Updated: November 24, 2012 6:13AM
Last Friday night, I spotted a weather chart predicting that the coming weekend would be the peak of fall color season here in northern Illinois.
On Saturday morning, I put that forecast to the test and found it not only to be true, but stunningly so.
“We’re going to send you on a loop through the yellow trail, and it really looks beautiful right now,” said an official with the Des Plaines River Trail Races around 8:30 a.m., referring to the main loop at the Captain Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa.
He was a man of his word. Looping around the Wright Woods on that trail with a group of friends, I was treated to the sight of thousands of mature maple trees in full autumn detonation, shedding their leaves to the ground as if setting the scene for an obsessive Hollywood director.
Though the trees were still thick, the trail and the landscape around it were under a blanket of yellow leaves. More leaves floated down through ribbons of sunlight, silent as snow. At one point, we crossed into a section dominated by oaks, and the palette shifted to an earthy brown.
It was already a good day to be on the planet, participating as we were in the sixth annual Hawk Walk to raise awareness, funds and hope in the fight against childhood leukemia. The setting boosted our spirits even higher.
And here is where I offer praise of the highest and unmitigated variety to the organizers and volunteers of the DPR Races. The third annual event operated out of the Half Day Forest Preserve and sent runners and/or walkers in three different events — marathon, half-marathon and 50-mile — up and down the River Trail between Lincolnshire and Wadsworth.
Those of us in the half-marathon category only had to make it up to Vernon Hills and back, and there was an aid station at the Mile 8 turnaround that was to die for — not only water and electrolyte drinks, but also pretzels, brownies, Oreos, M&Ms Pop-Tarts, peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches … I would still be there if my group hadn’t stubbornly insisted on finishing.
If golf is a good walk spoiled, then spending a chunk of last weekend on the backbone of Lake County was the definition of a good walk fresh from the vine. It was almost a shame to get off my sore feet.