My last camp outing for this year I head out to Jim Edgar Panther Creek. I read about this park in the book The Best Tent Camping in Illinois. If you live in or around Illinois I highly recommend this book. As usual, it rained. It was also cold and windy. Despite all that I still had a great time. I went hiking and took the boat out. I also try a few new freeze-dried meals and cook a steak.
I choose site 5, which was suggested in the book. There are seven sites, each varying in space. Site five is set back and more secluded than the others, not that I had any neighbors. A mile or so up the road are the camper sites, there were around ten campers parked there. If you hunt or fish there is plenty of opportunity for that at this park.
Site five is about a half-mile walk from the parking lot. It took me three trips (in the rain) to get all my gear in. I wouldn’t say I ‘glamp’, but I do bring a lot of gear. When you packing just keep in mind the walk to the site. The camp sells fire wood stored in a shed so it is dry.
The coolest feature of this place was the shelters. I hate cold weather, I don’t think I could of have enjoyed myself without having the shelter to hide in.
Supper my first night was Good to Go Mushroom Risotto, Thanksgiving Burger, and some space ice cream. The Mushroom Risotto was good, but not worth the price for me. I was hoping for a more unique taste; it came off as a little bland. Part of how I judge a meal is by asking myself “how easy would it be for me to make this?”. In this case I could of easily replaced this with a baggy of rice and a can of soup.
The first time I tried space ice cream was during my trip with my daughter. It was just as good this time. Wizards or maybe food scientists figured out a way to freeze dry real ice cream. The best description of its taste is ‘hard ice cream’.
My Thanksgiving burger seamed appropriate for the season. The recipe for the burger is: 1 lbs. ground turkey, 1 lbs. ground pork, 1 egg, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1 tsp. thyme, and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix it all together and form patties. I recommend grinding your own pork and finding cuts with a bit of fat on them. The stuffing patties are made with Stove Top stuffing. Make the stuffing according to box directions then add an egg and form into patties. Be careful heating the stuffing it can burn easily.
Once the sun set the temperature started to drop and the rain picked up again. I couldn’t keep the fire going so I retreated to the shelter. I enjoyed a Victor Sinclair cigar gifted to me by a work buddy and watched the rain. It was a very peaceful evening and eerily quiet. This trip was the first time I have been alone so far away from home. I have to admit that when I did hear a sound in the woods it unnerved me a little. All part of the experience.
I woke up early the next morning. I laid in my sleeping bag enjoying the warmth. I procrastinated a long time about getting out. When I finally did I was hit with temperatures in the low 30’s and a strong wind. My first thought was that I would have to cancel my planned activities. I fired up the stove, brewed some Black Rifle CAF coffee, and made some eggs and mushrooms.
Once I was sufficiently caffeinated and had a full belly I decided a little wind wasn’t going to stop me. So, I headed out to find the Governor’s South trail. It was not easy to find because there was no sign at the trail head. I had to employ a bracketing method bouncing back and forth between signs until I found the trail parking lot. During my search I stopped at Jake’s Point which offered a stunning view of a prairie.
The Governor’s South trail was very nice and well maintained. It is normally used for cyclists so there was a deep track down the center of the trail. As far as mountain bike trails go this one is tamed, still I don’t think my gravel bike would be able to handle it very well. There were several streams to cross. My feet were quickly soaked. I was happy that the wind had stopped and the sun was shining. I had to shed my long johns about a mile into the hike.
I returned to camp to discover that the wind had picked up again. I made Backpacker’s Pantry Chicken Vindaloo. I have never had Indian food so I can’t compare this meal to the real thing. I did enjoy it very much, though. It had nice heat to it. The tomato flavor came through the most. I could taste the chicken, but not by much.
After lunch I again procrastinated my next move. It was cold and windy. I knew it would be worse on the lake. Eventually I decided to take the boat out and I’m glad I did. It was the first time I used this year. I love my boat, but it does have it’s drawbacks. Even the little waves kicked my but. I paddled until just before sunset. The lake I was on was huge with a lot of off shoots to explore. I’m hopping to return next year during warmer weather (and longer days).
Night came fast. I started a fire as soon as I returned to camp and began cooking. About a month ago I ran into an old Army buddy who raises beef on the side (his full time job is DOT road work). I ordered a 1/4 cow from him (Haddy Farm). This trip was the first steak I had from that cow. It was very good. I coated the steak in olive oil and seasoned with salt, garlic powder, and pepper. My side dish was some colorful potatoes, carrots, and a couple mushrooms cooked with butter. I have heard that purple potatoes are super healthy; I didn’t know they were super tasty until now. They tasted as if I had seasoned them, which I did not. I’m looking forward to getting them again.
I was able to enjoy my second night much more than the first. I built the fire up, had another cigar, and read comics on my Nexus. I may or may not of enjoyed a crowler of Streamline Mapler from Beer Church. Alcohol is prohibited at Jim Edgar Panther Creek. Streamline Mapler is an imperial sweet stout. It has a slight bite of alcohol balanced with the sweet flavors of maple syrup.
The next morning was the coldest and I did not want to get out of my tent. I blocked the open side of the shelter with a tarp which helped keep the wind out and some warmth in. I packed some of my gear the day before including my Coleman stove so I made some instant coffee. For breakfast I had Wild Zora Coconut Berry. I do not like coconut so I was worried I wasted my money. I was surprised how good this meal was and how little I tasted the coconut. It is a mix of granola, berries, and nuts. I plan on trying the other flavors they have on future trips.
Dispite the cold I really enjoyed myself. Jim Edgar Panther Creek has a lot to offer and I plan on exploring more down the road.
Another great year of camping
Thank you for all the support.