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Monday, January 24, 2022

South of the Equator - Day 55

  Did you know that Ohio is south of the Equator? Here's proof. Today we reached the southernmost point of the North Country Trail at Dead Man Hollow Road on Upper Twin Creek. It was balmy! Check out the white sand beach. We were overdressed. hikers with snow and palm trees

Seemed odd since we started in the Shawnee Wilderness with snow on the ground! Shawnee Wilderness Trail

Look who hiked with us again- Nikki! hiker

When we entered Shawnee State Forest, we joined the backpacker trail which is almost all on a high ridge that winds through the park (and up and down- about 3000 total feet of elevation gain and ditto down). Some really steep slopes. I'm calling it training for western NY. ridge trail

Possibly the best thing about today was not on the trail. But we might find some another day now that we know what to look for. Look at this odd cliff of shale with the orange balls in it. Ohio Shale Concretions

This is an Ohio Shale cliff. The orange balls are called concretions, and they are a sort of limestone or dolomite "crystal" (using the word loosely) that formed when the shale was laid down in Devonian times and Ohio was south of the Equator (ha! You thought I was kidding.) Guess what is at the center of the balls? An Arthrodire- a primitive shark! There are various theories as to why these balls formed, but no one really knows. Nikki asked a friend from the Nature Conservancy, and he sent us a great article about them.

Apparently there are thousands of these balls scattered along a line that runs from about where we are all the way up to Lake Erie. Lots of them have weathered out of the soft shale and are often seen as lawn ornaments. We are going to start looking! They can be anywhere from a few inches to 9 feet across!

So there you have it- my sharkey cousins are captured in the center of orange balls in Ohio, south of the Equator! And you thought fiction was strange.

Miles today 13.2 hard ones. Total miles so far: 777.8

See Moon Hollow and Sunshine Ridge

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Moon Hollow and Sunrise Ridge - Day 54

  There was neither moon nor sun involved in today's hiking, but it was a really nice day. We began with more trail miles in the Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve. hikers on trail

We climbed a total of 2200 feet, and descended about 2000. Most of that was down into and then out of Moon Hollow. At the Moon Hollow road crossing are two barns. barn at Moon Hollow

This is an old tobacco drying barn. We figured that out from the narrow vents, and then there was a sign that verified it! tobacco barn

Moon Hollow has its own claim to fame. Lloyd Estel Copas was born here. He was known variously as Cowboy Copas, or the Oklahoma Cowboy. He was the first to record "The Tenessee Waltz," which became an immediate hit in 1948, and has been re-recorded by many artists. His other big hits include "Signed, Sealed and Delivered," and "Alabam." You can hear his recording of Tennessee Waltz.

We honored him by singing Tennessee Waltz a few times. Plus, it was just fun.

Moon Hollow is also the location of this wonderfully painted barn. barn painted for Buckeye Trail

At the top of the climb out of the hollow, we left the nature preserve and joined Sunshine Ridge Road. This isn't a flat paved road walk. This is a lovely byway with great views. They might have looked better with sunshine and no snow, but it was all good. Only drawback was that the road was slippery in spots, but we still finished in good time. Sunshine Ridge view Sunshine Ridge view

We have now entered the Shawnee State Forest. Tomorrow will be all off road!

Miles today: 14.2. Total miles so far: 764.7.

See Experience Overload

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Experience Overload! - Day 53

  Today was totally, totally awesome. I got to see some favorite things again, and also some wonderful new trail. And I learned new things too.

For starters, it was -6 degrees here last night. The trailer stayed warm enough to sleep! We delayed our start a little bit because the sun quickly warmed the air to double digits. We have clothes for hiking at those temps. But the morning was just gorgeous, with sun on the frosty trees. hikers and frosty trees

Soon we turned up Bat Roost Road, which was where I knew there was a view of the Ohio River. I thought it was the only place where you can see the river from the trail. See that brighter line in the distance between the hills? Ohio River and hills

Now we have to bring General Nathaniel Massie into the story.
picture of General Nathaniel Massie


He established a fort, Massie's Station, on the Ohio River in 1791. It became the village of Manchester which is either the third or fourth permanent settlement in Ohio (Marietta is first, then I'm not sure of what is next, although I suspect something up on Lake Erie). So Massie Station was down on the river. There are hills that rise quickly away from the water. On Bat Roost Road we climbed from about 560 feet to 990 feet. Then we turned on Gift Ridge Road. Gift Ridge is indeed a ridge. It stays at 1000 feet, descending a little at the east end to about 920 feet.

So what's the connection? Massie gave settlers land along the ridge, which became known as "Gift Ridge," to build homes. In return, they were to serve as an early warning system watching for Indian raids that might be headed toward the fort.

And, I learned that in the winter, there are more places along this road where you can see the Ohio. Here's the best. Ohio River view

One of the very best places on Gift Ridge is about to be no more. This is Counterfeit House. It's scheduled for demolition because no group has had the money or determination to save it, which is a total shame. In the 1840's Thomas Oliver and his sister ran a counterfeiting operation from this specially built house. They made 50 cent pieces and $500 bills. The doorknob could only be opened by those who knew the secret way it worked. There were fake chimneys where things could be hidden. If an upper window was lit it was a signal to boats on the Ohio that there was fresh "cash." Counterfeit house

Since this is likely to be the last time I'll see it, we did poke around a little. This safe and printing machine are still in a back room. Generally, the place is a total wreck. Squatters have been living there, and the structural damage is extensive. Couterfeit House

After a few more roads, we finished the day with some brand new Buckeye Trail miles in the Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve. I have to say that these are the best designed, graded, benched and marked off-road miles I've seen in Ohio. This is a wonderful hike!

Jeff told us yesterday that this area was not glaciated. Look at these limestone cliffs! What the heck? Here's what... This is the Allegheny or Portage Escarpment! It separates the Allegheny Plateau from glacial till fields to the northwest. It runs all the way to central New York State. How did I not know this? So, the NCT has a piece of the Niagara Escarpment in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and a piece of the Allegheny Escarpment here in Ohio. Allegheny Escarpment

And just in case this wasn't enough, there is the grave of William Flood, a Revolutionary War soldier, here as well. This is what I love about the NCT- you can hardly walk two miles without finding something new to learn about! Revolutionary War grave

And Nikki hiked with us today. She might go again tomorrow. hiker

This really isn't everything I wanted to tell you, but I think it's enough for one blog post. I'll have to find a way to weave the other stories into other posts.

P.S. About 2000 feet of elevation gain overall today, and 2000 feet of descent.

Miles today: 15.2. Total miles so far: 750.5.

See Serpent Mound Tour

Friday, January 21, 2022

Serpent Mound Tour - Day 52

  Today we had the privilege of receiving a private tour of Serpent Mound, perhaps the most important Native American effigy in North America.

We will walk past this mound in a few days, but this was a great opportunity to learn more than one ever can from signs. And we learned that the signs aren't necessarily correct because there are many more questions than answers associated with Serpent Mound.

We are already in Adams County. Nice murals in the village of Peebles. Adams County Mural

Here's another for the village which features an image of Serpent Mound. Peebles Mural

Jeff Wilson, from Friends of Serpent Mound, was our guide. He knows just about everything there is to know about the site. Our current host, Nikki, arranged this for us! For starters, I did not realize the serpent was constructed at the center of an impact crater where a meteorite about 5 miles in diameter once hit the earth. Large craters have a central uplift structure because the impact melts the rock, which then splashes up in the middle. So the serpent is on a dome of rock in the middle of the crater.

You can see the sides of the crater-- the far level rims in these two pictures. Perhaps you can see that I'm taking the pictures from a similar elevation with a wide valley between. That's the floor of the crater. serpent mound crater serpent mound crater

The site also has burial mounds that have been used by several cultures over the course of millenia. How many millenia is still in question, but possibly as long ago as the last glaciation period. burial mound

The first historical record of Serpent Mound was made in 1848, and this depiction was made around 1900. Serpent Mound drawing

This picture from today shows the central oval of the head pretty well. The structure is 25 feet wide and about a quarter of a mile long, so it's really hard to see the whole thing from the ground. Serpent mound

The observation tower is closed in winter, but here is a picture I took one year in the summer. You can at least see the curving body.
serpent mound


So, what is Serpent Mound? There is quite a lot of evidence that it served a similar purpose as Stonehenge. The curves of the body are aligned with major solstices and equinoxes. There are alignments with the travels of the moon. There is some evidence that it was constructed when Thuban, in the constellation Draco, was the north star. (Because the earth wobbles on its axis, north changes in a 26,000 year cycle.) The pyramids are aligned with Thuban. The Serpent Mound may mirror Draco.

No one even knows who first built it. Carbon dating projects have yeilding conflicting results, and careless backfilling by early archeologic digs have muddled the evidence.

No matter who built it, it's amazing, and its preservation is something of a political miracle.

We then went out to eat, bought groceries and came "home." Back on the trail tomorrow.

See Chicken Hollow and Suck Run

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Chicken Hollow and Suck Run - Day 51

  The best things about today were names, and also that I remembered walking one of these roads previously. Early in the day we followed Chicken Hollow Road. Beautiful farmed hillsides, looking nice even in January. farmed hillsides

Then we turned up the road named the same as the beautiful stream with the horrible name that runs beside it. Suck Run. It just eases its way down a series of stone ledges. Very much like New York. A most enjoyable five miles. Suck Run Suck Run

The day was chilly, but the sun did come out, and the sky was gorgeous. Denali and I also saw a bluebird. blue sky

On the last long downhill of the day to the car, we could see far to the south, across the Ohio River into the Kentucky hills. The river was not visible from here, but it was a great view. Kentucky Hills

Tomorrow is a day off. We have a couple of things planned, but I hope to rest some too.

Miles today: 14.6. Total miles so far: 735.3.

See Black Taco Ad
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