Posts Tagged With: Ohio

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

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

He Is Risen!!

The heavens declare the glory of God

A Foggy Morning in Massachusetts – 2014

 

When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Rangeley, Maine 2014

 

Categories: Trail Worship, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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

Rocky and Rowdy at Taylorsville MetroPark

Rocky and I have been working on a hiking challenge over the last several months. It is called the Every Trail MetroPark Challenge sponsored by the Five Rivers MetroPark system. The goal of the challenge is to hike every trail in the 19 Metroparks in the Dayton, Ohio area. The challenge involves a little over 116 miles and the thru-hiker has one calendar year to complete the task. Rocky and I finished our last trail just this past Sunday, but I am getting ahead of myself. Last time I posted we still had four parks to complete, so let me back up and share some details of our adventure, beginning with Taylorsville MetroPark.

Our plan for Taylorsville was a two-day experience. Instead of trying to hike 14 miles in one day, we decided to walk the 6.8-miles of blazed trails on Saturday, March 10th and leave 7 miles of estimated unmarked trails for another time. We started our hike on the far side of Taylorsville Dam by hiking the yellow (1.2 miles), orange (3.2 miles) and green (0.4 miles) loops. The weather was below freezing when we started which maintained a firm path despite the moisture on the trail. The beautiful hike took us through stark but lovely forest and down along the Great Miami River. The moderate elevation change made the journey fun with some ups and downs to navigate. Our legs and lungs got a little work-out which really felt good after being somewhat cooped up over the last few winter weeks. I failed to read the maps very well on this outing and we found ourselves missing key turns twice during the hike, adding some mileage to our walk as we backtracked to get on course.

Once getting back to the parking lot, we drove to another part of the park east of the dam to complete the violet (0.8-miles), the blue (0.9-mile), and the white (0.3-mile) loops. The loops on the map looked so easy and they shared so much of the same terrain that it looked like a very simple excursion. However, we found the trails very confusing. The path had several maps along the way, but they were all the same and only one indicated where we were on the map. We hiked as best we could around the trails spending close to two hours trying to figure it out. We went around in circles, through parking lots and along roads looking for clarity. I estimated that we trekked about 5 miles but it might not have been the exact 2-miles outlined on the map. This is one area that really needs some blazing and better signage to help the hiker understand the trails.

Despite the frustration of walking without the confidence of destination, Rocky and I enjoyed the beautiful day and the beginning sights of spring. Little did we know that snow was on the way and that March would both come in and go out like a lion.

Next Post: Day Two at Taylorsville

Categories: Local Hikes, MetroPark, Rocky, Rowdy, Taylorsville MetroPark, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Captain Blue on the Blue Blazes

The Buckeye Trail is one very long loop trail…. 1,444 miles around the entire state of Ohio. I have hiked on several sections of it because the trail travels right through the city of Dayton. One of my favorite trail in the area is located at Caesar Creek State Park near Waynesville, Ohio – it is part of the Buckeye Trail. Much of the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail bike trail between Cincinnati and Springfield is part of the trail. Deed’s Point in downtown Dayton is on the trail as well.

I have been fascinated by the Buckeye trail for several years and have read a few books about this unique looped long trail. I have just finished reading a book by Andy Niekamp, Captain Blue, who was the first person to solo thru-hike the trail back in 2011. It took him 88 days and a boatload of determination and perseverance. The book is called Captain Blue on the Blue Blazes and is available on Amazon.

Captain Blue is from Kettering, Ohio but he has been an adventurer for many years.  Captain Blue is an experienced hiker who has logged 14,000 miles in more than 30 states coast-to-coast including 9,500 miles on the Appalachian Trail. I have heard him speak several times and he is a powerful advocate for the outdoors.

Andy began and ended his hike in Dayton. His first steps were taken on March 20 and he ended up back at Deeds Point on June 15, 2011. His 88 days are filled with wonderful stories of support and networking, of kindness from trail angels around the state, of rain and frustrating unmarked trail, and of beautifully blazed sections along country roads, through towns and cities, across old canal towpaths, and through history-rich communities at all four corners the state. Captain Blue even includes a love story into his book that adds a special dimension to the trail.

I’d encourage you to take a look at this book that records Captain Blue’s historic thru-hike of the Buckeye Trail. Click on the book cover for a link to Amazon.

Categories: Buckeye Trail, Captain Blue, Deeds Point, Ohio, Thru-Hike, Trail, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Rocky and Rowdy at Possum Creek

Rocky and I are still on our quest to thru-hike all the trails in the MetroPark System in the Greater Dayton, Ohio area. We have several parks to conquer, but the target on Saturday, March 3rd, was Possum Creek MetroPark off Frytown Road. The day was sunny and clear although a little chilly (high 30s-low 40’s). We layered up, grabbed our trekking poles, and headed out after breakfast.

There are seven color-blazed trails at Possum Creek totally 9.2 miles. We parked just north of Argonne Lake and hiked the three loop trails that depart from this parking lot (purple – 1.4 miles, pink – 1.2 miles, and blue – 1 miles around the lake). We retraced a portion of the blue trail (0.4 miles) in order to connect with the longest trail – orange – 3.5 miles. We hiked a substantial portion of the orange trail (including a short side trail – blazed green – to the farm and back) until we came to the northern trailhead for orange, red and yellow loop trails. We hiked the yellow loop through the Tall Grass and Jean V. Woodhull Prairies. Then we walked the red loop (only half a mile) which was a short trail cutting across the Tall Grass Prairie. Finally, we completed the orange trail through a marshy area, alongside some fishing ponds, and once again around Argonne Lake.

The terrain is nice and flat with very little elevation change. Our biggest challenge was the swampy nature of the path. We have had a good deal of rain in recent weeks and this park tends to retain that water along the flat trails through the prairies and marsh areas. But the day was lovely and the company was wonderful. I always enjoy my time with Rocky. We have great conversations, we laugh a lot at ourselves, and we have look forward to praying together as we walk.

Dance Floor

Argonne lake was beautiful although the ducks on the pond did not seem to appreciate our presence. The trail took us between some catch and release fishing ponds with lots of hopeful fishermen trying their skills. I didn’t see any poles bent over with the weight of a catch, but the fishermen looked content, bundled up against the cold breeze whipping across the waters. I also enjoyed seeing the remnants of Argonne Forest Park (an amusement park in the 1930s and early 1940s) in the North West corner of this Metropark including old streetcars and a dance hall.

With wet feet and encouraged hearts, Rocky and I pounded some knuckles in victory as we checked off the mileage on our trail chart. The short ride home down I-75 was safe and sound. Getting out of the car after sitting for a while was not as easy. The muscles had tightened up and began to complain a bit when we needed them to limp into the house. A few grunts and groans later, we were safe inside and preparing some food for an afternoon snack.

Categories: Local Hikes, MetroPark, Ohio, Rocky, Thru-Hike, Trail, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

A Hike at Englewood

The first day of February in Dayton, Ohio, threatened to be filled with rain, but when Rocky checked her phone app at 6:15 am, the prediction had changed. It was in the mid-40’s and was to remain stable until after 1:00 when the slide was to tumble down into the teens. No rain was showing on the Doppler Radar until the afternoon as well. So…. Rocky and Rowdy quickly planned a morning hike at Englewood MetroPark as part of our thru-hike of the local park system.

We have hiked this park several times over the years but we needed an official log during this season. There are seven loop trails at Englewood, but the total distance is only 8.4 miles. We knew that the path might be soggy but we also knew that we wanted to take a walk and breath in some fresh air. It is not a short drive (about 40 minutes) up the I-75N to I-70W and then onto Route 40 to the entrance, but traffic was thin and it was a valuable time to share and catch up on our week.

We started the hike with the shortest loop (Black Blaze = 0.4 miles) just to get our blood moving and our joints lubricated. We then broadened our strides and went for the 3.8-mile Green Trail leading up to Martindale Falls. The path was really in decent shape with puddles that were easily avoided until we came down the eastern side along the Stillwater River. The mud began to cake on our shoes and made walking a little slower. It is amazing how much mud can weigh as it adheres to your sole (soul). (I think there is a major analogy there but I will let you consider it.)

As we hiked along the river, we noticed one, two, three deer staring at us from a grove of trees. Two remained perfectly still just looking at the pair of super-hikers, but number three freaked out and started to bound through the underbrush, his white tail serving as a wonderful flag to follow his movements. A short distance further down the trail we discovered the deer’s destination – deer number four was waiting for him to arrive. They continued to dart into the woods until we could no longer see their bright whitetails.

I am always thrilled to see deer in the woods. They make the forest come alive for me with the wonder of the wild. Rocky loves the river because she is always on the lookout for herons and cranes doing some fishing or wading. As she was scouting out the water’s surface, she looked up and pointed, “Look, a bald eagle!” I could not believe – A BALD EAGLE. The majestic bird flew down the river providing a portrait worth painting. I did not want to take my eyes off the bird to find my camera, so I did not get a picture. I have hiked a lot of miles but I have never seen a bald eagle – 9:45 on February 1, 2018 – what a special event for us.

The trails at Englewood are all loops but they do not overlap very much and each one is quite distinctive. There are several nice waterfalls, a little elevation change that provides some cardio, and easy access to the trailheads. This is a great park to visit if you want to try some hiking without the danger of major hills and dales.

We conquered all the marked trails at Englewood. Rocky and Rowdy checked off all 8.4 miles on their log, enjoyed the drive home, and had some lunch before the cold weather invaded the day.

Categories: Englewood MetroPark, Local Hikes, Ohio, Rocky, Thru-Hike, Trail | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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