Another of the local parks that is pretty much ideal for beginning barefooters (or those doing a bit of Rehab) is Charles Alley Park, part of the Lancaster City Park System. The park covers around 300 acres with about 6 miles of hiking trails. It is a kind of mini-Hocking Hills. It seemed a good place to go yesterday.
I had another reason for going.
I’ve kept track of my barefoot hiking mileage since 2006. Here’s the list of yearly totals as of yesterday morning:
- 2006: 259.3
- 2007: 166.3
- 2008: 273.6
- 2009: 352.5
- 2010: 219.0
- 2011: 272.5
Just a few more miles and I could move this year into second place. (2009 is the year I did the Walk with the Ancients, which added about 70 miles to what would have been my more usual total). I realize this is nowhere like the totals that barefoot runners do, but I enjoy the hiking.
Did I really need to work on second place? Of course not. It was just a convenient excuse to get me out of the house and get some exercise. The nice thing about Alley Park is that its trails go up and down (200-300 foot elevation changes) through the ridges and valleys of the park.
Alley Park does not have any of the recess caves that make Hocking Hills famous (though there are some in the area; Wahkeena State Nature Preserve, for instance), but it does have Blackhand Sandstone outcroppings. Here’s a view across one of its valleys:
The trail then winds around and heads through that rock outcropping:
The rock on the right there is a slump rock that long ago broke free (water/ice seeping into and cracking a seam in the sandstone) and slowly slumped downhill.
Another good reason to go to Alley Park was that I was able to bring along my dog, Tesserae (half Labrador Retriever and half Australian Shepherd):
Tesserae (shortened to “Tess”) has always enjoyed hiking with me. In case you are curious, “tesserae” are the tiles that make up mosaics. While you can see still that in her now (her black hair is now longer than her white hair), it was really pronounced 12 years ago when she was a puppy:
She’s slowed down a lot these days, so I really cannot take her on long hikes any more. But Alley Park is just perfect in that it allows dogs (nature preserves do not) and that the trail system is short enough that she can still handle it. Plus, with me being careful with the newly-grown skin on my own foot, Alley Park was the place to go.
We ended up doing about 2.5 miles with 3 up-and-downs. Good exercise, great views, nice nature. I suspect, though, that Tess’ comment about the hike might be “great smells, cheeky squirrels, many good places to pee.” That 2.5 miles put my total for the year up to 274.9 miles of barefoot hiking.
Oh, and Tess hikes barefoot, too.