I rarely sit down long enough to watch the weather, but in an unusual moment last night I saw Jerry Taft talking about the weather for this weekend.  I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. Temperatures in the mid to upper 30's Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  Mostly sunny to partly cloudy.  This is going to make for a great 4 days.

Yesterday we took a 2 hour hike at Starved Rock State Park.  Our guests have been telling us about how beautiful the frozen waterfalls are.  We decided to chuck all the work we needed to do, get some fresh air, and see for ourselves what everybody is talking about. It was well worth the 4 minutes it took us to get from Brightwood Inn to Starved Rock.  We wanted to go to Wildcat Canyon so we parked in the parking lot by the lodge and took off.

I had boots with good traction so hiking was not a problem. The trails are snow packed and can be slippery so bring your YakTrax, walking stick, and whatever else you use to make it easier to get around. Be sure to dress warmly and layer up.   As long as you keep your extremities warm hiking is a pleasure!   The important thing is to get out there and see the sights you will never see in the summer.

The great thing about hiking in winter is that all of the leaves are off the trees and bushes so you can see the rock formations that are hidden in summer.  Staved Rock definitely deserves the title of 7th Wonder of Illinois as there is no other place like it, that I know of, in Illinois.

In a short time we reached our destination, Wildcat Canyon.  The ice-fall was magnificent.  There were some men that had been ice climbing so there was an orange rope off to one side of the fall.  If you look hard you can see it in the picture, but it did not deter from the beauty of the fall.  Standing at the bottom of this fall looking all around I realized that in the summer you don't see these beautiful formations.  I have hiked Starved Rock hundreds of times, but I was seeing it for the first time!!

We then decided to head towards the dam to spot some eagles.  They were there in abundance.  The river is frozen, but the dam keeps the water open. Eagles and gulls were circling around searching for prey.  There were at least 8 eagles circling around.  You could see many many more white heads perched in the trees around the Illinois Waterway Visitors center.  Be sure to bring your binoculars so you can get a better look at them.   Some of our guests recently said that they were standing on one of the bluffs and and an eagle flew very close to them.  The eagle banked and they were able to see it's entire wingspan.  They both said they gasped at the same time because it was so big and awesome to behold!

Heading back to the lodge we stopped by French Canyon.  We got as close as possible, but without YakTrax could not get all the way up to the ice-fall.  It looked very nice even though we were only partway up.   Since no one knows what card Mother Nature is going to deal us on any given day, I hope I have stimulated the desire in you to take a hike!  You won't be disappointed.

Before you leave to go hiking we'll treat you to a yummy, fresh, home made breakfast with delicious hot coffee.  Once you've hiked a while you can go to the Starved Rock Lodge, warm up a bit, have a hearty lunch and then get back on those trails.  After your hike you can come back to the Inn and sip some hot chocolate by your fireplace, or in your hot tub.  Sounds like a great day.  HAPPY HIKING!