Mink In The Wild

It was 21 degrees and windy when I stepped onto the trail at Aullwood Audubon Saturday. It was a rare sunny day for Ohio and too beautiful to spend inside. So I went to visit Thomas Dambo’s trolls or forest giants as they are sometimes called. You can read about them here.

It was surprising to find the place mostly empty but I didn’t complain one bit. It was refreshing to feel the wind in my hair and to breath fresh, cool air.

It’s about a three mile loop to see the trolls. I also paused for a while in the barn, visiting the farm animals and the barn cats who keep things in order.

The highlight of the day though was seeing a mink in the wild. Something that resembled a black squirrel scurried across the trail ahead of me. I stopped to get a better look and was surprised when it turned to face me and I realized it was a mink.

Sadly, I stood there holding a cell phone in one hand and a camera in the other, gaping like a fool. I missed the photo op. Sigh. In case you aren’t familiar with the mink, here’s a photo from WHIO TV.

What a cute little face!

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says that mink are commonly found in every Ohio county. Yet, they aren’t commonly seen because they are quick and they are good at hiding.

I still can’t believe that I missed the picture.

Hiking With Wolves

You never know what you might see when you keep venture out in the world. During a hike at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs last year we saw this tour group walking two wolves.

You read that correctly. Wolves.

There is a nearby sanctuary and they evidently do extra special tours where guests can hike with the animals. The wolves appeared docile, strikingly beautiful and eager to explore.

It’s interesting because I am afraid of or at least intimidated by most dogs but this wasn’t at all troubling. In fact, I badly wanted to pet one. Sadly, we weren’t paying guests so I had to just hike on.

Still, how fantastic is this?

A Broken Record

At the risk of sounding like a broken record – I hiked again last night. Yesterday was gorgeous and warm enough for short sleeves. It was too nice to be inside so I headed to Cedar Falls.

The colors were muted and it was quiet out on the trail. The people I encountered seemed like true nature lovers who moved along the trail silently rather than the noisy tourists I often encounter.

This log reminds me of the Loch Ness Monster.

The roots and rocks are incredible on this trail.

Yup. That’s the trail. Cool, right?

As always, be sure to look up every chance you get.

Speaking of looking up- it’s almost the weekend! Happy Friday!

Hiking Days Are Numbered

The time changes this weekend so it will soon be too dark to hike after work. Long hikes will be relegated to the weekends and I’ll have to find new ways to work in some exercise during the week.

So I went for a real quick hike last night at Old Man’s Cave in the Hocking Hills State Park. It was foggy till lunchtime yesterday but turned out to be a nice fall afternoon and evening. Plus, I almost had the place to myself.

I always think this tree, and others like it, is trying to walk away.

And this bridge is a favorite spot on a quiet day.

There are a lot of stairs on this particular trail, providing plenty of opportunities to give your heart a little jolt. This picture represents a fraction of the steps you climb to leave the gorge and head back to the parking lot. Stairs are fine but that curved wood and metal staircase agitates my fear of heights in the worst way.

The fresh air was good for me and I was grateful. This is your gentle reminder to grab at those opportunities to do what you enjoy as often as you can.

Picnic At Blackwater Falls

Every trip is defined by a handful of memories both big and small.

The morning we spent at Blackwater Falls started out overcast and gloomy. Luckily, the sun had come out by lunchtime and the sky was a gorgeous shade of azure. It was cool but not cold when we set off on a short hike to Lindy Point Overlook.

It’s not a difficult hike since it’s flat and short but it is a quality experience. Plus, the destination is pretty spectacular. The view seems endless as you are high above the world.

Here, we sat on a rock, enjoying a picnic lunch while we drank in the views and watched tourists come and go.

There’s something about fresh air that makes ordinary food taste better.

Change Of Plans

My friend invited me to go hiking with her at Dolly Sods in West Virginia. We set a date, gathered a third friend and anticipated a fun hike that is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in West Virginia.

That was the plan anyway. Then life got in the way.

We never actually made it to Dolly Sods. Technically, we made it to the road to Dolly Sods before being turned away by a road closed sign. Before you stop reading to tell me that we should have done our research, my friend had been there two weeks before and the road was open.

In Ohio, we post detours. On the backroads to a wilderness area, they evidently assume you can fend for yourself and simply tell you to take an alternate route.

The alternate route we found would have meant a lot of extra driving and none of us were thrilled with that idea. After all, we came to be outside and we were surrounded by lots of nearby opportunities to do just that.

Plus, we all subscribe to the belief that things happen for a reason and that this detour may have prevented us from having an accident or getting eaten by bears.

Instead of forcing the matter, we agreed to return another time when either the road is open or we can plan better. We spent our day exploring Blackwater Falls State Park and Seneca Rocks.

Neither provided the long hikes that we all had anticipated but both provided much beauty and opportunity for short bits of exploration.

We ate outside twice that day – a sure sign of a good day. Plus, I got to show my friends what is probably my favorite covered bridge in the world.

The fresh air, gorgeous surroundings and camaraderie more than made up for the road closure and the change of plans. We’ll do that another time.

Best of all, we chose to live in the moment and be happy. Isn’t that what it’s all about?