The sign at the trail junction stated 6.5 miles to the Wauponsee Glacial Trail in Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Midewin is located only 70 miles south of Chicago just off of I-55. I decided my goal was to hike to the trail junction and return.
It was a cool crisp spring day. The sun occasionally peaked out from the clouds, but the partly cloudy conditions made it even more ideal to hike through the prairie. There is hardly any elevation gain or loss, so I sailed on to my destination and was nearing the desired trail junction in just over three hours.
As I approached the junction I saw a strange orange color ahead. Not the kind of hue one normally sees on the trail. Apparently construction crews were working on a bridge right at the trail junction, which stopped my progress about twenty yards short of my goal.
Whenever hiking or running with a distance oriented goal it is frustrating from a mental stand point to fail even though there is no tangible result from succeeding in the operation. I looked over the construction zone and longingly could see the trail just on the other side of the bridge.
I tried to circumvent my obstruction. The old work around, but a barbed wire fence came all the way to the creek’s edge and stymied my effort. On the other side of the construction the creek was too deep to cross.
Just when I was about to abandon my objective, one of the construction workers approached and asked if I was hunting. I told him I was just hiking. I told him I was looking for a way around. He waved me through the construction, and I was able to walk over the creek on the temporary bridge they had built to get supplies across. I then scampered up the rise and finished the first part of my 13 mile mini-odyssey.
I then returned through the construction zone. The worker that allowed me through was waiting for me at the bridge. I thanked him letting me use the bridge. He asked “where are you trying to get to?” I pointed to the trail that I had just come to, and he had a confused look on his face. I was going to explain that I just wanted to hike to that trail and return.
Before I had time to elaborate, his co-worker from the crane yelled at him, and he had to go find out what he wanted. I felt it best not to linger and took off. The worker might not appreciate the fact that he created a liability by allowing me through the work zone just so I could walk across the bridge, reach my objective and return.
I did not know how to respond to the question anyways if he asked for further clarification. When adventure traveling we are driven to keep moving in order to seek new experiences. We want to leave the imprint of our feet at places we have never been before and then move on. If I would have hovered at the bridge the worker probably would have asked why I needed to get to the other side. I would have answered that question with “because it is there.”
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