Bone tired and loving it

I spent the weekend building more hiking trail for the Buckeye Trail. It is now Tuesday morning and I can still feel a few aches in muscles that I did not use over the winter. Yesterday, I was bone tired. This is how I describe the feeling of being completely tired physically. It is similar to the tiredness I use to feel after running a cross-country race and giving absolutely every ounce of energy away to reach the finish line.

Working on the trail this weekend was very rewarding for me. The section of trail we worked on is in Pike Lake State Forest and leads directly to the Pike Lake dam at the Pike Lake State Park here in southern Ohio. This section of trail has been closed for about a year because a section of the woods were the trail runs was being logged. Falling trees do not make for enjoyable hiking. Beyond re-opening the trail, there was some new trail built that will add to the enjoyment of hikers.

There are some very beautiful vistas here in Southern Ohio, and that is what most people look for when hiking. But we also have some very interesting cave and rock outcropping formations. Pike Lake is not known for these. The Buckeye Trail has been the only way to get to the best outcropping in southwestern Pike County. The problem has been that if you are hiking east, you will likely not notice it, and if you are hiking west… well…

The old trail went straight up a hillside. I am not exaggerating when I say that the trail fluctuated between 15 to 25 percent grade on the climb. That is steep. It is also just under a quarter mile long. Needless to say when hiking up the hill, even the most fit hikers get winded. For me, when I’d get high enough to see the outcropping I’d use it as an excuse to stop. Hiking is all about enjoying the view, right? The problem is that when you do that kind of strenuous work, you end up looking at the ground at you feet because you are bent over catching your breath. And if you do look up, those interesting little sparkles dance before your eyes obscuring the view. (Never had that happen? You need to really get your heart rate up once and enjoy the light-show. :)

The hill is now switched-backed. A full half mile was added to the length of the trail, but the grade is a gentle 5 to 10 percent, with a spot of two that might get up to 15% for a dozen feet of less. One switchback is placed so that the outcropping is perfectly visible when hiking east or west. And the gentle climb allows folks to enjoy the view without huffing and puffing.

There has been an Autumn Hike at Pike Lake for several years now. I hope that this section of the trail is selected for the hike this coming October. It is a very beautiful area that most people don’t even know exists.


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