Yesterday was a wonderful day spent hiking at Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest at the southern tip of Illinois. Shawnee is known for its beautiful forests and spectacular rock ledges and it did not disappoint.
We camped in the Garden of the Gods campsite which gave us easy access to great trails. It offers 12 primitive sites that probably fill up quickly at peak times, but we had very few neighbors at all.
We had our first wildlife scare last night. We had finished our first home cooked meal in the camper and were doing some reading when we heard rustling right outside the door. Ryan thought someone was trying to steal our camp chairs and I assumed it was an ax murderer or that a bear was a long way from home.
Ryan bravely turned on our outside light and opened the window shade but saw nothing. While I would have remained in my bed, frozen with fear all night, Ryan took a flashlight and opened the door (after refusing my offer to fetch the hatchet).
He saw that the bag of organic apples I had left outside on my camp chair (oops!) had been dragged to the back of the camper and that two raccoon eyes were staring back at him from the edge of the woods. We agreed that we wound not eat the raccoon-slobbered apples and he threw them into the woods where they disappeared before morning. It was terrifying, but Ryan proved to be my hero!
We are now on the road, somewhere west of the Mighty Mississippi River, headed toward the Little Rock, Arkansas area with the intention of hitting Ouachita National Forest and Hot Springs National Park early tomorrow.
Below are some pictures from our hike yesterday.