An Afternoon at Pere Marquette State Park

It’s not often that we get to venture out for a hike in the dead of winter. But a few weeks ago, when my niece and nephew were in town from Texas, the weather was unseasonably warm for this time of year. So we (as in, the whole family — me, Mikey, Teddy, my mom, my dad, my brother and his four kids), bundled up in warm hiking gear and drove about an hour away from St. Louis to Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois to walk some of the trails.

For The Bear, this means an endless sniff festival of leaves and sticks and dirt.

For Mikey, it means pausing every five seconds so that The Bear can mark said leaves, sticks and dirt.

For my mom, it means getting to stretch her legs on a nice long walk. (Walking is a hobby of hers. She’s even on the walking committee at her work.)

For my brother, it means getting to do something fun with all of his kiddos.

For the kiddos, it means seeing new things, exploring and actually, doing something they’ve never done before. This hike marked their very first hike.

And for me and my dad, it means a perfect opportunity to break out the camera and document another family excursion.

When Mikey, The Bear and I first arrived, we spotted a group of deer in the woods off the side of the road. This was one of the few decent shots we were able to get.

The rest of the family was running behind, so me, Mikey and The Bear decided to walk the Oak trail while waiting for our fellow hikers.

Just another Mikey-Teddy adventure.

Teddy takes a few steps...

Starting to get the hang of it...

Enough with the balancing act.

Patiently waiting for the family to arrive. He's easily entertained by his favorite toy, Marvin.

Trees pave the way.

Everyone arrives, and it's off on the Hickory Trail we go.

Climbing up a hill to an overlook point.

Below us is the Illinois River.

And there's the STL.

One by one, continuing on.

Riley trio

Second shooter

Photographed by Dad, which is why he's missing from the photo.

Overall, the hike was a great success. The kids definitely enjoyed themselves (The Bear included). So when they come back to visit in the summer, we’ll have to check out another hiking destination together. In the meantime, I hope Old Man Winter will grace us with more 50-degree weather this season — preferably on a weekend when we aren’t chained to our desks and can enjoy it.

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