Fresh Eyes At Cedar Falls

Last night, I revisited a trail I’ve hiked countless times. While it’s a heavily populated tourist area here in the Hocking Hills, most of the visitors were gone by the time I arrived after work. It was blissfully quiet.

I did encounter a woman who stopped for a moment to gush about the magnificence of the area. She had studied at nearby Ohio University but hadn’t been back since graduation fifteen years ago. I envied her fresh perspective and told her so. Everything was new and beautiful for her while it’s just another walk in the woods for me some days.

This particular trail is one of my favorites because there are areas where the dirt path turns to boulders that you must scurry over or through.

This trail parallels a beautiful stream.

A chipmunk stopped to say hi. This photo is not sharp but it was the best I could do with my unreliable phone.

This is a favorite spot on the trail. It’s a little steep for a short chick but I make do.

The views really are magnificent.

There’s a waterfall too.

I’m grateful to have these park trails so close to home and should probably try harder to appreciate them. But isn’t that human nature? We often don’t appreciate what we have and too often take for granted the things we value most.

I’ll try to do better.

Rained Out

Last night’s plan was to walk the bike path in Athens with my cousin. Unfortunately, another round of thunderstorms rumbled through the region, dumping buckets of water as colorful lightening streaked across the angry sky.

In short, we didn’t walk. Instead, we put on our walking clothes and went out for Mexican. We had a terrific dinner and a relaxing time catching up. Then we went to the neighborhood big box store “to walk.” This is code for “we looked at plants and hair care products.”

Don’t judge.

The bad news is that today’s plan to show you pictures from the bike path fell through.

It just goes to show that we can plan all we like but there are plenty of obstacles to cause us to slow down or change course – for better or worse.

Did I need the exercise? You betcha. Did I need chips and salsa? Not really.

All the same, it was great fun catching up with another single gal and having someone to laugh with. We should do that more often.

I regret nothing.

Meanwhile, here are pretty flowers to brighten your day.

Happy Thursday, friends. Enjoy!!

The Longest Day

It’s a pity that the longest day of the year is also usually one of the hottest. I spent my work day worshiping the central air but ultimately decided to brave the elements and enjoy an early evening hike.

John Muir said “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

It was that kind of day.

I donned my best sun hat and headed to my closest trail for a four mile trek along a mostly shaded path. I walked alone but was never lonely as I was in the company of dragonflies, squirrels and birds.

It was somewhere along this trail that I managed to shut off the work day and allow my mind to wander to my surroundings. Sometimes I wonder if I didn’t miss my calling. I once had a chance to be a park ranger but passed on the opportunity in favor of clinging to the known and comfortable.

Maybe that was a mistake. Then again, maybe not. That’s one of those questions that cannot be answered but I trust that things have worked out for the best.

Here’s another question that cannot be answered. Do we think fairies live in this tree? I’m leaning toward yes!

Whether or not I chose the right career path is irrelevant. The good news is I can still enjoy an evening on a different kind of path and marvel in the freedom of feet on the trail and head in the clouds.

Isn’t that one of the things that make life great?

Buzzard’s Roost Nature Preserve

Buzzard’s Roost Nature Preserve did not disappoint. I have been meaning to go there for a long time and finally made it out yesterday morning.

They have about five miles of trails through 1,200 mostly wooded acres. I chose the South Point Lookout Trail which is a two mile loop from the parking lot. But when I finished, I turned around and walked it in reverse.

It was beautiful both ways.

This is a Ross County Parks District property. Just a hop, skip and a jump from Chillicothe’s Western Avenue, it’s an oasis close to the city.

This trail is wide in most places and it’s one of the best maintained trails I’ve been on in southern Ohio. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at trail conditions after the stormy weather we’ve had lately.

I found many new favorite trees including this one.

And this one.

Trees reflected in water are one of life’s gifts.

This trail meanders through woods, past cliffs, and along rocks over streams. The soundtrack of the forest features dripping water, tree frogs and an orchestra of birds.

As I stood with my face turned toward the sun, I closed my eyes and felt the breeze ruffle my hair. I breathed deeply the aroma of pine needles while listening to songbirds all around. It was the ultimate surround sound.

Everything about this place is perfection.

If you go, be prepared for an extremely sharp turn onto the narrow road called Red Bird Lane. Isn’t that a charming name for a road to the forest? Maybe I’ll try another trail next time.

Want to know more? Click here to visit the Ross County Park District’s website. Here you’ll find events, trail maps and directions.

A Morning Walk

Yesterday brought a rare weekday morning off from work. We have been under a heat advisory for the last several days so I took advantage of this found time and headed to the lake for an early walk. Lots of other people seemed to have the same idea as it was busier than normal with walkers and joggers.

Walking here is nice because it’s a paved path close to home where I can measure exactly how far I have walked. There is often a little breeze and that breeze yesterday felt divine.

The light was pretty so I stopped to snap a picture of these boats that are available for rent. if you look closely, you’ll see the bridge to the island in the background. That bridge has appeared on this blog a few times over the years and is a favorite subject of mine.

This swing looked so inviting that I paused for a picture. For a split second, I considered how nice it would be to sit there with a cold lemonade and watch the day go by.

Then I remembered that the heat index would soon be 110 and that once the shade was gone the sun would burn me to a painful shade of lobster red.

So I kept moving. That’s more my speed anyway. Movement makes me happier than sitting around any day.

When it comes to the seasons, summer is my least favorite because the heat and humidity here tend to keep me indoors or strategizing how to accomplish things with the precision and control of an Army General. Keep moving, soldier. The heat is the enemy and it will soon be upon us!

We are supposed to have a reprieve from the heat this weekend before it comes raging back again next week. I’m going to head outside for a while today and breathe air that doesn’t hurt my lungs. Wherever you are, stay safe and enjoy your day!

Tree Down After A Storm

My favorite tree at Lake Alma didn’t survive the storm last week. It was there just before the storm began Thursday as I scurried around the island before thunderstorms and possible tornadoes moved into the area.

Sadly, it was down yesterday morning, literally pulled up by the roots and lying in the water.

It was a sad sight.

I have favorite things in lots of places I visit regularly. Favorite trees, rocks, patches of trillium and vistas top the list of things I look forward to with each visit to familiar places. This tree was like an old friend, one that provided shade and comfort and had great character.

It’s probably silly to mourn a tree but it brought me great joy over the years. I feel like it deserves a moment of silence and gratitude for its contribution to my life.