Let’s Move Quad Cities celebrates the spirit and determination Quad City area residents take to promote movement and fitness. Let’s Move Quad Cities’ new QC Outside blogger, Wade Ellett, 33, shares his path from an all-work-and-no-play lifestyle to a renewed commitment to adventure.
(Micro)Adventure is Why I Move
by Wade Ellett, John Deere Digital Archivist and Outdoor Adventurer
Tell us how you came to love the Great Outdoors!
I was very lucky to grow up involved with the Boy Scouts, which was a big influence on me.
I also owe a lot to having friends and family that were and continue to be active in the outdoors and very supportive of my endeavors.
Tell us about your new blog Intrepid Daily:
I’ve been blogging about 9 months. After growing up being really active outdoors, I settled into grad school, then got a second graduate degree, and then started working in an office.
I went to work, I came home, I did chores around the house, and I was bored. More than that, I was boring! I think this is a real problem for a lot of people honestly. We envisioned an adventurous life, but we don’t necessarily know how to make it happen within the confines of our daily life.
I wanted to change that, both for others, and myself so I started Intrepid Daily.
Why do you want to turn people on to local QC places?
I talk with a lot of people who have dreams of hiking the Appalachian Trail or backpacking Europe but they don’t have the time, money, or experience. They see it as an either/or proposition; either I can have these big adventures or I have to sit and wait until I can.
I’m a big advocate of micro-adventuring, which is going out there and doing these adventurous activities in a way that’s much more accessible. Not being able to climb Everest doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything right now, and taking up hiking isn’t accepting that you’ll never climb that mountain. It’s simply doing what you can, where you are, with what you’ve got, and there is more to do and see in the Quad Cities area than a lot of people realize.
Since you’ve just moved to the QC, what do you like best about living enjoying our local area?
Like I said, there’s a lot of great stuff to do and see in the QC.
I really do love the Mississippi River, and even though it isn’t cutting a trail through the wilderness, I do love hiking the banks. It’s easy to forget as we drive alongside or across it that this river has been the subject of poems, songs, novels, and paintings. It’s pretty incredible in its own way.
My wife and I are big fans of Black Hawk State Historic Site, simply because it’s so near to our home in Rock Island, and is incredibly accessible. You can camp, hike, fish, run, bike, kayak, canoe, and try several local beers without driving an hour.
Favorite QC area hiking spot:
We hike Black Hawk State Historic Site a lot. It has a great riverfront trail that runs along the Rock River, and there is a spot where the trail diverges to a lookout or a rock outcropping beneath it. I really enjoy sitting there and listening to the water lapping up against the stone.
Wildcat Den near Muscatine is a little farther away, but the park has some really fantastic rock faces that look and feel fantastic; the Devil’s Punch Bowl is a remarkable feature there.
Local area park still to be explored:
There are tons of places in and around the QC that I still need to explore. Sylvan Island, Green Valley Nature Preserve, and Smith’s Island Nature Trail all spring to mind. I’m told Devil’s Glen has a mature oak forest that I’ll love, so I need to check that out.
A little farther away I’m dying to explore Hennepin Canal State Trail, and this summer I’ll be hiking the entirety of the Great River Trail. I’m also getting tons of input from people about great places to explore, so my to-do list is always growing!
I mentioned that I’ll be doing the Great River Trail this summer, and that’s become something of a dream hike for me. On a bit of a grander scale, I’d love to hike the John Muir Trail at some point in the future, as well as California’s Lost Coast. I’d also love to do some hiking in the Scottish Highlands, because every photo I’ve seen is so incredibly lovely.
We understand you’re newly married, how’s the spouse feel about camping?
I’ve been married just over half a year and my wife, Clarissa, is usually pretty enthused about joining me for hikes or camping. She has less experience than I do. Of course, the first time I took her camping, we encountered a torrential downpour and the weatherproofing on the tent gave out, so it was pretty miserable. Still, she’s stuck with it, has developed some good camp skills, and is pushing her comfort zone further and further.
Peak High Camping or Hiking Experience:
I will say that hiking Harney Peak, the highest natural point in South Dakota, in the Black Hills during my honeymoon. It was a remarkable experience. I am definitely a Midwesterner, so hiking up a mountain and looking out over the Black Hills with my wife was an experience that deeply affected me.
Lowest Camping or Hiking Experience:
Spend enough time camping and hiking and you’re going to have a negative day in there somewhere.
Years ago I was doing some very basic wilderness survival training with a friend of a friend, and I found myself essentially sleeping in a muddy field in a rainstorm after not eating all day. I was cold, wet, hungry, and all around uncomfortable and that’s probably my least favorite camping memory.
As for hiking, last year I fell and broke my hand on a trail, mostly because I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing, and I was showing off for a GoPro camera my wife and I were experimenting with.
How often (or how many miles) do you hike in a given period of time?
We try to get out and hike once a week, but sometimes we have to supplement that by walking a few miles of the leg of the Great River Trail near Schweibert Park. We’ve made the commitment to actually get out and do a longer hike once every two weeks, and we try to do a challenging or new hike at least once a month.
Look for Wade who will be sharing his QC area favorite hiking spots on his regular Let’s Move blog called “QC Outdoors!”
Welcome aboard, Wade!