Of Mermaids and Mud Puddles

 

The bridge was out.

Our only two choices were to cross the river, or trek backward about two miles. After already having hiked for three hours, we were exhausted. Neither option was ideal. But with waterproof shoes and good spirits in tow, we traversed the river.

This was just one of the many obstacles Jeci, Diana and myself faced at Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois.

And when I say obstacles, I don't mean emotional ones, I mean literal obstacles. Between crossing the river about four times, climbing up what felt like thousands of stairs, hiking through mud that I swear was about to swallow us, and forgetting to pack extra water for a hike that turned out to be four hours, we certainly had our work cut out for us.

What do we do with our hands?!

What do we do with our hands?!

But then we reached LaSalle Canyon and our minds, our hearts, and our legs, were at ease. Before we started our hike, we asked a woman working at the visitor center if she had a favorite waterfall. She directed us to LaSalle, explaining that we could walk behind it. This became our goal.

If you've never walked behind a waterfall, it looks exactly the same as walking in front of it. However, you feel like a freaking mermaid. I was ready to sit there all day, brushing my hair with a fork. It was fun to take pictures, get a little misty, and just play. 

I think, as adults, we sometimes get so caught up in our problems that we forget to take a deep breath and enjoy all the whimsy life has to offer. Of course this hike provided insight into each others' lives and we learned things we didn't know before, but it also allowed us to let loose, to enjoy nature and the company of great friends.

After making our way back to the lodge, we gulped down a much-needed, much-earned beer at the Back Door Lounge and finished our hike at Starved Rock (with plans to go back soon, as we only saw about 6 of the 16 canyons and waterfalls). Next we made a stop at Matthiesen State Park where we jumped (literally) across cement stones in the river. Before making the 2.5 hour journey home, we ate a delicious dinner at Tangled Roots Brewing Company.

This photo was incredibly hard to take and capture. Diana had to hit the shutter button and then run to her spot. She never slipped!

This photo was incredibly hard to take and capture. Diana had to hit the shutter button and then run to her spot. She never slipped!

Sometimes in life, the bridge is out. Sometimes we have to think of clever, and often scary, ways to get to the other side. It's these times that I am so thankful to have friends who act as my logs and rocks and help my feet to keep moving.

 

Photos by me (DSLR above, iPhone below)

Photos by Diana Kraus

Photos by Jeci Casperson