We did need a little support from New York, though.
I hike at Clear Creek a lot, and make a point of doing many of their organized hikes. A few years back the Metroparks Director, John O’Meara even organized “Adventure Hikes” that were a lot of fun. See, for instance, Metro Parks Special with Barefoot Hiking.
This time the two coincided, so we got a chance to show the regular hikers at the Clear Creek hike a whole bunch (ok, four) barefoot hikers, and maybe sow a few seeds in their heads about how it might be possible.
The hike heads up to “Winnowing Rock”, where the pioneers of the area would take their grain to winnow it (throw it to the wind to separate the wheat from the chaff). It’s about a 300-foot elevation gain, done fairly slowly, so it is a nice leisurely hike. It also means that the Park Naturalist gets to point out interesting plants and things are we go along.
Here we are starting out along the trail.
Yes, that is moss we are walking on. Yum.
That’s Ohio Barefoot Hikes founder Greg Morgan, and you can also see my son Ian behind.
About halfway along we climbed up on the Lake Emily dam. Here you can see all of us barefoot hikers.
There’s me, my son, Lee, and Greg.
I’ve written before about how this hike starts at the intersection of two major Shawnee trails, the Belpre Trail (which follows Clear Creek Road) and the Standing Stone Trail, which went from Portsmouth to Lancaster.
The portion that we hiked from the start to Lake Emily was along the Standing Stone Trail.
In the map below, you can see our route in blue, and next to it is the 1903 official topo map of the area, so you can see what used to be there.
At Lake Emily you can see where the Standing Stone Trail headed off, though at the time of the topo map, it was called Lead Mine Hollow Road, because of (false) rumors that the Indians had a lead mine in the area where they made bullets. (The geology precludes any native lead—it’s all sandstone and shale.)
Here’s the group having a bit of a snack atop Winnowing Rock, elevation around 1130 feet (we started at about 792).
And here’s Ian overlooking the valley below.
There was a nice breeze up there, so I can see how it would be a good place to do the winnowing. The only thing would be the effort of getting the grain up there!
I mentioned sowing seeds.
It was interesting some of the reactions of the other hikers. At one point I gave one gentleman one of my hiking/map business cards. He asked, “Ohio Barefoot Hikers. What do you do?” Well, yes, we hike barefoot.
Another lady proudly informed us that she always wore shoes, even in her house. After all, when she bought her carpets, the people she bought them from told he that bare feet left oil on the carpets and eventually made them dirty. (Another non-barefoot hiker piped up and noted that shoes would do that, too.) But my point was “Is the carpet supposed to serve us, or are we supposed to serve the carpet?”
But there was another hiker who told us she went barefoot a lot around (inside and out) her house, and on the way down she decided to try a bit of barefoot hiking.
As you can see, that was some of the wonderfully mossy part. She kept her shoes off for a ways, and we persuaded her to keep them off just a little longer so that she could walk on the portion of the trail that was made of decomposing hemlock needles. I love that surface to walk on.
But then she was concerned about going too slowly, and we didn’t want her to overdo it and decide she didn’t like it, so she re-shod shortly after that.
And then it started to rain. Of course, the barefoot hikers had the perfect footwear for that. Here’s a picture Lee took of me (cell-phone camera while raining—it’s amazing he got anything).
That’s in front of “Written Rock”, which has Native American petroglyphs on it. It’s at the intersection of the Belpre and Standing Stone Trails.
Finally, one more picture, related to sowing seeds.
On the right is Ken Browne, the Head Ranger of the Clear Creek Park. I first met him at the Walk With the Ancients and obviously my bare feet made an impression on him.
This picture is actually from 3½ years ago, along the same trail of the Labor Day hike, but I really wasn’t free to show it until now. You see, he is out of uniform. But he is retiring shortly, and he has now given me permission to show it.
Sometimes we despair that we aren’t making progress in gaining barefoot acceptance. But just being out there barefoot can sow the seeds of change. And this hike demonstrates that a bit.