I'm not a real explorer, not like some folks. I enjoy staying home and working in my garden, happy as a hobbit. I'm also not big on charging off down unimproved roads in my car, pulling my camping trailer. I've heard too many stories of the person who had to back a couple of miles on a narrow one-lane road before reaching a turn-around, or executing a thirty-point turn-around in a narrow spot, inching around while worrying about dropping off a narrow shoulder. Myself, I once drove to enter Iowa's Backbone State Park along a narrow, shoulderless road, only to find the entrance gated shut and padlocked. Luckily, there was a small turning circle and I was pulling my tiny trailer, the Green Goddess, so scooping the loop was easy. If I were pulling a 45-foot fifth-wheeler--well, I don't even want to think about it.
On a bicycle, though, I grow much bolder. I can go off-road if it's not too muddy--or even if it is too muddy, if the necessity dictates. I can jump off and walk with the bike, turn sharply and slalom through trees, pick the bike up and pack it--even fall down and then get up and continue on, which I've done a few times. When I stop and consider my route when on a bicycle, it's usually "How do I do this?" not the terror-stricken "OMG, what do I do now?" I've negotiated around (and over) fallen trees on trails, and the only times I've turned back to retrace my route have included flooding. Even with flooding, I plan to bring river shoes and a towel for some routes that will include water that isn't a raging torrent.
Before continuing on with the day's ride, I checked Google Maps and realized that my projected bicycle ride to White Oak Campground, another primitive campground in Shimek State Forest, could include a ride on Coal Mine Hollow Drive, which intersected with the route to White Oak. Therefore, my trip to the campground (a return trip) could include a new section of road. Wonderful! I continued on my way to Bitternut Lake with the happy knowledge that the next day's route was a go.
Because Coal Mine Hollow Drive was only one and a tenth miles long, I walked most of the length, slowing down even more than my bicycle speed, savoring the quiet of the forest and the freshness of the forty-degrees air. I was in no hurry because the ride was my purpose, even though I had chosen a destination for the day. After a long winter (although the day and environment still had wintry aspects!), I was just enjoying the chance to move and see new territory. I would like at some point in the future to ask the local rangers if there indeed ever was a coal mine in the area. I want to ride the road sometime during the warmer season to see if there is more wildlife activity. However, I don't think I'll ride the trail during the hunting season, even wearing bright colors!