Entries to Win Afghan

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Stop 11 - Jim and JoAnne

 I am now at the home of a man I've known for about 57 years. We can hardly believe it. Jim and his wife JoAnne live in Cincinatti. We met him when he was a teen in Bible Quizzing. We also went to the same college.
married couple

We've mostly been visiting, but Jim and I took a 2.5 mile walk through his neighborhood. There is a nice view across the golf course.
view in Cincinatti

One of the fun things about urban neighborhoods are pocket parks. This is a tiny one we passed.
Puthoff Park

Tomorrow I will move again.

Total miles hiked in 2024: 61.7 of which 1.2 is North Country Trail.

See Back to the South

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Back to the South

 Today we went and hiked in the Shawnee State Park. We actually started at the southernmost point of the North Country and Buckeye Trails. Bill, Denali, Nikki, and I were there 2 years and 6 days ago. There was snow then. Much nicer today. About 40 degrees.
Buckeye Trail

We hiked with Jenny, the naturalist at Shawnee State Park. Most of what we walked is actually in the Shawnee State Wilderness. I did not previously realize there was state wilderness here.

Also, this is my first NCT mile of this year, because I've been on this trip. Not much, but at least I can say I didn't completely abandon it for January.

We walked NCT/BT for a mile uphill to the top of Buckhorn Ridge. There we joined a very old road that is now a bridle trail and left the NCT/BT. That part was easy walking.
Buckhorn Ridge

We went slightly feral, nibbling on the buds of Spicebush. They are... mildly spicy!
nibbling spicebush

Jenny clued me in on a some new-to-me features. For now, I'll stick with Chestnut Oak, Quercus montana. Actually, that isn't totally new, but we saw the acorns (which I forgot to picture-duh). These are both leaves of the Chestnut Oak. The large leaves grow lower on a tree because they are struggling to get more sun. Notice that the shape is slightly different too.
chestnut oak leaves

Then we descended along an unnamed stream to the road.
hiker beside creek

We got stickers for participating in a winter hike in Ohio State Parks 75th Anniversary year.
Ohio State Park 75th Anniversary sticker

Jenny took us back to her office and fed us white chili. So yummy! 4.9 miles.
white chili

The FedEx delivery I had to wait for didn't come until 5:15, so I'm staying here one more night and will move on in the morning.

Total miles hiked in 2024: 59.2 of which 1.2 is North Country Trail.

Buckeye Trail, Buckhorn Ridge, and a side trail. 4.9 miles

See Nikki and Chickie

Monday, January 29, 2024

Nikki and Chickie

 Today ended up being a little weird, but it all turned out OK. Nikki didn't feel good this morning. She thinks it was something she ate, but we're not sure what. There seem to be two possibilities. Anyway, she's good now.

Also, we had to wait around to hear about my car. It's running, although not actually fixed, since no one can decide what's wrong. Anyway... the price was perfect. Zero. It just ended up taking a whole day.

So Nikki and I hung out, then went to the store for groceries and picked up my car.

I decided we were going to have a nice meal tonight.
chicken dinner

What do you think?
chicken marsala

I can't leave here until the mail comes tomorrow (another stupid real-life thing that had to be taken care of), but we are talking about taking a hike in the morning.

See Three Hollies and a Brunch

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Three Hollies and a Brunch

  Today did not go entirely as planned, but it's OK. We were invited to breakfast by Jeff and Delsey Wilson. Jeff is probably the foremost expert on Serpent Mound and he's highly knoweldgeable on other ancient topics. You may remember that it's on the North Country Trail and he gave us a private tour there when we hiked through. This is a model of the effigy. Jeff has a number of videos on YouTube, and has just published a 3-volume book on Serpent Mound.
model of serpent mound

Here are Nikki, Jeff, and his wife Delsey in Jeff's to-die-for library.

So, the part that didn't go as planned is that the car died on the way to their house. It can't be looked at until tomorrow. Jeff brought us home. We decided it was too icky-wet and muddy, plus cold, to do the hike we had in mind. Nikki did some errands and I did a bunch of little computer tasks that had been piling up. No sense getting bent out of shape. I'll know tomorrow what it needs.

Meanwhile, I have encountered three other holly species on this trip. I think I have them all IDed correctly now, so this is a good day to share them.

This is Horned Holly, Ilex cornuta. Yes, it's a vine! It's not native, but is used as an ornamental, and is not invasive. The leaves are funky, with only four points.
horned holly

At least this one has the expected red berries, but I was surprised that it seems to be a holly, because the leaves don't have points. Actually, there are a lot of hollies that don't. This is a tree that's planted as an ornamental, Kurogane Holly, Ilex rotunda.
Kurogane Holly

It was a very attractive tree. Native to the Orient.
Kurogane holly

This one was a total surprise. I certainly never expected this to be a holly. It does have red berries, but these didn't. I'm not sure why. I think it's the right season, but supposedly birds really like them, so maybe they were all eaten. And it's native to the southeast US. Yaupon Holly, Ilex vomitoria.
Yaupon holly

I'm kind of tired, so a rather laid-back day was just fine.

See Michigan Holly
See American Holly

Saturday, January 27, 2024


 An amazing day. Nikki planned a big event, the kind of thing she puts together in conjunction with her LIVER-ee. She leads hikes and various adventures. She played on my "celebrity" status, and organized a "hike with Joan" event at one of the newest nature preserves in the Arc of Appalachia system. People paid to walk with me. This sort of blows my mind. In fact, it's so new that the map isn't even on the web site yet, but it will be in just a few days.

This first picture is just for attention. Bill, me, Nikki, and Kim Baker. She and her husband Dave donated the land for the preserve, and they are now the caretakers. They maintain the trails, and are working hard to eradicate invasive plants. The Arc of Appalachia guides the decisions for plant preservation, etc.

I spent a lot of time talking to Kim.

Here's the requisite group picture. Kim and Dave did interpretation for us (they are not in the group pic).
group of hikers

The first feature you come to is Quiverheart Falls. I can't tell you much detail about the geology of this area, but there are a whole lot of narrow, steep ravines whose creeks feed into Ohio Brush Creek (where Nikki's livery is). This is one of them. It's 200 feet deep, almost invisible from the road which is up on the Allegheny Plateau. Bundle Run flows down it, and this is the largest falls. I chose a long shot because I think you get a better sense of the scale with the rock wall beside it.
Quiverheart Falls

This picture gives some idea of the depth, and this isn't even from the bottom.
Quiverheart Nature Preserve

Just like all the eroded edges along the Allegheny Plateau, erosion creates clefts in the limestone, and then big blocks calve off. I took this picture because it's so much the same situation as Rock City in New York state, where the trail goes right down one of those cracks.
people walking down a crack in a rock

One feature is this great hanging shelf cave, very typical of southern Ohio and Kentucky.
hanging shelf cave

Along most of the walk, Bundle Run was just a stream in the bottom of the brown (because it's winter) valley. However, below the cave, the rocks are moss-covered. There is also another waterfall that ripples down slightly angled rocks, much like Laughing Whitefish Falls in the UP, but smaller. This may be a feeder creek to the run. The trail map will not be available until the web site goes live in a few days. Supposedly Tuesday, but things happen, right? Anyway, I can't place the trails in the landscape accurately without that. I didn't have enough signal to track it.
mossy green rocks by a stream

This is a really special place. This whole area, the region that hits the edge of the Appalachian Mountains has really diverse biology and habitats. Over the years, I've had the chance to visit several other preserves in the area and hear about their unique features. Even in winter, there were some great plants to see. You know I was zoomed in on those.
looking at plants

One really fun one is walking fern, Asplenium rhizophyllum. One of the ways it propogates is the long tips of the leaves will root and thus the fern "walks" across a rock face. I've seen this several places in the south, but was shocked to discover that it also grows in Michigan, even in the UP. The critical feature seems to be not temperature, but substrate such as limestone. The ones I've seen in Kentucky were much larger.
walking fern

This is an orchid, Puttyroot, Aplectrum hyemale. I've never seen it in bloom. Very, very cool.

I also learned a couple of new-to-me invasives, and found one plant that neither Kim, I, or any of the apps can identify. I'm sure it's nothing totally weird, but I'll have to keep investigating.

After the walk (3.5 really muddy miles- this morning's weather was good but the recent rains made the Ohio clay just a slime pit), we went just around the corner for lunch. Some of us ordered pizza. It was really, really good.

I am going to have to come back in the growing season. They have a number of plants I've never seen, and especially some rare ones. Kim and I hit it off, so I might. And Nikki is here, and the NCT/Buckeye Trail is not far away. You can locate them with a seach for Quiverheart Nature Preserve, and the map will be available soon at Arc of Appalachia

Fantastic day!

Quiverheart Nature Preserve, Peebles, OH, Quiverheart Falls and Whispering Fern Trails. 3.5 hilly miles

See Stop 10

Friday, January 26, 2024

Stop 10- Nikki... and Bill

  This is stop number 10, and states 13 and 14. This will by my last unique state for this trip. I still have to go through Indiana and Michigan, but I also did them while outward bound. MI, IN, IL, IA, OK, MO, TX, LA, MS, AL, GA, TN, KY, OH

I'm with Nikki at Moondoggie Liveree. I met her two years ago tomorrow! (when she hosted me and my trailer- and Bill and Denali- on my hike) And look who else showed up. It's Bill! This feels like an amazing reunion.

I had something special in mind for my mid-drive-hike-break. The southern terminus of the Sheltowee Trace trail wasn't out of the way at all. I thought I was going to share some links from when Marie and I hiked a couple other pieces of it when we did our Red River Gorge trip. However, there were no blog posts from that hike. (A real shame, because it was gorgeous) Then I remembered that it was the trip from electronics 7734. My computer fried itself. In fact, that was the computer where I actually lost some of the contents of the hard drive. I think I posted some pics on Facebook from my phone, but then the phone also went belly up. Anyway... That trip had some GREAT hikes, and it was when I discovered this trail.

Sheltowee is the name the Shawnee gave to Daniel Boone. It means Big Turtle. The trail is now 319 miles long and runs through the Big South Fork National River Area, and Daniel Boone National Forest. The turtle on the marker is its logo.
Sheltowee Trace marker

This is a National Recreation Trail. NRTs may or may not be for foot travel. This one is. They do not have the same status as National Scenic or Historic Trails, but they are recognized at a federal level. The primary feature of today's hike was rock walls. Very cool rock walls.
rock wall

This ran along the banks of the Clear Fork river. I did a loop that was uphill both ways. I'll explain that later. After the day and a half of rain, the river was running high. In some places it was calmer, but in other places the water was turbulent enough to form standing waves over rocks.
Clear Fork river

All that rain made every small creek run stong, and there were numerous waterfalls that probably don't even happen most of the year.
small waterfall

Here's how the trail was uphill in both directions. The river makes a complete horseshoe bend. I started at the middle of the bend and walked upstream on the west portion. Then the trail climbs the ridge between the two parts of the river. That was about 200 feet higher. Then the trail does go downhill to get to the eastern part of the river. On the way down it follows a little creek.
small creek in forest

Once you reach the river again, you are now walking south, but the river is now flowing north because of that bend! So you are walking uphill again to get back to the parking area. Tricky, right? If I had gone the other direction, it would have been mostly downhill. Of course, this is all semantics since it's a loop. The net elevation change is zero, but it feels weird.

I was able to do a loop that included 2.3 miles of the Sheltowee Trace, and then 1.7 return miles on the Burnt Mill Bridge Trail to get back to the car. With the sections Marie and I did in Red River Gorge, I've hiked perhaps 10 miles of the Sheltowee. I might be able to figure it out from my records, but if I ever did hike this whole trail, I'd just do the segments again that we did in 2019 for the continuity. Junctions were well marked, and the trail has been well-constructed, not just thrown across the landscape.

Other highlights include seeing a little garter snake in January.
garter snake

And, finding American climbing fern, Lygodium palmatum. I MAY have seen this one in the Red River Gorge, but I'll have to check back through the pictures. At any rate, I haven't seen it very often.
American climbing fern

I entered Ohio at dusk on the Simon Kenton bridge. Not a great picture, but I thought the lights were cool.
Simon Kenton Bridge

And early this morning, I discovered I was driving a portion of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail!
trail of tears sign

Just one more detail for the day. Owen did not want to be left out. He is Lin and Joe's cat, but he sort of thinks he's a dog.
woman and a cat

The weather was wonderful. Warmest day of the trip yet. I hiked in shirtsleeves and it was 60 degrees. When I was with Nikki two years ago, we experienced what turned out to be the coldest temperatures of the entire NCT hike with one morning at -6 degrees!

Sheltowee Trace and Burnt Mill Loop Trail, Tennessee, 4.0 miles

See Rainy Day Fun

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Rainy Day Fun

 It rained most of the day, but we managed to have some fun. In the afternoon we went for a drive so they could show me the town. We ended up on a ridge with quite a view.
view from Morris Winery

It was stunning... taken in the more literal sense. I was stunned. I had no idea we were so close to actual mountains. This is the western edge of the Appalachians. Also stunning as in gorgeous, even in the fog and mist.

I'm pretty sure the ridge right in front of us is called Chilhowee Mountain.
Chilhowee Mountain

I love the shades of the layers of hills. The mountain is about 10 miles away.
Chilhowee mountain

Let's zoom in once more for even more varied layers. Don't be fooled into thinking the blue-gray is sky. Look at the top. The sky is white. That gray is Chilhowee Mountain. Actual elevaton about 1800 feet.
Chilhowee mountain

It's a lot of pictures, but I have to show you Sugarloaf Mountain (what else, right?). It's just so cute sitting out there all alone. The Ocoee River flows between it and Chilhowee where it is dammed to formed Lake Ocoee.
sugarloaf mountain tennessee

Other than that, we did puzzles. We were talking about the rabbit puzzle I got for Christmas. Well, Lin has some of the puzzles like that made by the really good company, Liberty Puzzles. We had to get one out.
woman doing a jigsaw puzzle

There are many interesting pieces in these puzzles. Here are just a few. Sometimes you even had to combine several pieces to make the shape- for example there were about 6 pieces that made a car. There was a woman sitting at a table with a teapot and that was four pieces. And the shapes have nothing to do with the picture on the puzzle.
Starry River jigsaw

I loved this picture. It wasn't quite as hard as I thought it might be. We started last night, and I finished it this morning while Lin had a prior commitment. It's called Starry River.
starry river jigsaw puzzle

Not content to quit with one, we did another one this afternoon. This was easier. It's called Grizzly Bear. In this one, most of the animals in the picture had a shape piece of the animal that was also part of the picture. The frog had a frog shape in the middle, likewise the eagle and the porcupine, and more.
grizzly bear jigsaw puzzle

These are really high quality puzzles, and it was a treat to get to do a couple.

Joe has made some wonderful meals! They eat a lot of veggies, and you know this made me happy too.

Tomorrow I'll be back on the road.

See Bradley County Greenway