Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Everything is on the internet somwehere and it all lives forever. At least that is what I believe. Perhaps that is just a cautionary axiom. It makes it all the more strange that I cannot find the random picture and accompanying information nugget that I am seeking.

Being a Boy Scout on the south side of Chicago meant you went winter camping in the cabins at Camp Sullivan or Falcon in the south suburban forest preserves. Aside from playing football and capture the flag in the snowy fields surrounding the cabins, the centerpiece of the weekend was a 10 mile hike through the forest preserves. It was an epic hike for us and it skipped across streets, powerlines, and chilled creeks. Looking back at that from my perch surrounded by all of Alaska, it was a fairly urban trek, though coming from the postage stamped Chicago bungalow neighborhoods it was plenty of nature. I always dug it and I'm sure my enjoyment of it augmented my eventual need to drive all the way up here.

As an 11 year old the point of my fixation of the hike was always the name and the map sign. It was called the Bigfoot hike and the large wooden sign sketching out the map stood near the hike's start, which was right next to the winter cabins. The weathered white and red piece of plywood had a dense crosshatching of streets, creeks, and trail markings. I didn't understand it in too much detail, but at that age your faith in the older scouts and adults hiking along is pure. They'll remember where we need to turn. The map had a large, imposing red foot on it, further echoing the name of the hike. It was the Bigfoot hike and I could not have read enough about UFO's, ghosts, and Bigfoot as a kid. One adult told me it was named as such because back in the early 70's mutilated animals were found in the area without explanation, save the large footprints nearby. How great is that, veracity happily unconfirmed? You can't plant a better seed for a kid's imagination. And we got to hike it every year, some times in October if the winter weekends were already booked. I'll further raise the ante -- the famously haunted Bachelor's Grove Cemetery was a stopping point on the hike.

The hike was always fun, though long for a kid's patience. I loved the possibility that something unexplained lurked in the suburban woods or the old cemetery. I'm sure we chatted about Transformers or GI Joe in our trudges, but I always kept a hidden eye out for more.

A few times in my late 20's I stopped in the parking lot near the cabins in hopes of glancing at that wicked, fertile, wooden map, only to find it long gone. It was ratty in the mid 80's, so finding it guarding the trailhead in 2000 was a slim chance. It looks like the trail may still exist in some form, though it has been renamed. This is the only relic on the web I can find, and it sadly does not have a photo. I'm sure if I look hard enough over time I'll track down my picture somewhere on the web.

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