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Nature, family, solitude and just plain fun

The spring at Silver Springs State Park; photo by John Tarzynski

The spring at Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area; photo by John Tarzynski

During the past week, I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with several people who have committed themselves to working their way through the hikes in my book, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Chicago. I met a married couple at a party who said they have already completed 20 hikes in the book. I loved hearing about their explorations and their descriptions of the places they enjoyed the most. They told me they often hike more than one trail in a single day by choosing hiking destinations that are close together. We had plenty to talk about because they had camped and hiked in the Shawnee National Forest, a place where I’ve spent time, too (it also happens to be the one of the best areas for hiking and camping in Illinois).

In addition to meeting this friendly couple at a party, I recently received the above photo and following e-mail letter from John Tarzynski, who lives in St. Charles.

Hi Ted,

My name is John Tarzynski. First of all, I have to compliment you about your book. Wow! It’s concise, accurate and fun to read. Your descriptions of the trails and how to navigate them are dead on, and you have great suggestions for additional activities.

I’m new to hiking, biking, camping and backpacking this year but I’m getting out there, doing it all and love every minute of it. I purchased your book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles (2nd Edition) back in March at the REI in Schaumburg to assist and enhance my hiking experience, and it’s done just that. So far this year I have been on three of the trails (Silver Springs Trail, Fullersburg Woods and Danada). I enjoyed them so much I went back to a couple of them with my wife and two daughters. They, too, very much enjoyed the hikes (and horses at Danada!). I’m planning to hit one of the Palos/Sag trails this Sunday afternoon since I’ll be in the area for band rehearsal (I play drums). So the timing is good and the weather forecast looks great.

I have to thank you again for such a great book. You have not only provided a great resource for Chicagoans, but you have provided me with a goal. That goal is to hike every trail in the book. No special time frame, it’s just something I’ve set out to do because there is so much to see and experience out there in nature, family, solitude and just plain fun. Hiking has really helped me decompress from the daily stresses of life.

I wanted take some time to write you, as I imagine most people don’t take the time to communicate their appreciation for your hard work.

Thanks again and hope to meet you out on the trails someday!


John Tarzynski
St. Charles, IL

P.S. Nice website, too. I have subscribed to your Prairie Fever newsletter. Also, I have attached a photo to share with you from my very first hike ever, which was at Silver Springs Trail on April 17, 2009. It was early evening and I was standing on the wooden dock directly above the spring. It reminded of the Yellow Brick Road…only in green! Hope you enjoy it.

I was utterly thrilled to receive John’s letter and hear about his newfound passion. And of course, I was excited about his goal of hiking all the trails in the book. I was especially pleased to hear that John was sharing his love for hiking close to home with his family. I asked him to keep me posted about his hikes as he works his way through the book. Thanks again, John.

If any hikers want to share their experiences on local trails, I’d love to hear from you. You can add comments and information about individual hikes in the photos section.

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