Yesterday was another of the organized long hikes at Clear Creek Metro Park. You may recall that the Executive Director of the Metro Parks is Training for Mt. Everest. There were about 20 people on the hike. I was the only barefoot one.
The hike was about twelve and a half miles, with elevations changes of around 300 feet. It was also right at the start of the leaves changing color and, due to the constant 25 mile-an-hour wind, a lot of leaves on the ground.
Those leaves have both pluses and minuses.
One of the pluses is that the leaves provide a bit of cushioning for bare soles. One of the minuses is that the leaves hide a lot of stuff that I’d really rather not have stepped directly on. Oh, one other nice little plus is that the tannin in the leaves will often color one’s soles with a beautiful golden hue.
Here’s a bit of what the path looked like:
I had a bit of trouble on this hike: As I age my knees are getting less and less fond of downhills. The problem seems to be the cartilage on the outside edge of my knee joint. Last month I had trouble with my right knee, so yesterday I wore a knee brace on it, and it did fine. However, this time my left knee started up. Oh, well.
My soles held up fairly well, until right near the end. It was a pretty challenging surface.
Here’s about 4 miles into the hike. I’m afraid my bare feet don’t show up too well.
The return route took us along Cemetery Ridge Trail. For a barefooter, the trouble with this trail is that it is more-or-less a gravel road. (There are well-heads along the trail, and the heavy trucks need access for maintenance. Even worse, the gravel was fairly recently “refreshed”. There is nothing worse than chipped limestone for trying to walk barefooted.) Here you can see what the trail looks like there::
There are a few grassy parts on the sides, but the leaves made it difficult to see if there were any pieces of the gravel underneath that had gotten pushed over there.
Near the end of the hike, on the final descent, it does get a bit less rocky. I was feeling it a bit on my soles, but again it was really my knee that was the least happy.
In that picture you can see one of the park volunteers (Barbara), and the Park Manager, Ken Browne, who I know fairly well from a number of places.
The cool thing on this hike is that the other participants were the Executive Director of Metro Parks, and the Park Manager. Neither of them ever even considered claiming that I would not be allowed to do the hike because I was barefoot. If anything, they were intrigued. Now contrast that with Library personnel, who are absolutely convinced that all levels of danger exist in their libraries and that they need to ban bare feet. Hrrrmph.
So, my the end of the hike me feet were a bit tender. Not too bad, though, though some of that might be the endorphins that built up during the hike.
And I wasn’t done. It was a beautiful day, and I really wanted to get a picture of an interesting landmark on my way home. So I stopped at Rock Mill Dam with my camera, zoom lens, and tripod. By that time the endorphins had worn off, and my feet really did feel tender.
However, by just taking it slowly, I was able to head in to where I wanted to take my picture. Along the way, Rock Mill Lake was looking quite pretty:
And then here’s the shot I was going for.
This is the Standing Stone (achsinnink in Lenâpé), a prominent landmark in Lancaster (it’s the location of Rising Park). Here I’m shooting about 5 miles across the Hocking River valley. I had hoped that it would also have fall colors, but it obviously hasn’t changed yet. Nonetheless, I rather like the picture.