Saturday was another of the Columbus MetroParks Adventure Hikes with Parks Director John O’Meara.
With all the rain, I of course went with my completely waterproof feet.
As the day approached, it was pretty clear that it would be a wet one. For one brief moment of stupidity, I wondered if they’d cancel. Hey, John O’Meara went to Mt. Everest. Why would he cancel for a little rain at around 50°? Silly me.
But I did do a bit of a special preparation for my feet. I’ve written before about heel creams that contain urea as being great for stopping heel cracks. Of the two on the market, Flexitol is less oily and Gold Bond Foot Cream is oilier. With the wetness, I made sure to apply the oilier.
The other concession I made to the weather was that I did not bring my good camera, not wanting it to get damaged. So I brought my older, cheaper (a lot cheaper) camera. This was a choice I was to regret a bit.
We started at a different location: the park office at Starner House, right next to Written Rock. This hike was not on the official trails of Clear Creek, but a different set of trails on the south side of the creek. These trails are closed to the public (in keeping with Clear Creek Metro Park being a Nature Preserve) and can only be visited under the supervision of park personnel.
The hike was a combination hike: first to the “Ice Cave” and then to Winnowing Rock. The total hike ended up being a bit shorter than the other ones: a bit under 10 miles. But being able to visit the lesser-visited parts of the park made it well worth it.
Unfortunately, with the rain and fog and mist, my cheap camera wasn’t really able to handle things, and none of my pictures along the ice cave portion turned out. To compensate, though, here’s a picture of the ice cave I took in February about 2 years ago:
Obviously, there was no ice on Saturday’s visit.
We did do quite a bit of hiking back there, though, taking a bit of a roundabout route to get there (it was supposed to be an “adventure” hike, after all). We actually passed through a few closed gates, which I didn’t get at the time, but later I figured out that we had actually passed onto the property of The Buckeye Ranch and hiked a bit on their access trails.
Hiking back there also gave me a chance to have some fun updating my maps, and also seeing how these trails that were new to me lined up with what I thought I’d figured out when I’d visited the Ice Cave before.
As always, it is always fun to use Ohio’s LiDAR data to create my own topo map, so here’s what the Ice Cave area looks like:
The cave itself is at the spot in the lower right where all the lines get really close together.
But the LiDAR can also be used for another purpose: spotting the trails themselves. I’ve written an algorithm that looks for deviations from the average terrain in an area, and trails will often show up with that (as, as I’ve noted before, the Earthworks at Newark). Here’s what that processing produced (it’s all in a bunch of false colors).
The Ice Cave itself shows up spectacularly, but if you also look closely, you can see gently curving lines. Those are the trails we walked on. (The large diagonal one in the upper right is Clear Creek itself.) So that allowed me to perfectly position the trails on my website topo maps (based on the USGS maps). Here’s what I produced in the area of the Ice Cave.
From the Ice Cave we then headed over to Benua House, along Lake Emily. The Benuas were one of the major benefactors who donated the land for the park.
You can get a feel for the kind of day it was. At this point it had stopped raining, so my poncho is off (but not for long).
We then headed for the Lake Emily dam, and here are some of the other hikers.
The rain and the mist actually were quite beautiful, and the temperatures made it extremely tolerable.
From there, we headed to Winnowing Rock, which is at the southernmost part of the property. Along the way, we saw that the skunk cabbage was coming up.
This plant actually generates its own heat, and in January and February it can be found poking up through ice or snow, having melted the frozen concoction around it.
There is some really nice moss on the top of Winnowing Rock. Really nice.
Also, obviously, my feet are none the worse for the wear of the hike.
The property next to the park is a new development, “Snortin Ridge Farm”, and Snortin Ridge Farm Lake was also visible below. (Now you see where the title of this piece comes from.)
When they built the dam, they very carefully routed the outflow over a rock formation, giving a rather impressive waterfall. On our way back from Winnowing Rock we made a special side detour to take a peek at it. (Fortunately, one of the two shots from my cheap camera turned out ok.)
That alone made the hike worth the trip.
The next Adventure Hike is January 12.