I’m still catching up from the weekend. On Saturday I went on another of the monthly Adventure Hikes with John O’Meara, the Executive Director of Columbus Metro Parks. Spring is finally arriving (or at least pretending to arrive) in central Ohio.
And that meant there really aren’t any more issues about whether it’s too cold to do the hike barefoot.
The park has something like 11 miles of organized trails in an area of a bit more than 4,700 acres. It’s a huge area on the edge of Hocking Hills, containing many of the same geologic features. But that also means that when you do a series of long hikes, you are going to end up repeating yourself. So, you’ve seen pictures of all these places before. But what ought to make them a bit different is the arrival of spring.
The hike itself was just about 12¾ miles, completed in just under 5 hours (including lunch at the picnic area).
Actually, the speed bothered me a bit. I was carrying a bit more than usual (with my external frame pack), and that weight, combined with the speed, made my knee start to act up. Usually, just going barefoot helps my knee: it seems to be that the proprioceptive feedback allows me to place my feet in such a way to minimize the stress on all my joints. However, when we were chugging along, I’m guessing I wasn’t paying as much attention to that. So, I ended up lagging behind a bit, but still managed to finish the full distance.
One of the things we did to make this hike a bit different was head off to Buzzard’s Roost.
This is off-trail, and can only be accessed when accompanied by park personnel on an official hike. John was our “park personnel”.
Buzzard’s Roost is an outcropping of Blackhand Sandstone, the primary geologic layer that provided all of the Hocking Hills area its unique nature of outcroppings, hills, and recess caves. Buzzard’s Roost gives a nice view of the Clear Creek valley.
That’s looking towards the southeast (while Clear Creek generally heads east, it’s doing a jog here) towards Memory Rock in the distance. If you look carefully in the middle of the picture, you can see Clear Creek at the bottom of the vee.
As usual we were accompanied by accomplished volunteers.
That’s Charlotte (if I remember correctly—I really have to work on remembering names) along with some of the other hikers.
Here’s the view looking looking west from Buzzard’s Roost.
You can see how some of the Blackhand Sandstone has weathered into an interesting shape due to the way it was originally differentially cemented.
The half-way point is always the Barnebey Hambleton picnic area.
In this photo (and the last one, too) you can see the trees just starting to bloom. There’s just that tinge of red in the distance.
After lunch we headed down to Lake Ramona.
It doesn’t look too springlike there, but just behind is a sure sign of it.
You know spring is coming when the skunk cabbage is almost ready to bloom.
And yes, skunk cabbage really does smell bad. It also turns out to be edible (you know, if you are a pioneer after a long winter). But extreme care must be taken to eat it, and it has to be properly prepared. Skunk cabbage contains a lot of oxalic acid crystals, which precipitates in your kidney and joints. Supposedly, if carefully (and thoroughly) dried the oxalic acid can be removed.
Quite frankly, I’m not about to try it.
Continuing hike, I wanted to show the hillside along the Chestnut Trail that has a large patch of Ground Cedar.
That actually isn’t a sign of spring. They look like that all year long. But it still does brighten up the area.
What would a spring hike be without some spring flowers. Here’s one of the Cutleaf Toothworts that were all along the trails.
Thanks to TrekOhio and Common Spring Wildflowers in Ohio it was pretty easy to identify (mainly from the leaf since the flowers haven’t quite opened yet).
There’s one more Adventure Hike, scheduled for May 18, before the summer hiatus. Every hike has attracted something between 20 and 35 hikers, so let’s hope that’s sufficient interest for John to resume them in the fall.