I had a meeting at the school on Saturday morning but I felt the urgency to put some miles on my legs during the afternoon hours. The past two weeks in the Dayton area have been frigid – lots of subzero temperatures and strong winds. On many days schools in the area either closed completely or delayed the opening of their doors for two hours so the students could travel in the light with slightly warmer temperatures. I don’t mind hiking when the temperatures are in the 20s . The trail is frozen so muddy, wet paths are not an issue. However, thermometers that read in the single digits or plummet below zero force me to hang up my backpack and enjoy some hot chocolate, wearing my comfy slippers in my living room’s easy chair. Consequently, I have not hiked for over ten days. I have only recorded 70 miles in all of January!
With temperatures promised in the 40s for Saturday, I could not pass up the call of the trail. With several inches of well packed snow still covering the ground, I knew that temperatures in the 40s would transform the MetroPark trails into swamps of freezing mud and slippery slopes requiring some downhill skis or my boyhood Flexible Flyer. So, I decided to hike a bike path – at least the path was asphalt and relatively flat. I chose to start in Waynesville and hike toward Xenia. The complete trek between these two towns is 14 miles. Not being able to start until 11:00, I knew I would not be able to reach the Xenia Station. So I checked my watch in Waynesville (11:03), started to hike with the goal of turning around at 2:15 wherever I was, so that I could hop back in my little red Civic by 5:30 (sunset was predicted at 5:57).
The hike began in soft snow with occasional asphalt spots providing solid ground for my sandals. As the temperatures continued to rise, the soft snow turned into two inches of slush and the trail became a little more difficult to navigate. My pace began to slow and my socks absorbed more of the icy water. Despite the challenges, the bike path was mild compared to what the park system trails must have offered to their visitors. The bike path has mile markers painted on the asphalt every half mile but the snow (even in the slush stage) covered the majority of the markers. My best guess is that I hiked between 9 and 10 miles toward Xenia before turning around. My left leg began to bother me on the return trek. My paced slowed, I made a few stops to rest, but I still managed to reach my car by 5:50 and a tad before the sun retired for the day. It was a satisfying 6-hour hike – I am hoping that my leg feels rested and strong in the morning. Fatigue was accomplished and I look forward to a great night’s sleep.