Our home for the weekend this year: The Willows Hotel in beautiful Utica, Illinois.
A gathering of the primary planners for the day discusses our strategy before we head out for our first adventure.
The destination for the morning: Matthiessen State Park, just four miles south of Utica. Frequently overshadowed by its more popular neighbor, Starved Rock State Park, our family believes it offers much more scenic and interesting hiking. Here our group decides to avoid the mud in the middle of the walking bridge.
The most interesting and challenging trails in the park actually follow a small stream through a canyon of rock formations and mineral springs. This morning was so humid that my glasses fogged up frequently, so I'm not sure if the fogginess in the photos is actually humid air or fog on the camera lens.
Karen and Lily easily won the award for best dressed hikers on the trails as voted by the entire population of visitors to the park that day.