Entries to Win Afghan

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Monday, February 28, 2022

Hocking Hills and a Goodbye - Day 90

  Hocking Hills was finally opened, so we drove back today to fill in that gap. There are so many beautiful features there that all I can do is show you the most famous, and a couple others that I got good pictures of.

This is Ash Cave at the southern end. It is Ohio's largest stone recess, and the floor of the cave was at one time covered with ashes. It is unknown whether these were ashes from Native American fires, or from the manufacture of gunpowder. Ash Cave

The next famous feature is Cedar Falls. I reallly love this waterfall. Now there are railings and warning signs, etc. When I was first here, we waded and splashed in the pool with no restrictions. Here's a warning to those who don't know botany. The trees here are hemlock, but the settlers who named the falls thought they were cedar! cedar Falls

This water just free-falls from the top of the cliff.
waterfall at Hocking Hills

An un-named feature where the trail slips through a narrow opening. I think this whole area is another on my list of places that should be the location of the next epic fantasy series.
narrow opening on trail

How about a root ball? I can picture the "tentacles" starting to unwind and chase people, or growing little eyes and mouths and giving advice. tree roots

Old Man's Cave at the northern end of the State Park was the home of a settler in the 1790s. But there is evidence of occupancy even prior to that time. Old Man's Cave

This is just a beautiful plunge pool at the northern end of the park. Notice the water dropping straight down below my vantage point at the lower left. blue pool

North of the State Park is a section of Hocking State Forest. I almost like this part better than the park because it feels more wild and mystical to me. You walk for a long way above the cliff faces. When you reach the end, you find this balancing rock. balanced rock

One quick turn and descent that seems magically too easy, and you are now walking at the base of the cliffs, some of which have split, leaving narrow corridors. narrow opening on trail And then there is the goodbye. Denali and Carl left after the hike today. She and I have been together for 500 miles, and her North Country Trail total is now over 3500. We've had a blast! hikers doing high five

Miles today: 11.2 and there are now no gaps to fill in. It was a lot of driving, but we got it done. Total miles so far: 1143.3

See Turning the Next Corner

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Turning the Next Corner - Day 89

  Today we turned north, hitting the farthest southeast corner of Ohio. Bill has just made the turn in this picture. He said, "Now the sun will be at our back all day." He was almost right. There were still switchbacks on the hills to make us squint into the sun. Please notice the word "sun." It was a most welcome addition to the day. hiker with turn blaze

This section of the Wayne National Forest was really beautiful, and most of the trail was good (with some inevitable too-steep sections). Although we don't get to enjoy green at this time of the year, we really were able to get an expansive sense of the topography. hiker in Wayne National Forest

Early in the day we passed this beautiful waterfall. Perhaps it has no water at all except when the water is high. It has no name. I don't think the creek even has a name. It's on one of the dozens of intermittent streams in the area. waterfall

Two words that really describe the day are Caves and Rocks. The geology of this area is unglaciated, and the rock is relatively young- Permian and Pennsylvanian. There are lots of sandstone caves. I left this as a long shot so you can get a sense of the scale. sandstone cave

The rocks are impressive. This is another long shot so you can see the whole bluff of limestone. This area was unglaciated, so it didn't get ground down. But I don't know why these lines of rocks dominate some hillsides. limestone bluff

Here is one outcrop by the trail. limestone outcrop

This is one of my favorite features in the Wayne, although I'll have to explain it. Draw an X through the picture from corner to corner. The line that goes from lower right to upper left passes through a light spot. That is actually where you are seeing light below the rock on top. This is a natural bridge. It formed when the back side of one of the caves collapsed, leaving an arch.

Now look at the line from top right to bottom left. This line passes almost across the top of the arch. The trail used to go there as well. Yes, we used to walk right over the top of this natural arch. Now, you have to take a little side trail to visit. natural arch in the Wayne National Forest

Here is the front of the arch. From this angle, you can easily see that it started out as a cave. natural arch in the Wayne National Forest

And, just because I want to show you, here is a picture of me sitting on this arch in 2001.
natural arch in the Wayne National Forest

Miles today: 14.3. Total miles so far: 1132.1

See Into the Wayne

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Into the Wayne - Day 88

  Look who's back with us! It's Bill. happy hikers

Today we entered the Wayne National Forest, Marietta Unit, and there is now a nice long stretch of off-road trail ahead of us. rock in Wayne National Forest

We found two old stone foundations. I'm always wondering the stories of the people who put so much effort into building these. Now their homes are all gone, and their names are forgotten. I didn't even see where a leveled track for a cart or wagon or car approached this location. Surely the owners would have needed to access their home in ways other than on foot or horseback. The view from this home was impressive. At least it's fairly easy to tell why they built where they did. Did people back then choose hilltops for the scenery or to have a longer view for defense? stone foundation of old house

Our decision to take a day off to let the water fall was excellent. This is trail along the Little Muskingum River. You can see the smooth mud on the treadway. Yesterday, the water was over the trail. Yikes. trail along the Little Muskingum River

A sign of continuing winter. This is more of the needle ice, but this one really demonstrates why it is also called frost flower. needle ice

A sign of spring. Scarlet Cup Fungus. We found everything from tiny ones to a really big one. These are medium size- about 2.5 inches across. scarlet cup fungus

Some tough hills- very steep and 500 feet high. We did OK, but we had to stop short of our ideal goal because we had a time deadline.

Miles today: 11.8. Total miles so far: 1117.8.

Bonus Section: Blogging friend connections

The lady on the left, Nelle, is someone I "met" back when blogging was a big thing. We think we were reading each other's blogs 12 or 13 years ago. The man is her husband, Jeff. friends

Tonight I got to meet her in real life. It's because of her that we are being hosted by Sarah and Dave (more on them later). They only know of me through Nelle, but they offered to let me stay here. And tonight, they fed us all, and also invited Nelle and Jeff. We had a lot of fun getting acquainted. buffet dinner

Lots of neat connections there!

See Goodbye to Hosts #12

Friday, February 25, 2022

Goodbye to Hosts #12 - Day 87

  Today was a day off and a moving day. I got the issue with the car taken care of (I think), and left Mark and Marci's beautiful hilltop home. I can hardly believe that 12 different people/families have generously hosted us over the course of the last 3 months. sunset over a hilltop pond Marci and Mark had actually met Denali last year, on a hike over near Dayton! They served as trail angels for her. It was fun for me to meet someone she knew and I didn't previously. I have not known all my hosts, but most of them.
man and woman

This was the trickiest place I have put the trailer yet, backing it in up the hill. But I got it, and it made a good home for a week. camping trailer

Now we have been welcomed by our next hosts. And I'm happy to report that I actually did some resting today. I'm going to keep this blog post short and do some more resting.

See Railroad Sniffing

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Railroad Sniffing - Day 86

  We walked like maniacs today to get in the miles we wanted to do. The most fun thing about the day for me was "railroad sniffing." It's like a game where you try to discern where a former rail line would have gone, and see what is still there and what is not. You saw the nice bridge yesterday, but that's not the first sighting of this railroad line.

Yesterday, just outside of the small village of Warner, I spotted these abutments and perked right up. "Railroad," I said. However, I have to confess that we did pick it up earlier, but I didn't spot it. It ran beside the creek near that ford we could not cross. I was too focused on high water to see the rail grade. railroad abutments

We saw bits of the berm, and then that nice bridge on the farm lane. That is a 7-panel Pratt thru-truss bridge, and the railroad did cross Duck Creek there. We were told that the farm bought the bridge for $1 when the railroad was abandoned. The creek makes a long, long oxbow and so does the road we were walking, while the railroad is now on the far side of Duck Creek, so I lost the rail berm for a while. Pratt thru-truss bridge

Found it again just south of Whipple. It crossed this culvert that carries Whipple Run, and the road climbed and is now laid over the location of the tracks.

I did find out that this was a Pennsylvania RR line, which merged with the New York Central to become Penn Central, which was acquired by Conrail sometime between 1976 and 1999. Since Conrail is the last name on the maps, this line must have been abandoned before 1999 when Conrail was split between CSX and Norfolk Southern. This is way too much info, and it's highly simplified at that. "Modern" rail history is a flaming mess. It might have been something more interesting before the PRR bought it, but alas, my historic railroad atlas is home, and I only have so much research time in the evening. Whipple Run railroad culvert

This farm lane is a clear rail berm. And it matches the map. rail berm

Crossing Sugar Run, this Fleming thru girder bridge is pretty much lost in the weeds and shrubs. Fleming thru girder bridge

The rail berm holds tight to the side of a hill, just below the road grade. Cars would have been just above the tops of the rail cars if they passed each other. Now, probably very few people know the old rail grade is just below them. rail berm The road veered away from the creek, and I thought the berm probably stayed near the creek (the topography was often less undulating, making it easier to build the rail berm near a waterway). Aha! Got a glimpse of it. It's that flat line between the hills. rail berm

I saw the berm head toward the road one more time, and then the road was clearly ovelaid on the old rail bed because there was no where else for the rail line to go. The map confirms this.

And then my last glimpse was of this former rail bridge, now the road bridge over Killwell Run. Killwell Run rail bridge

After that, the railroad swung south following Duck Creek toward Marietta, while we went east, up a hill of course.

Miles today: 17.4. Total miles so far: 1106. Over 1100!

Tomorrow we are moving again. There is going to be heavy rain overnight (it's started already), and we are going to give the creeks a day to settle down. I was hoping for some rest, but the check engine light in my car came on, so I guess I'll be dealing with that instead.

See Almost Uneventful

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Almost Uneventful - Day 85

  The day was nearly uneventful, and we are just fine with that. Lots of nice hillside scenes. ohio hillside with farm ohio hillside with farm

We are still seeing rock faces from time to time. This one caught my eye- someone left their dinner? frying pan in a rock wall

The only event of the day was that a road ford was not even remotely crossable. flooded road ford

But it didn't matter a bit because Carl was with us, and he just picked us up and drove around a different way to the other side where we started hiking again. flooded road ford

We decided to hike a little extra today. This took us part way out a beautiful road with a former railroad bridge across the West Fork of Duck Creek. It was Conrail, but certainly some older line before that. I believe Pennsylvania Railroad. The bridge appears to now be just part of the farm lane. railroad bridge on farm

We are tired, but it's all good.

Miles today: 18.6. Total miles so far: 1088.6

See Trail Angel Extraordinaire