I wrote last week about getting Lost at Zaleski State Forest. Today I thought I would write about what I later went back and found there.
I decided I’d see how easy it would be to circumnavigate Lake Hope.
Lake Hope State Park and Zaleski State Forest are like a lot of the parks in Ohio: a smaller state park with general recreation is surrounded by a larger state forest. The highlight of Lake Hope is, not surprisingly, the lake, which was created by putting a dam across Big Sandy Run. (When I got lost, I was hiking along Little Sandy Run.)
It is interesting to see what things looked like before the dam. Here is a topo map of the area today:
And here is what things looked like in 1907 (carefully scaled to the same size):
You can see that the lake itself is only about 16 feet deep at its deepest, and that it is awfully shallow along much of its footprint.
I’ve circumnavigated Lake Hope before. There’s the Hope Furnace trail that runs along the northern edge, and there’s the Peninsula trail that runs on the southern edge. The problem is the area south of the dam to the peninsula.
No trails, just road (which is really no fun at all for hiking).
Furthermore, the forest south of the road was in private hands.
I say was. Here you can compare forest brochures showing land ownership from about 10 years ago (on the left), and now (on the right):
Ah. You can see that they’ve acquired new land south of the road. Looks like a perfect opportunity to do a bit of exploratory bushwhacking.
Again, these are cellphone pictures—my good camera is still on the fritz (which was a real shame because otherwise I would have gotten a decent picture of the snowy egret that was in the area).
I started up the Peninsula trail, and here’s what the really shallow end of the lake looks like:
During the summer that whole area fills with water lilies and other plants that like to live in shallow water. You can see some of their remains left over from the winter.
One nice thing about hiking in this area are the jack tar pine trees. They give a very interesting surface to walk on.
The pine needles are soft, but with a rather firm texture. But one also has to keep a pretty close eye out for exposed pine roots, for there are a lot of them at the surface.
When the Peninsula trail hit the road to the Lake Hope Lodge (currently being reconstructed after a fire), that’s where I crossed the road and started bushwhacking. It looked like it should be an easy bushwhack, and it was.
Crossing the road and bearing a bit to the right led me up a small hollow (just as my topo map showed). That led me to another of the little gems that come from this bushwhacking: a small waterfall and recess cave.
The cave is the dark stuff below, sitting about 15 feet below where I am standing. Next time I descend into it.
And here’s the view from the top of the waterfall, where the water has denuded the rock of any life.
I’ve mentioned before that I rarely use a compass, and only occasionally use the sun. The technique I use, which is quite suited to southeastern Ohio, is valley and ridge land navigation. Because that is the main topography of the region, one can keep track of where one is by knowing what valley or ridge you are at, and by keeping track of the other valleys and ridges in the area. So, here’s a bit of a primer on the technique.
Use the following map as reference:
By the way, you can see the old propertyship lines here. Anyways, you can see how I ascended up the small hollow. Hard to get lost there.
One I looked at the waterfall and cave, I wanted to climb to the top of the ridge. That just entailed crossing the creek and climbing the hill right in front of me (no real need to know that that was southwest). At the top, it was clear from the map I needed to bear left to head to the main ridge. So I did so, remaining on the crest of the ridge and looking for another piece of the ridge coming in from the left.
When I met that (it was quite obvious), I turned right.
The next challenge was where, on the map, I’ve changed my route from red to blue. At that point, I could only see one descending ridge in front of me. I wanted to make sure I headed down the correct one (labeled 1), not the incorrect one (labeled 2).
And, like I said, the lay of the land was such that I could only see one ridge “nose” around me.
So the technique I used there was to go off the top of the ridge to the left side (follow the blue marking). By staying off the left side of the ridge, I was guaranteed to get to point 1.
Once I started doing that, there was also another topographic feature that let me confirm I’d gotten on the correct one: Where my path changed from blue to purple you can see that there is a saddle along the top of the ridge there. The top of the ridge goes down, and then comes back up again for a local high. Ridge 2 does not have that feature.
So when I did hit that saddle, I was sure I was on the right ridge-way, and I continued descending down it right to the dam.
By the way, even if I had somehow headed down ridge 2, I still would not have gotten lost: Once I hit the road it would have been obvious where I was because of the middle of the lake being right in front of me (also, that’s where the ranger station is).
End of primer.
Anyways, from there I had no problem continuing clockwise around the lake.
Let me finish with a picture of the same lobe I started out with, except this time, I’m on the other side looking back.
All in all, it was a nice little 8¼ mile hike.