Yesterday, of course, was Earth Day. So I spent most of my day in direct sole-to-soul contact with the Earth. (And, if truth be told, a bit of time in butt-to-butte contact during a rest break.)
It was an 8-mile barefoot hike at Tar Hollow.
I carried 40 pounds, which may have been a bit much for conditions.
I don’t often go to Tar Hollow. It doesn’t have the interesting rock formations and recess caves of Hocking Hills or Lake Hope. The geology is also different, which means that the trails are quite a bit more of a challenge: there’s shale and sun-backed clays, as opposed to the sandier soils at Hocking Hills (from the blackhand sandstone). So, between the rocky path and the weight, I got a bit footsore.
In addition, some of the trails I was on were contained recent “additions” that were pretty much in opposition to the thought of Earth Day.
I started at the southern tip of the Logan trail, near the Ranger Station. This is always a good starting point with an immediate 400 foot climb from valley to ridgetop. I discovered that the trail had been slightly rerouted since the last time I was there. The old route went right up the nose of the ridge; the new route was less steep and kind of snaked its way around: longer, and less susceptible to erosion. You can see the difference between these two topo depictions.
A nice change.
But at the top I was met with this.
It looked like they were replacing or upgrading the power poles for the transmission line that runs through here. (You can see it on the mini-topo maps.) I realize that we need our power and that it has to be maintained, but it was a bit of a shock to see things looking this naked.
It was also rather difficult on bare feet, and not a good way to start a hike. It was full of little chippy stones, not thick enough to give at all, but not far enough a part to avoid.
This wasn’t the only part of the hike that looked like this. Later on, about halfway through, were more of these roads cutting through the landscape.
This one is along the Pine Lake segment, which used to have nothing but a single-file path along the ridgetop with great views. This wasn’t for power; it was for logging.
This area looked like it was also hit hard by the derecho last summer, so a lot of trees were down. (You can see some in the background.) The attitude, though, seemed to be to go grab the trees, instead of thinking that they were useful habitat for animals, or that the nutrients they contain could be returned to the soil.
Mother Earth was screaming — so were my eyes.
Well, enough of that.
After I got away from the power line repair road, I got onto the Buckeye Trail, where I Follow[ed] the Blue Blazes, written by my friend Bob Page (who I met on my Walk with the Ancients).
Whenever you see a blaze of that color in Ohio, you’re probably on the Buckeye Trail. (If you look carefully in the picture, you can see two more blazes in the distance.) This portion of the trail was in only so-so condition: the effects of a different kind of roadmaker: horses. Well, at least it wasn’t as naked as the other roads (and it was easier on the feet, too).
The trees were all leafing out, so here’s my collection of tree-leaf photos. First, see if you can tell what this is.
That picture was actually taken last week at Alley Park, but it just didn’t fit into my narrative there.
That’s a beech. At Tar Hollow, the beeches were just slightly farther along.
The maple leaves were also emerging.
All these pictures are taken of seedlings or saplings.
Oaks were also popping.
And here’s one just slightly farther along.
It takes these leaves a bit of time to get their chlorophyll going; until them, the base canthaxanthins show through.
I’m not sure just what this one is. I am thinking maybe hickory.
And then there was the scourge of hikers.
That’s poison ivy, just getting its start on the season. (It’s still pretty.)
And there was more.
Except that one is not poison ivy. It has 5 leaves, not three, so that identifies it as Virginia Creeper. (Actually, you can sometimes be fooled by Virginia Creeper, as occasionally its new leaves will only have 3, not 5.)
The northernmost part of my hike was the Brushy Ridge Fire Tower. It is always amazing to me how close I have to get to it to actually see it (even without too many leaves on the trees). But then it emerges.
Yes, you can climb it (though only to just below the cabin).
By the way, if stores were truly concerned about bare feet and liability, they could post a similar sign.
As always, the views from the top were spectacular.
The new growth on the trees really sticks out. We also see that many of the trees are taller than the 73 foot height of the fire tower.
Off in the distance I’m pretty sure we are seeing Great Seal State Park. I cannot tell for sure, but based on the direction, I’m guessing that the tall point is Sand Hill. To the left and obscured by the trees is probably Mount Logan, and to the right I suspect is Bald Hill. (And Sugar Loaf is hidden farther to the right.)
From here it was a descent down from the top of the fire tower and a footsore trek south back to the my car.
It was a nice remembrance of Earth Day, with both the chance to be a part of Mother Earth, and with visible reminders of why we need the day.