Hiking

The Seven Survivors

While Rocky and I have been off enjoying the Appalachian Trail down south in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and southern Virginia, the seven thru-hikers that I have been following on trailjournals.com have been moving north. Let me provide a quick update on their progress and where they are according to their last online journal posting.

Bamadog: Photo from June 25

The hiker that is the farthest north is Bamadog, Marty Dockins. He began his adventure on Feb 15 and has amassed 1741 miles. (All my mileage figures are based on my 2014 thru-hike guidebook. The trail has changed slightly since this time and so my mile-markers are just a bit inaccurate, but they consistent for every hiker and give a good comparison between the seven.) Bamadog is staying in Norwich, Vermont, with some trail angels, just a mile from the New Hampshire border and Hanover, NH, the home of Dartmouth College. Bamadog arrived in Hanover on June 25th and had an opportunity to spend the night in the home of Betsy and Bill Maslin.

Not too far behind Bamadog is Hard Knocks, Patrick Knox, who is resting at Rutland, Vermont, and mile 1697. Hard Knocks has spent three zero-days in Rutland resting in and avoiding a major thunderstorm. He has been struggling lately with stamina. He is such a strong hiker but his recovery seems to be suffering. Hard Knocks wrote in his journal on June 22nd  I find that I can walk +/- 20 miles for about three days when my legs and feet tell me they need a rest.” He is still in an excellent position to complete his thru-hike, but New Hampshire and Maine will test every part of the thru-hiker – legs, spirit, knees, emotion, and determination.

Next Step’s view along the Ten Mile River

Next Step, Darrell Brimberry, has been hiking solo since his wife, Which Way, needed to get off the trail for a while as she rehabs a nagging back injury. She hopes to rejoin him soon. Next Step has been logging major mileage every day and on June 26th crossed over into the state of Connecticut. He has walked 1450 miles toward Mount Katahdin and is well on his way to completing the trail. He shared the walk through the first six miles of the Constitution State. “Connecticut greeted me with a little climb up Ten Mile Hill. Down the other side of the hill the trail crossed the Bull’s  Bridge 19th Century Covered Bridge over the Ten Mile River at its confluence with the Housatonic River. The trail worked its way upstream of the Housatonic for about a mile. A side road led to Bull’s Bridge, a 19th Century covered bridge. On the far side of the bridge was a country store. I stopped in for some dinner and re-supply. The store was run by a friendly Indian couple. Wouldn’t you know it, they had Chicken Vindaloo in the frozen food section. I hung around the store until about 5:45PM. It was about a 4 mile hike from there, up and over Schaghticoke Mountain to the campsite where I was staying for the night.”

Sour Kraut

Sour Kraut, Tim Pfeiffer, blogs with words on a rare occasion, but he posts photographs that indicate where he is on the trail. He posted a photo on June 16th that I recognize as the 911 Memorial Flag on Shenandoah Mountain in New York, at about mile 1422. Shenandoah Mountain is about 22 miles from Pawling, New York, the home of the only railroad station on the AT. This is where several members of my church met me during my 2014 thru-hike, so it is a special place for me.

RTK at Sunfish Pond

RTK, Bruce Matson, last updated his journal on June 19th. He was six miles south of Vernon, New Jersey around mile-marker 1346. He continues to hike consistently along the trail. On June 19th he mentions meeting Next Step and enjoying a visit in Unionville, New York. Next Step does recount the stop in town but does not mention RKT specifically. Because RTK blogs about 7 days behind his journey it is difficult to get a current read on his hike.

On June 25th Chip Tillson was camped 4 miles south of Boiling Springs., Pennsylvania just shy of 1114 miles along the trail. He hiked 19 miles on the 25th, the most he has walked in one day. He passed the geographic half-way marker earlier in the day as he trekked through Pine Grove Furnace State Park. He did not participate in the half-gallon challenge (eating a half gallon of ice cream) because he arrived fairly early in the morning (it would not have stopped me but HYOH -Hike Your Own Hike).

Pigweed, Lee Richards, has decided to take a break from the trail. On June 14th, he arrived at Buena Vista, Virginia and just over 800 miles on the AT. He is going to the beach with his wife and hopes to return after July 4. He plans on traveling to Maine, climbing Katahdin, and then hiking back toward Buena Vista to complete a “flip-flop” thru-hike. If he is to be successful, I think this plan is the best idea. His pace is just too slow to make it to Katahdin before the snow flies and makes his ending impossible. A “flip-flop” will enable him to hike southbound (SOBO) and complete the adventure in Virginia in the late fall (maybe early winter).

 

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Bamadog, Chip Tillson, Class of 2018, Hard Knocks, Hiking, New Hampshire, Next Step, Pigweed, RTK, Sour Kraut, Thru-Hike, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day Seven of the 14-State Challenge

Grayson Highlands View

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy initiated a 14-State Challenge to anyone who wanted to experience a little bit of the AT in each of the 14 states from Georgia to Maine (Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine). It is done on an honors system with time frame involved. Rocky and I decided we would walk right in and begin our trek this summer. We decided to move NOBO (northbound) by starting in Georgia and touching the first four states along the trail.

A Foggy Beginning

Day Seven (Saturday, June 23) completed our first leg of the challenge as we visited Grayson Highlands State Park in southern Virginia. The state of Virginia comprises some 550 miles of the AT making it the longest state of the 14. It is so long that some thru-hiker get the “Virginia Blues” longing for the next state to arrive. There is so much to see in this wonderful state, that Rocky and I will most likely return to Virginia when we begin part two of our journey. When I thru-hiked the trail in 2014 I divided the state up into three “states” (each comprising about 183 miles) to create smaller hiking goals. I call the first “state” was Southern Virginia, followed by Middle-Earth Virginia, and concluding with Doah Virginia (in honor of the Shenandoah National Park and a great fellow-hiker, Princess Doah). All of our hiking on this first leg was in Southern Virginia, so Rocky and I want to touch Middle Earth and Doah on our next adventure.

Wild Pony Sentry

All of that aside, Grayson Highlands was fantastic! The ponies greeted us, the rocks cried out to us, the rain showered its blessing on us, the wind blew almost blew our hats off, and the clouds almost engulfed us during our incredible hike through the rocky terrain. As Rocky and I drove the 30 minutes from our motel in Marion, Virginia, the rain began to sprinkle on the windshield. By the time we reached the state park, it was raining a constant gentle rain. Pulling into a parking place, Rocky did not hesitate – she was out of the car and wanting to get her trekking poles out of the trunk.

The initial 20-minutes was a little wet and a little cold, but the weather began to cooperate, the rain subsided, and the hike became quite comfortable. The cloud cover and the wind (which was rather intense at times) continued all morning giving us a fantastic cover from the sun’s heat. Most of the highlands is open without tree cover, so the sun can make a hike rather sweltering.

The Game of Tag

We encountered several wild ponies along the way. There were a number of foals that were full of life and had fun with each other testing out their legs with zestful games of tag. Rocky and I watched and laughed as they played totally ignoring the two retired folks with walking sticks. As we moved north, we encountered a few ponies standing right on the path. Rocky used her Mimi skills and “lovingly pushed” the horses off the trail so that we could pass on by.

The elevation change through the highlands is less than 600 feet, but the rocky terrain made the hike a nice challenge for us. Add to the terrain some blustery winds and some wet rocks, and the trail presented some adventure that translated into some special memories for us. Rocky was such a trooper and we laughed, marveled, prayed, and enjoyed the entire trek without one word of complaint or negativity. She is such a special hiking buddy!

Rocky Trail

After completing the trail, we returned to our car and drove to the Virgil J. Cox Visitor Center. Rocky and I got our AT Passports stamped at the center and then enjoyed a drive through the country roads back toward Marion. Sunday is a travel day as we end this portion of the challenge and return to the comfort of home. The adventure was remarkable, but there is no place like home. As we reflected on the last week, Rocky and I also projected the journey ahead of us as we begin to plan for stage two of the challenge. I have heard that the Shenandoah Valley is glorious in the fall.

Categories: 14-State Challenge, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Grayson Highlands, Hiking, Rocky, Rowdy, Trekking Poles, Virginia, Wild Ponies | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rocky and Rowdy on an AT Challenge

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has issued a 14-State Challenge. Anyone brave enough to take the challenge is expected to hike at least a portion of the AT in all 14 states. Rocky and I have decided to begin our quest this summer taking on four states: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

After spending some special time with my son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren in Canton, Georgia, Rocky and I are going to spend the next eight days exploring some of the beauty of the AT. Today, Sunday 6/17/18, we drove to the approach trail at Amicalola Falls State Park and hiked the 604 steps to the top of the falls. The cascade is truly amazing. We visited the welcome center and got our first stamp in our official AT Passports; we entered the approach trail via the iconic arch at the welcome center; and we enjoyed meeting three section-hikers hoping to make it North Carolina.

Amicalola Falls

Although Amicalola Falls is not part of the official Appalachian Trial, many thru-hikers begin here and hike the 8.5-mile approach trail to Springer Mountain, Georgia. Rocky and I came down the steps faster than we went up, loaded in our 2018 Maserati (disguised as a 1999 Toyota Camry), and headed down the road to Woody Gap just south of Suches, Georgia. The AT crosses GA. Route 60 at Woody Gap (about mile 21 into the AT) that houses a nice little road-side parking lot and picnic area. Rocky and I parked and headed NOBO (northbound) toward the summit of Big Cedar Mountain. It was beautiful. The forest kept the sun at bay and provided a nice, cool hike. We reached Preaching Rock with an incredible view to the east and finally, the summit of Big Cedar Mountain opened up onto a rocky ledge with another amazing view of the mountain range in the distance. Rocky and I enjoyed a relaxing moment on the summit taking in the glory of God’s creation. We met several section hikers on the way back down the mountain. They were all headed for Franklin, North Carolina. We talked with another hiker from Hawaii who is planning to hike as far as she can. She was carrying a pack that looked like it was over 50 pounds while I would guess that she weighed no more than 110 pounds. She was such a sweet lady and we talked for several minutes and wished her well on her journey.

Rocky on Big Cedar Mountian

From Woody Gap, we drove to Dahlonega, GA, and got a hotel for the night. Rocky went to the outdoor pool and I hit the computer to document the adventure on this blog. Tomorrow we head for Neels Gap, Georgia, at the 31.7-mile marker. I will try to post some photos and some words capturing out adventure.

Categories: 14-State Challenge, Amicalola Falls, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Georgia, Hiking, Neels Gap, Rocky, Rowdy, Trail, Woody Gap | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Caesars Creek Loop

Caesers Creek

Rocky and I took advantage of a beautiful Friday, June 8, to enjoy the trail that encircles part of Caesars Creek Lake. The 12.7-mile loop trail has some elevation change and some road walking, but the terrain is beautiful and peaceful. We began our trek at 8:40, took our time, enjoyed a couple of rest breaks and completed the trail about 2:10 for a 5 ½-hour hike. The temperatures were moderate to high but hydration was our biggest challenge. Rocky tried out a new camelbak-style water bladder and I went old school with two water bottles. She loved her easy access to refreshment and I had a few sips left at the end of the loop.

Birds serenaded our walk throughout the day and the lush green forest shaded our heads from the heat of the sun. The treeless, 0.7-mile walk over the bridge and along Route 73 treated us to the power of the sun and the traffic of the four-lane road, but 50 Springs Picnic Area welcomed us with a covered pavilion and a restful spot to grab some trail food and take a load off our feet.

After rock-hopping one of the many little streams that crisscross the trail and heading up a hill on the other side, Rocky told me to stop and look at the fawn. I had walked right by Bambi without noticing his camouflaged spot among the underbrush. I stopped and was able to get a photo of the little guy. No mom in sight, but hopefully nearby.

We saw numerous tiny frogs (just right for a snake’s dinner), chipmunks, squirrels, a groundhog, a garter snake, and several fellow hikers, including Theresa, our friendly librarian from the Miami Township Library.

Rocky recently purchased some new trekking pole at REI and this was the break-in walk for this new equipment. The poles saved her from a faceplant when a trip root snuck up on her. She twisted her knee a little but the trekking poles prevented a fall – money well spent! We have found it hard to walk comfortably in the woods without our “sticks.”

About half-way through our loop, we came to a large parking lot and a ramp to launch boats into the lake. As we were walking through the parking area to reach the trailhead, we noticed a sign that I have never seen before… anywhere! The sign read Warning Vultures May Cause Damage to Vehicles. When I got home, I researched this phenomenon. Here is an interesting quote from Indiana State Parks:

The black vulture, the gray-headed cousin of the turkey vulture, is causing damage to vehicles–often trucks and SUVs –parked at boat ramps. Windshield wipers, sunroof seals, and rubber or vinyl parts are at particular risk. Most of the time, perching black vultures do little or no damage. However, in some cases, the destruction can be extensive. The vultures can tear out rubber seals, peck pieces out of truck bed liners, and scratch paint with their claws. Why are they “attacking” vehicles? The quick answer is that no one knows for sure. https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/files/sp-black_vulture_vehicle_damage_brochure.pdf

Rocky’s New Trekking Poles

We were tired at the end of the loop, but it was a good tired, filled with accomplishment, and serotonin, and Vitamin D. Getting out of the car after the 25-minute drive home might have been the most difficult part of the day. It is amazing how fast those muscles tighten up. Dinner tasted especially good and sleep came easy that night. I am Rowdy and my wife is Rocky and we had a great day together in God’s creations. I would recommend a hike to release some stress, to clear the mind, and to breath the air of beauty and health.

Categories: Caesar Creek, Hiking, Local Hikes, Ohio, Rocky, Rowdy, Trail, Vultures | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

April on the AT – Thru-hikers Trek On

AT on April 15, 2018

April 2018 was a cold month with some snow, ice, and slippery trails for those attempting a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. It has only been in the last week of April that the temperatures have been comfortable and the conditions reflect the change of seasons. The last week of April find my nine hikers (those brave souls that I have been following on trailjournals.com) spread out over almost 1000 miles of the trail. All of them began their journeys between January 31 and February 27 and all of them have been diligent in their goal of conquering this iconic long-trail covering 2,190 miles through 14 states from Georgia to Maine.

Let me give you a quick update on each hiker in order of their start dates.

The Clan at Stonybrook Organic Farm and Hostel

Hard Knocks, Patrick Knox, started on January 31. As of his last post (4/30/2018) he has been hiking for 90 days and has covered 1,010 miles. He is camped at Stonybrook Organic Farm and Hostel, a religious commune run by the Twelve Tribes Network. Hard Knox shares, “…it is a religiously based commune.  It is a beautiful place and all of the people seem very nice all for the low price of Zero Dollars.  All they ask is that you work a little (I mopped a floor tonight) or consider a donation before you leave.  It is certainly nice enough for me to consider a zero-day tomorrow before I make the hike to Harpers Ferry.  If so, I will give more of a report on the hostel/commune.  So, maybe arrest day tomorrow before I continue walking.” Hard Knocks is averaging 11.2 miles per day and at this rate, it will take him 196 days to complete the trail.

Vagabond Jack, Jack Masters, began his hike on February 1st. His last post was made on April 28th and Vagabond was about 40 trail-miles north of Pearisburg, Virginia, at Laurel Creek Shelter and 670 miles from Springer Mountain Georgia. Jack is only averaging 7.7 miles per day, although he walked 16.5 miles on April 27th and 14.6 miles on April 28th. At the overall rate of 7.7 miles per day, it will take Vagabond Jack 285 day to complete the Appalachian Trail.

Opa in hospital

Opa is Reinhard Gsellmeier from Rochester, NY. He began his thru-hike on February 10th but has covered more miles than any hiker in this group. On April 27th he was at the 1,275-mile mark and experiencing the rocks of Pennsylvania. He met family in Wind Gap, PA, and drove home to Rochester for a few days of relaxing. After a day of resupply, Opa took ill and found himself in a New York hospital.He shared on April 30th, I basically have an enlarged prostate, a condition that is not uncommon for men my age.  I will also be scheduled to see an urologist, who will further evaluate my condition and advise as to treatment options.  My doctor also re-examined my hernia, which I’ve had since last fall, and he advised that my hernia now needs to be surgically repaired once my prostate issue is resolved and before I have any notion of continuing on with my AT hike…. These health issues are nothing serious that can’t be dealt with, but it looks like the continuance of my AT thru hike attempt is going to be put on hold for awhile…  In one respect I consider myself very fortunate that the issue with my prostate manifested itself while I happened to be in Rochester for the weekend….This will be my last journal entry for at least awhile.” I will keep you posted on Opa when he updates his journal.

Bamadog on Tinker Cliffs

Bamadog, Marty Dockins, took his first step on the AT on February 15th. He is averaging 11.1 miles per day and at this current rate, his trip to Mount Katahdin will take 197 days. He has just crossed over the suspension bridge at Tye River, climbed about 3000 feet to Three Ridges Mountain, and is about 25 trail-miles from Waynesboro, Virginia.

Chip Tillson started his hike on February 20, seventy days before his last post on April 30. He is camped close to Walker Gap about half way between Atkins and Bland, Virginia. He is only averaging 8.1 miles per day with an estimated total of 271 days needed to complete his thru-hike. Hopefully, the spring weather will enable him to increase his daily mileage.

The Guillotine

Tim Pfeiffer, Sour Kraut, took to the trail on February 21. He has not posted a written journal entry since March 11, but he submits photos to mark his progress. He posted a picture on April 30 (day 69 of his trek) of The Guillotine, a round rock balanced on rock-outcropping, under which the path leads the hiker. It reminds me of the Indiana Jones movie where Indy has to run away from the rock rolling over his head. The Guillotine is 765 miles into the hike. Sour Kraut is averaging 11.4 miles and at this rate will need 197 days to fulfill the dream.

600 miles for Which Way and Next Step

Which Way and Next Step, the couple from Washington, DC, crossed the 600-mile marker after spending 65 days on the trail. The couple is about two or three days away from Pearisburg, Virginia. They left on February 25 and, so far, are averaging 9.2 miles per day. At this pace, their thru-hike will take 238 days. However, they are making much better mileage in recent days and the weather should help their pace as well.

RTK, Bruce Matson, records his journal a week late so it is difficult to compare his trek with the others. However, on day 58 of his hike (April 23), which began on February 25, he is about 663 miles into his northbound (NOBO) adventure. His pace is 11.4 miles per day with an estimated trip of 192 days.

Spring makes such a difference!

Pigweed started his hike on February 27, had to take two weeks off for an injury, and is now back on the trail. He is several hundred miles behind the others who started in February and is only averaging 5.5 miles per day. He is in Erwin, Tennessee and has hiked about 341 miles. This rate will make his trek last more than a year (398 days). During the past six days, he has increased his mileage to 11.5 miles per day. I think to be successful he will need to continue to increase his daily distance if he hopes to complete this challenge.

My hopes and prayers for these thru-hikers is that the good weather ahead will encourage and refresh them. Their legs should be strong and now, more than ever, the emotional aspects of the trail are critical. Injury is only a fall away, sickness can strike any day, and discouragement can creep up on a hiker without too much warning. But, the warmth and color of spring can propel the hiker with zeal and excitement. May the winds of May fill their lungs, hearts, and minds with strength and a renewed commitment to the journey.

Photo of Commune from https://www.twelvetribes.com/community/stoneybrook-farm-dc-area. All other photos taken from trailjournals.com.

 

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Bamadog, Chip Tillson, Class of 2018, Erwin, Guillotine Rock, Hard Knocks, Hiking, Hostel, Opa, Pearisburg, Pennsylvania, Pigweed, RTK, Sour Kraut, Thru-Hike, Tinker Cliffs, Vagabond Jack, Virginia, Which Way and Next Step | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Every Trail Challenge Complete!!

Rocky and I completed our last hike at Germantown Metropark and completed the Five River MetroPark thru-hike challenge. We had to hike the Orange Trail (7.5 miles) to conquer Germantown and to complete all the trails in the 19 MetroParks in the Dayton area (about 116 miles). We talked a lot about completing the challenge and how good it has been for us to have a walking goal.

Today’s hike (March 25th) was set in a beautiful context of bright blue, cloudless skies, cool temperatures that demanded gloves and a hat, and positive path conditions with very little mud. Rocky and I were a little tired from our 5.3-mile hike yesterday, but once the legs got stretched and body got warmed up we managed the distance just fine.

The Orange Trail makes a circuit around the MetroPark following Twin Creek from the Germantown Dam to Manning Road and back. Rocky and I jumped on the trail just southeast of the dam and enjoyed our strenuous hike through the Old Forest to the Welcome Center. We saw one of our librarian friends from the Miami Township Library, Theresa, on the trail. She is an avid hiker and was out hiking/running the hills.

GO Sign

The Orange Trail intersects with every other trail in the park as it makes its loop. The trail is marked with posts with color circles. As I was making a turn on the Orange Trail where it made a junction with the Green Trail I saw a post I needed to photograph. It is the perfect trail sign. The Green Trail marked with a Green G and the Orange Trail marked with an Orange O looked like the GO trail. I got a chuckle out of that.

The trail descends close to the creek several times during its route and there is great evidence of high water and flooding in the valley. Rocky and I were amazed at the debris and mud-covered tree trunks up to my shoulders. We wondered how traumatic and dramatic the creek must rage during those time of flash floods.

We ended our hike by coming across the spillway and through the woods to the parking lot. We took one another’s picture at the trail-head and celebrated our thru-hike. I told her we should go out and order a pizza (one for each of us) and eat a half gallon of ice-cream, but then I remembered that this was not the Appalachian Trail. Instead, we got in our car, came home and I ate a power-bar.

We filled out our trail logs and Rocky email them to the MetroPark coordinator. Hopefully, we will get our thru-hiker patch soon and celebrate once again.

So now what? Rocky and I are pretty excited about another challenge called the Fourteen-State Challenge sponsored by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The challenge is to hike a portion of the AT in each of the 14 states it traverses. (Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine). There is a passport that you can take to various spots to get stamped and of course, there is a patch upon completion. This sound like it has our names written all over it. I’ll keep you posted.

Categories: Germantown MetroPark, Hiking, Local Hikes, Ohio, Rocky, Rowdy, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Germantown MetroPark – Day Two

Twin Creek at Germantown

Rocky and Rowdy are down to their last MetroPark – Germantown. We love this park and have spent many hours traversing the trails here, but we are systematically hiking all of the trails in all 19 MetroParks in the Dayton area. We have spent a little time here on March 16th hiking the Pink and Silver Trails. We are back (Saturday, March 24) to hike the trail loops close to the Welcome Center. There are five trail-heads (all loops) that start at the center for a total of 5.3 miles (Red, White, Blue, Green, and Yellow). The elevation change makes these 5.3 miles plenty to hike on a Saturday morning.

We started with the longest one (our typical approach) – the Yellow trail is 1.9 miles. Then we hiked Blue which is 1.0 mile and thirdly, White which is just 0.5 mile. We then crossed a boardwalk by the Welcome Center to hike Green (1.4 miles) and Red (another short half mile trail). The yellow trail leads down to Twin Creek. We noticed the roots of the trees along the bank eroding away and wondered how they were still standing. Some roots go deep and hold on in the midst of adversity. We all need some of those.

The trail was in great shape – there were a few muddy spots, but, by and large, the path was enjoyable and safely navigated. Rocky and I thoroughly enjoyed breathing in the cool outside air and hearing the sounds and sights of early spring. The birds seemed to agree with us as we saw and heard many varieties lifting their voices in song.

Great Old Tree at Germantown

The Yellow Trail take backpackers to the Oak Ridge Backcounty Campsite. Rocky and I did not stop by the camping area, but I have camped here during my preparation for hiking the Appalachian Trail. There is a pond at the center of three campsites and the night I stayed there must have been the weekend of the frog convention because the bullfrogs were croaking from dusk to dawn. A great and memorable story that I don’t desire to relive, but I think about it everytime I pass the turnoff to the campsites.

Rocky found some trash along the trail and in the spirit of Leave No Trace, she picked it up and carried it back to the Welcome Center. It was open and the woman in charge invited us in. It is still under renovation but it should be nice when completed. A few bird-watchers were inside where there is a perfect observation room with large glass panels. They were counting and documenting all the birds they could see as part of an ornithology project. It was fun to listen to them share their expertise. I wish I knew more about bird identification by sight and sound.

Another view by the creek

We saw a few hikers on the trail today but for the most part, we were by ourselves, which is the way I like it. We can talk and pray and enjoy being together. One more day at Germantown and we will have completed our challenge. The MetroParks provide a patch for documented thru-hikers – isn’t it amazing what we will do for a patch!

They say that hiking outside in the fresh air helps to increase your positive endorphins, to strengthen your heart, to increase energy levels, to lower blood pressure, to improve muscle tone, to reduce body fat, to reduce stress, to ward off anxiety and to improve sleep. I am not sure about all that, but we sure do enjoy it. Consider scheduling a hike – the weather is about to warm up. If you live in the Dayton area, I’d urge you to check out the metropark system. If not, maybe there is a wonderful trail nearby.

Categories: Germantown MetroPark, Hiking, Local Hikes, MetroPark, Ohio, Rocky, Rowdy, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rocky and Rowdy Conquering the MetroParks

Wegerzyn MetroPark

On our quest to hike all the trails on the 19 Metroparks in the Dayton Area, Rocky and I set out on a super Friday in March (16th) to complete the two “W”s – Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark and Wesleyan MetroPark. Wegerzyn is about 30 minutes from our home and then another 10-minute drive would connect us to Wesleyan. Both parks had short unmarked hiking trails, but we were not sure how long they were.

Rocky at Wegerzyn

Arriving at Wegerzyn was a blast from the past as Rocky and I lived in this area of the city before moving to Springboro about 12 years ago. The park is beautiful and, as the name implies, it is a series of gardens: there is a children’s garden, an arbor garden, a federal garden, an English garden, a Victoria garden and a woodland garden. Because of the time of year (March 16) and the extended cold weather, the beauty of the gardens had not yet turned majestic, but we promised ourselves a return visit (with our twin granddaughters) in a few months. Our hike was the Marie Aull trail, a loop around the eastern boundary of the park. It was beautiful and I took more pictures here than most trails because of the striking surroundings. The loop was quite short (maybe a mile or so) and the park was so peaceful and quiet.

Wolf Creek at Wesleyan

Our car was patiently waiting for us when we returned, so we hopped in the vehicle and made our way to Wesleyan. Rocky and I had hiked here last year and got twisted around trying to find the trails. We were a little concerned about the navigation of this park. We parked on Wesleyan Road and found the pavilion on the east side of the area. We carefully followed the map down to the Wesleyan Annex and easily found the trail. It was another short trail that led up through the woods and opened on top of a small hill overlooking Wolf Creek. We walked down to the creek and enjoyed looking for birds around the water.

From this trailhead at Wesleyan, we followed a paved pathway across the creek to Adventure Central, a community youth center introducing neighborhood children and youth to afterschool programs, summer day camps, and an annual overnight camp experience. We did not check to see if the center was open but we found the loop trail behind it. It was a very short trail and we were done before we knew it.

Favorite Tree at Sunfish Pond

When Rocky and I got back to the car, it was still mid-morning, so we decided to travel out to Germantown MetroPark and begin hiking our last MetroPark in our challenge. We knew that we would need multiple days at Germantown because it is a trial with some excellent hills and includes about 17 miles of trail. Quickly looking at the map, we thought that if we could knock out the Pink Loop (2.6 miles) and then drive to the Silver Loop (1.6 miles) that would only leave 12.8 miles – very manageable in two more days.

We made our way to the parking lot off Conservancy Road and quickly picked up the Pink Trail. We hiked the trail in the counterclockwise direction and walked past Sunfish Pond, then down the hill where the trail gives you a quick view of Twin Creek. The trail can be very muddy in this area, but it was passable today with just a little slip and slide and mud caked to the bottom of our shoes. The terrain was quick a contrast to our morning, but we loved it. Germantown is our favorite MetroPark. After making the circuit, we drove across the dam to another parking lot and completed the Silver Loop. It shares over half of its mileage with the Orange Trail and contains some thigh-screaming inclines. I am amazed at how well Rocky climbs the hills – even at the end of several hours of hiking. The second part of the Silver Trail is easier as it crosses a nice meadow complete with a bird blind. We were tired by the time we reached our car, but well pleased with the day’s adventure. We enjoyed the songs of the birds and the percussion concert performed by the woodpeckers. We are looking forward to returning to Germantown and finishing our Every Trail MetroPark Challenge.

Categories: Germantown MetroPark, Hiking, Local Hikes, MetroPark, Rocky, Rowdy, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taylorsville: Day Two

The Buckeye Loop

Our Sunday evening church service on March 11th was canceled, so Rocky and I decided to return to Taylorsville MetroPark for an afternoon hike in hopes of finishing all the trails at the park. The day before we had walked the 6.8 miles of blazed trails and today we were headed toward the estimated 7 miles of unmarked trails including the Buckeye Trail Loop, the Bridgewater Loop, The Blue Heron Loop, and the Observation Deck Loop. I like the idea of a loop trail. They sound easy and, in theory, should just take the hiker in a nice, simple circle. However, because of our experience the day before on marked trails that were supposed to be loops but were hard to find, I was a little apprehensive about finding our way on unmarked trails.

Contrary to my misgivings, the trails on Day Two were easy to navigate and the loops were simple to follow. I think my favorite trail of the day was the Buckeye Trail Loop. It began with a long straight tunnel of trees that made the corridor a rather unusual experience. I want to return in the late spring/early summer when the leaves will provide a lush umbrella over the path. The loop turned south and led us along the Great Miami River for a lovely walk beside the water. The loop was about 2.5 miles and was quite flat and easy. I would recommend this trail to anyone wanting a nice easy stroll in the woods.

Rocky in the Gnarly Wood

We drove across the Taylorsville Dam to the east side and turned right down Bridgewater Road to the Bridgewater Loop. The entrances were closed so we parked our car along the road and hiked to the trailhead. This loop took us as well along the river on the opposite bank and further south from the Buckeye loop. It was a shorter trail than the Buckeye loop and it had a little elevation change but not much – another easy trail.

Observation Deck Loop

Rocky and I hopped back into our Toyota and drove to a third area that had easy access to both the Blue Heron Loop and the Observation Deck Loop. We walked the Blue Heron Loop first and were greatly disappointed when we did not see one Blue Heron. The path circled an inland lake with ducks and geese but no heron was there posing for my camera. On the opposite side of the parking lot was the Observation Deck Loop. This trail basically encircled a large field. We thought it is was a rather boring trail until we saw two gorgeous bluebirds. Neither Rocky nor I had not seen bluebirds in years and it was a highlight of the day. It was a perfect way to end our time at Taylorsville MetroPark

It is always enjoyable to be with my wife on the trails and today was no exception. The weather was beautiful, the trail was relatively dry, and the conversation/prayer time was sweet. Three more MetroParks to go to complete our thru-hike challenge. Next up: Wesleyan and Wegerzyn.

Categories: Buckeye Trail, Hiking, Local Hikes, Rocky, Rowdy, Taylorsville MetroPark, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Hits Hard on the AT

Winter Appalachian Trail in March

I have been following 14thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail. They are all journaling on trailjournals.com and all 14 of them started either in January or February of 2018. The 2018 trail season so far has been wet and then cold and then snowy. The weather has taken its toll on some of the hikers and has caused some slower pace for many.

Five of the original fourteen are off the trail, at least temporarily. Genesis the earliest hiker, began his journey on January 14th. He hiked from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to Caledonia State Park close to his home in Pennsylvania. He then came south to Georgia, hiked for six days beginning art Springer Mountain until coming off Blue Mountain, GA, (50 mile-marker) soreness in both knees forced him back to Pennsylvania. After two weeks of rest and recovery, Genesis returned to the trail of Georgia (March 23). Three days and 19.6 miles later, he realized that his knees were not going to support his trek. He returned to Pennsylvania with hopes of trying again in late April.

Zin Master started January 23 and went off-trail with tendinitis on February 27. He and his wife, Peaches, and dog, Moxie have recently traveled to Kingsport, Tennessee, where Zin is doing some day hikes.

Class Act

Class Act was hit hard by the cold temperatures and the overcrowded shelters. He was in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park when he realized that his slow pace was going to make his thru-hike impossible. Having begun his adventure on February 18, he jumped off the trail on March 16 having hiked about 182 miles of the AT, averaging a little more than 6.7 miles per day. He hopes to do some sections hikes I the near future.

Dave Snow and his dog, Abbie, began their thru-hike attempt on February 26th. I am assuming that they are off-trail because he has not entered a post for 16 days. I will continue to check his journal, but for now, I have noted that he is off-trail without comment.

Pigweed

The fifth hiker to recently call a halt to his hike is Pigweed, Lee Richards from Delaware. Pigweed began his AT adventure on February 27th, hiked 165 miles, and ended his hike at Fontana Dam just south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He suffered an ankle injury that would not respond to rest. He took four zero days at Wolf Creek Hostel near Stecoah Gap, North Carolina, but after returning to two painful days of hiking, Pigweed decided to head back home and seek doctor’s care.

I will post an update on the remaining nine hikers tomorrow (March 29). A few have not posted for several days but hopefully, they will all check in today.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Class Act, Class of 2018, Genesis, Georgia, Hiking, Pigweed, Thru-Hike, Trail, Zin Master | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.