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Welcome REI Co-op Members! We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community, click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

Hi! from a Virginian in Illinois

Hi!  I'm Linda and I've been a member for a year or so now but never introduced myself so I'm doing it now.  I'm from Virginia but I live in Illinois; I will always be a Virginian.  I have two passions in the outdoors and I'm not sure I can choose one over the other; sea kayaking (or here in Illinois its Great Lakes kayaking) and backpacking.  My favorite place is the Grand Canyon.  I backpacked there once in 2012 and am going back in June.  I'm always looking for new adventures and new people to adventure with.  I'm building my knowledge of adventuring outdoors but I also still have lots of questions and lots to learn.  So I hope I can be a positive contributor in this forum.

Happy trails (water or land) to all!

8 Replies


Hi Linda - Thanks so much for introducing yourself! It made me so happy to hear you have plans to get back to your favorite place later this year. Are you planning on doing a similar backpacking trip or will it be quite different than what you did in 2012? There are a lot of fellow community members that love the Grand Canyon, so you will hopefully find some fun camaraderie there! 

It's great to know that you'll always consider yourself a Virginian. We'll be sure to tag you if people ask us for suggestions about kayaking or backpacking around there! I used to live in Alexandria myself and have loved my time around Shenandoah and beyond, so know you have great reason to love that state.

Thanks for taking the time to introduce yourself. We hope this community continues to be a good spot to come and learn about the outdoors! We're happy to have you here.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi @REI-CarterC !  In 2012 we packed down the South Kaibab trail and camped two nights at Bright Angle campground near Phantom Ranch.  We day hiked out to Ribbon Falls and had lunch at the falls.  Really cool falls.  Then we packed out on the Bright Angle trail spending the night at Indian Garden.  This year we are doing rim-to-rim starting at the north rim on the North Kaibab trail, stopping at Cottonwood, Bright Angel, and Indian Garden of the Bright Angle trail heading out.  I had total knee replacement surgery in January so this may be an especially tough hike.  It will be beautiful though!

I grew up in Fairfax County VA but my address was Alexandria.  One of Mt Vernon High School's football rivals was TC Williams in Alexandria.  I grew up hiking and camping in the Shenandoah, George Washington National Forest, and Ft Hunt Park.  My first backpacking trip was on the Appalachian trail.  I unfortunately don't get back as much as I would like.  We were supposed to backpack in Shenandoah NP last spring but then COVID hit and everything closed.  😞

I'm in southern Illinois, mostly hike in Shawnee Nat'l Forest. If you're in the area, drop me a line.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Hi @SILHiker !  We are planning a two night backpacking trip in Shawnee in May to test out my new knee (Shawnee ain't the Canyon, but it will be pack, boots, and uneven walking), and some new gear we got last fall.  Looking for a loop that is on the order of 20-25 miles.  If you have some suggestions, that would be great.  A couple of years ago I picked up the maps produced by Friends of Shawnee.


Sometimes I start at Elizabethtown and do the River to River trail up past Garden of the Gods, then turn around and go back. That's usually 3 nights for me tho. I've also gone from Elizabethtown to the High Knob area, hiked some of the loop trails there the following day, then back to Elizabethtown the 3rd day. I believe it's 16 miles from Elizabethtown to High Knob, and another 6 or so to Garden of the Gods. There are several loop trails near the High Knob/Garden of the Gods area. A few hours in Garden of the Gods is always worthwhile. A couple of miles west of GOG are some nice campsites on the bluffs. Buzzards' Roost is interesting too. You could also park at GOG and just do loops, camp at either GOG or you can stay anywhere that's more than a half mile from the campground and not in a designated Natural Area. Your Friends of Shawnee maps show the loops near High Knob. I might join you if you'd like.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I know what that’s like, @Luv2Kayak  - I’ve been living in the Chicagoland area for just over 20 years but I moved here from Vancouver (Canada) and will always be a Vancouverite. 


“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

hey @Luv2Kayak , I'm in VA now (hampton roads area), after hiking the glorious 'tree tunnels' of VA for years, hiking in the GC blew me away!

the views 'out west' are always on my mind when hiking our tree tunnels, alas.

now it seems I spend all winter planning spring/summer hikes out west.

REI Member Since 1979

@PhilreedshikesI do love the views out west and I do love the challenge of the hikes above the tree line with the glaciers and rocks, but the tree tunnels...  They are alive and ever changing.  They are filled with the noises of birds and animals.  They cradle you and hold you and provide shelter and protection from the elements.  The tree tunnels are my friends.