I’ve mentioned before that this is a great time of year to acclimate to cooler temperatures. One reason for this is that it takes the ground a lot longer to cool off than the air. Our lows the past couple of days have been down around 25° and the highs have been in the 40s.
That means that on barefoot hikes the ground, which hasn’t had a chance to cool off much yet, will allow easy hiking while the air temperatures are cool.
I had a chance to get to Hocking Hills yesterday.
When I started the hike the air temperature was around 41°. There had definitely been some frost, and in a few places the ground was still a bit crunchy. My take-off point was Rock House, but the hike concentrated on the trails south of it. (I stayed on this map.)
I’d never been down that blue-colored trail on the west there, and I thought I’d do so to properly locate it. So, I started with a mile on Thompson Road, and then located where the trail joins. It’s not quite where I currently have it shown, so I’ll need to fix that.
At the Red Bridle Trail, things started cooling off quickly. I’ve mentioned before just the sort of damage horse do to trails. Their hooves just chew up the mud and you get these thick, muddy, gloppy wet areas. Cold thick, muddy, gloppy wet areas. We’ve had a lot of raid lately, and I was down near Little Pine Creek. Glop-city.
In The Germs Have Eyes, I pointed out that if you are barefoot and your feet get wet, they dry off almost immediately (while if that happens with shoes, they stay wet). Well, that only works if you are not slogging through wetness and your feet actually have a chance to dry off.
Mine didn’t, so despite the warmer ground, the water conducted a fair bit of warmth from my feet. Not a lot, but enough to be just a tad uncomfortable right off the bat.
After I climbed a bit and attained a ridge top, things were fine again as the trail finally dried out again.
I made my way to Weinkoop Cave, which I last visited over the summer (last two pictures there). Before I looked at it from up top; this time I decided to work my way down into it. It was well worth the effort.
Here’s the entrance:
This was actually the north fork of the hollow; the other picture is of the east fork.
The sides were so steep, I had to walk right in the stream-bed. Now, this wasn’t particularly cold, since I could mainly walk beside the water, or on a rock or log. When I did have to step in the water (refreshing!), my next step was dry, and my feet rewarmed immediately.
Here’s the waterfall:
and here’s the waterfall ruined by extraneous material:
As I exited the cave area (steep climb just perfect for gripping toes), I could see the effect of the overnight freezing temperatures. As water drips from above at these caves, it freezes on the twigs it hits. Those twigs are not warmed by the earth, so they managed to retain their icy coatings:
On my way back towards my car, I headed north on the Purple Bridle Trail, alongside Call Hollow. I hadn’t been on that trail in a while, and I’d never looked into the cave at its tip, even though I had passed it many times in the past. So here’s Call Falls (stitched together two shots):
There is this kind of wonderful stuff all throughout Hocking Hills, and so many people are just unaware of it because they concentrate on the big-name locations.
What I like about this set of falls is the high one up top, and then down near the bottom is that little circular pool (slightly hidden by that large fallen log). There was ice around here, too. This time the water had fallen onto collected leaves, and again they sat above the warmer ground:
I liked they little circular pool so much I thought I’d try to take an artsy-fartsy picture. So here’s a picture taken from inside the pool. The close falls is about a foot and a half high (and I’m about 3 feet from it). Then behind you can see the high falls.
This was again a place where bare feet were perfect, since I had to stand right in the pool to take the picture.
That would have soaked sneakers. The water didn’t even feel all that cold any more, since I’d been hiking for over 2 hours and my feet were well-warmed and conditioned by the experience.
And of course, after I exited the pool, they dried off quickly.