Saturday was another of the “Adventure Hikes” at Clear Creek Metro Park, led by their Executive Director, John O’Meara. He started them last year when he was training to climb Mt. Everest, and they were so popular that he has continued them this year.
They are fairly strenuous, with this one covering 12.3 miles in just under 5 hours (and that includes the stop at a scenic location and for lunch).
They also tend to make barefoot hiking a bit more of a challenge.
These hikes are limited to 25 people, and they are having no problem filling them up. Not only that, but the expectations of the hikers are closer to the rigors of the hike. When the hikes first started, quite a few folks weren’t up for them and would lag quite a distance behind. This time, while we spread out, we never got all that badly spread.
Here we are early on traversing the Fern Trail.
It was also interesting to see that maybe 8 of the hikers had never even been to Clear Creek before. So the hike was a good mix of “old timers” and newbies. (It also gave some new people the chance to see barefoot hiking in action.)
One of the first thing we all did upon arriving in the parking lot was remark on the temperature. Many of us had come down from Columbus, where the temperature was around 36°. As we dropped into the Hocking valley, it quickly dropped 4°, and then another 2° in the Clear Creek valley.
This area is always colder than Columbus, even though south of it. It is caused when the cold air slides down the hills into the valleys (cold air being heavier than warm air).
30° is a bit of a challenge on bare feet. By the time we got started hiking mine were a bit chilled. But the exercise of walking helped out, and by the time we got to the top of the first hill, all the warmth by body generated had been pushed all the way down to my toes, and from that point onward my only problem was delayering as I tried not to get too hot.
This hike had a special off-trail leg to Buzzard’s Roost. Since Clear Creek is a nature preserve (Ohio’s largest!), people are not allowed to leave the trails. However, during the cold months (so as not to disturb sensitive plants or nesting birds, etc.) they will occasionally have guided hikes to remote and interesting parts of the park, such as what was done with Beck’s Rocks.
Buzzard’s Roost is one of those large Blacksand Sandstone overlooks that predomonates in the Hocking Hills region. Here is one of the hikers at the Roost, looking scenic.
And here’s one of the not-so-scenic hikers, with some pretty nice Clear Creek scenery behind, looking upvalley.
Here’s the view looking downvalley from Buzzard’s Roost (I had to shoot this one looking almost directly into the sun).
You can see the creek shining through at a few spots there. That very narrow area (right in front of the hill rising in the distant middle of the picture used to be (thousands of years ago) a divide, with one creek heading west from there, and other heading east. When the glaciers came, they stopped just to the east, had a lake form behind them, and then had the water overtop the divide and cut a channel through it. From then on, Clear Creek has flowed only east. I wrote more about this in Clear Creek Captured.
That hill right in the middle has “Memory Rock” at the top, a tribute to one of the families that contributed a large chunk of the property for the park. From there you can get a pretty good view back at Buzzard’s Roost. There was an organized hike to Memory Rock about a year ago, and here is my shot from there looking back at Buzzard’s Roost, which is that small rocky outcrop looking up the valley.
Here’s a close-up view.
That’s where we were on Saturday.
We spent a bit of time there on Buzzard’s Roost, so here’s a few shots of the hikers.
Again, that’s the scenery looking upvalley. And in this one, John O’Mear’s in the green baseball cap. Also, obviously, is was a beautiful day for a hike.
Also notice the scrub pines (no, I don’t know what species). These trees are very often the only ones that grab a purchase on these rock outcroppings.
The bushwhack to Buzzard’s Roost was one of the places I did have a bit of a problem. We were hoofing it so fast that I did not have the time I usually take when going through green briars. I had no problems with my soles, but when lifting my feet I was not as careful and managed to scratch the tops of my feet a bit. But that’s not really a problem and they’ll heal quickly.
We stopped for lunch around noon at the Barnebey-Hambleton picnic area on the west end of the park. Again, you can get a good view of the Clear Creek valley and accompanying hills off in the distance.
From there it was a 5-mile dash back to our cars.
In the past couple of these hikes I started having trouble with one of my knees along this stretch (I have some shattered cartilage in it), but this time it cooperated and I was able to maintain a pretty good pace the whole time. (I should note that wearing shoes really aggrevates the knee—I can go a lot farther barefooted than shod before it starts bothering me.)
These are always great hikes to go on. There are lots of really friendly people who are fun to talk to (and maybe get a bit of barefoot proselytizing in).
The next O’Meara O’venta hike is scheduled for December 9.