Fellow barefooter Lee Parker, the Chatauqua Barefooter, is in town this weekend for the Flint Ridge Knap-In. I met him last year at the same event, and we had time to take a short stroll along the Flint Ridge trail.
This time he came a day early, so we had the chance yesterday to head on down to Hocking Hills for something serious.
There is so much to see at Hocking Hills, so where does one take a new visitor? I’ve been to the usual highlights (e.g., Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls) so often that I spend a lot more of my time at Hocking Hills elsewhere, trying to discover some of the more hidden gems. But I finally realized that at this point, they’d all be hidden gems for Lee, so Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls it was. I did decide to modify things a bit by also throwing in Rose Lake. That was so that the hike wouldn’t be a simple out-and-back in the gorge. Well, that and Rose Lake is quite pretty and fun to hike along.
I should start by mentioning that the road reorientation around the park is proceeding apace. They are moving Rte. 664 so that after people park they don’t have to cross a busy highway. But that meant that there was construction everywhere, and reroutes on getting to the trails.
We started by tipping our toes into the gorge at the very top, the Upper Falls at Old Man’s Cave. My thought was to head down, just to whet Lee’s appetite, then head back up, over the A-frame bridge and over to Rose Lake.
Here’s Lee looking at the Devil’s Bathtub.
When the water is running, the water is a lot deeper and swirling like it could take you all the way down to Hades. But it’s been so dry here (as elsewhere) that nothing was flowing. That did, though, allow a better look at more of the rock formation.
From there were left the gorge and headed over to Rose Lake. Just a few of the trees were changing colors (I suspect that the dryness is prompting it). Here’s a shot from the bird blind at the tip of the lake, looking down at the dam.
One of the really fun things about hiking this with Lee was realizing how jaded I’ve become hiking here. The rock formations tend to become a-dime-a-dozen, but they were all new to him, and we spent a lot of time looking at many of them more closely. He is also much better than I am at seeing what he is walking through. He was always spotting something wildlife-related, and taking pictures of mushrooms, or slime-coated spider webs. In the bird blind he pointed out for me where some wasp nests had been removed, along with a sparrow’s nest. Lee was an excellent anti-jading treatment.
After leaving Rose Lake, we joined the Bridle Trail heading to Cedar Falls. This trail was in pretty poor shape, still reeling from all the storms at the end of June. Many trees were down, and there were detours around them all over the place. Made for some interesting barefooting.
Along the trail we just had to stop for this spider web that was being hit just perfectly by the light.
I’ve mentioned before that when you get to Cedar Falls along the Rim Trail (which the Bridle Trail joins right at the end) there is a bridge to cross. A bridge with a non-slip deck. And holes. And spikes.
It can be handled in bare feet; you just have to take it slowly.
We also stopped in the middle to take this picture down through the decking of the dry stream bed below.
We then arrived at Cedar Falls, which is not running at all. The dryness again.
It looks like the water level of the pool there is down about two feet, and who knows if it might not dry up completely. You can also see a new addition to the pool: that fallen tree, another reminder of the June derecho.
We then walked back in the gorge itself, again taking our time with all the scenery. Lee was particularly good at finding muddy spots (a real challenge with the dryness) and walking through them.
We also discovered that we shared an interest in Celtic Bagpipe Rock. So we spent the trip back to Flint Ridge listening to Rare Air.