to find another time so as many of us can make it as possible.

The more the merrier indeed!


Can you put together a definitive itinerary? When & where we are meeting? When & where we are finishing? Etc. The sooner I have that, the sooner I can have an answer for you.

Still waiting on hearing the details.

Unless something unexpected comes up at work in the next few days, I'm in.

I may have 1 or 2 friends joining us. One is a guy I met on the trail last Spring. He's from Harrisburg, and he does weekend hikes all the time.

The other owns a Clark Jungle Hammock, and I'm looking for an opportunity to leave his body in the woods and take it. :P

I must be back at work on Monday. So I need to wrap up by Sunday night.

I can take a vacation day on Friday, if we are planning an earlier start.

Same goes, Goose.

Have to be home Sunday night (meaning back in my car by 5PM/6PM Sunday at the latest).

It's a bruiser of a drive down there for me, so I may just leave Friday and get there in the afternoon sometime, too.

Can we get a rough agenda, Vince, so we can start planning out at least the times and places we'll both meet up and head home?


21st: start at Garden of the Gods, hike west. Camp somewhere just inside Bell Smith Springs, or Lusk Creek.

22nd: Break camp and hike to shuttle car at Bell Smith Springs or Jackson Falls. Optional Bouldering session.

(Optional night on the 20th, also, starting at Camp Cadiz, east of Garden of the Gods)

What say you?

Hey, Vince.

Took the 20th off of work, so I'll be leaving that morning and getting down there well in time to make camp for the night.

Can you do me a favor and PM me with contact information so I can get ahold of ya once I make it down there? I'll reply in kind with my own, too.

Are we planning on finding our own dispersed campsites or are we going to be staying within established campgrounds (Bell Smith Springs, Camp Cadiz, etc). Just making sure I bring enough cash along for campsites, if need be. If we are staying in campsites, let me know what the nightly fee is.

Do we need to pack our water in, or are there places we can filter it? If packing it in, how much would you suggest? Goose, or anyone familiar, feel free to answer this question as well. 

May have to opt out of the bouldering session so I can get home at a reasonable hour before it's back to work come Monday morning. 

pillowthread said:

Otherwise, for the group thing, I think a more leisurely pace of 6-10 mile days would be what I'd shoot for...more time to set up camp and chat around a fire...

So...Camp Cadiz to Bell've changed your mind on that "leisurely" thing. :P

Just to clarify, are we hiking from Cadiz to GoG, or car camping and then moving to the GoG backpackers' parking lot on Saturday morning? It's a 16-mile hike. So I'm trying to understand the plan. I'm good either way, but if we're hiking, we're going to need to set out on Friday and start early on Saturday to meet anyone at GoG.

How is the Camp Cadiz area for leaving a car?

Also, what's the drought situation--are streams still flowing or is water getting scarce?

No bouldering for me. Sorry, but the knees won't take it.

HRH, Camp Cadiz is a primitive campground. It's $10 for a site, split among us. However, I assume we will meet and hit the trail without staying there. It's a 47-50 mile haul from CC to Bell Smith.

There is a water spigot at CC.

Other spigots are at High Knob Campground, which we'll hike through, but not stay at, and Garden of the Gods Campground (ditto). There is a fresh, potable spring just past Herod, a hikers' hangout.

Otherwise, we will filter regularly. From CC I would start out with 2-liters of water. Once we make High Knob, there are enough water options that I only carry 1-liter at a time.

Our Saturday night campsite will be in a wilderness area. We should practice Leave No Trace principals, but in reality, we'll probably be using a  horse campground, and those places are usually trashy.  

Hey, Goose.

I'm a Northerner, so I've gotta count on Southern [Illinois] hospitality to answer the things I'm unfamiliar with down there. Your reply was a big help, and a due thank you for it, sir.

2L sounds good! Probably going to bring some sort of scoop for the Sawyer Squeeze and Platy bottles - only downside to those soft-sided things is they don't fill as well in calmer water.

So do we want to go ahead and agree now on a meeting time/parking lot for those of us getting down there Friday afternoon/evening?

I'll keep an eye on this thread, gentlemen. Looking forward to the trip.

So, can we get a "head count" on who all is coming and which day they're coming in?

I'll be down there Friday afternoon, sometime after 3PM.

Thinking if we're all down there Friday - and there's no need to huff it to a second day meet up point - why not hike past Cadiz and spend the first night out in the backcountry?

Provided we can all get down there by a certain meet up time on Friday, and head out together, I'd be for it.

Yeah, thanks for hashing all that out...I don't have "great" access to the internet as of late...

If we start mid-afternoon on Friday @ Camp Cadiz, we'll camp on the trail after just a few miles. Karber's Ridge Area (GOG) Saturday. Then to Lusk Creek on Sunday. I don't think Bell Smith Springs is a reasonable goal...

We could leave a vehicle at either the Indian Kitchen TH or the Circle B (Lusk Creek) TH.

HRH, can you get down there any earlier? It's a 3-hour drive for me, but I can be there as early as anyone wants to start.

If HRH can't arrive earlier, then perhaps PT and I can work on dropping off a vehicle at a trailhead earlier in the day.

Hey, Goose.

What time were you thinking?

Let me know and I'll see what I can work out.

If BSS is shooting for the moon and then some, I'm all for pulling back a bit and making this the leisurely trip we originally were thinking. Long as we make sure to have a shuttle car at our end point, it works for me.

I've got a four-seater I'm driving down there, and can park it where it needs to go. Just let me know, gentlemen.

Even with the shuttle car at Indian Kitchen we're still looking at a ~8 mile day on Saturday, so it won't be that leisurely...

@ Joseph: tell me you're still in!

Chatted with Joseph the other day - he's still in.

Probably should get an ETA from him so we can figure out when we're all getting down there.

What time should I get down there Friday to meet up with y'all?

8 miles ain't bad at all. Sounds like a good number.

Hey All,

Yes...I'm still in...for some reason I get no notification on this thead?

I can get there anytime on Friday...well anytime after car is tiny...but seats two well enough.

Since there will be new faces for all of us...big distances will not mean as the time in camp will likely be lively and entertaining (I'm planning quick and easy meals in anticipation of this).

Eric...I've hiked using only the potable water sources that Goose mentioned using a two-liter...but I was covering like 20-30 miles a I would suggest water treatment of some kind. FYI...I have never been with anyone who uses boiling exclusively as a way to treat their water...I think that would be entertaining:-)


How does 1PM sound, Goose? That would mean I'd be out the door at 7AM, and still would leave me some time to stop for food or gas.

If this works for all y'all, let's just call it 1 o'clock, then.

Let me know which parking lot to meet you guys at, too. 

Vince and I are going to meet earlier in the day in Eddyville. We'll drop my truck (seats 4...maybe 5, but has the back for gear) at a trail head near Eddyville. Then we'll take his car over to Camp Cadiz. Everyone else, just head for CC. I'll shuttle us back when we're done.

Please send a private message to other members of the group regarding cell phones & contact information. I'd also like emergency contact for everyone in case we needed to call someone back home.

October 26, 2020
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