Bike ride to Nelsonville

I took advantage of a gorgeous morning to ride up to Nelsonville and back on the Adena Hockhocking Bike Trail. This is a quick video of one of my favorite sections. The ride takes you along the Hocking River, the Ohio University Campus, Hocking College and then into Nelsonville. It ranges from sunny stretches to tree-lined stretches like this.

Rode a total of almost 38 miles at an average speed of just over 15 mph. Having a tough time getting the average higher than that.

Route for ride to Nelsonville and back

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Paddling the (water) lilies at Lake Hope

Lake Hope water lilies

Lake Hope water lilies

We’ve had great weather this week, prompting me to do some paddling. I went up to Dow Lake on Monday and paddled the entire thing. On Tuesday, I set of for Lake Hope, about a 30-minute drive from here. It definitely was worth the trip.

Lily at Lake Hope

Lily at Lake Hope

I had the entire lake to myself when I put in at about 9 a.m. When I left a few hours later, there were a few other folks getting ready to launch boats and a few kids playing on the beach. Perfect.

I paddled the entire shorelines, passing several gorgeous blue herons. I also saw a few deer along the shoreline. But the highlight of the trip was when I paddled into a cove filled with blooming water lilies. Incredible. It was very shallow, but I managed to get all the way back to the beaver dams.

Paddling across that sea of lily pads was pretty freakin’ cool. Here’s a video that will give you an idea of what it’s like:

This seems to be a pretty shallow lake, and I think they have problems with algae during the heat of summer. My biggest complaint about the trip was finding a decent place to launch. The beach and marina are at the foot of a hill, so I had to drive down to the beach, unload the boat and then carry it over the the marina to launch. There’s a boat ramp on the other side of the dam. Maybe I’ll try there next time, but I wasn’t impressed with the look of it, either.

As an added bonus, the park includes Hope Furnace so I stopped there on my way out. It’s a blast furnace that was used from 1854-74 to smelt iron ore. This part of Ohio was bristling with furnaces like this back in the day. Hope Furnace remains as a strange Industrial Revolution pyramid dedicated to those days …

Hope Furnace.

Hope Furnace.

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Kayaking at Burr Oak Lake …

When I sold my kayak in D.C. I knew it was a mistake. One that I just fixed. I picked up a used 17-foot Current Designs Storm via Craig’s List, and despite my concerns that it might be more kayak than our Toyota Prius could handle, a Thule rack system made it so I can get the boat to the water.

Last week, I loaded up the kayak and went to Burr Oak Lake for a paddle. I’m very pleased with the boat. It fits me well, though it could use a bit more room for my size-13 feet, and paddling it was a pleasure. I paddled most of Burr Oak, probably about 12km all in (I forgot to turn on the GPS tracker for the first third of the trip). Lots of wildlife, ranging from an eagle to several osprey to a bunch of herons. I also paddled through a large shallow area where shad were spawning.

I also took time to play with my gadgets, including the GoPro video I shot and a few 360-degree photos I made while floating on Burr Oak.

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360 photo of the bike path …

Shot at the Eclipse Company town this afternoon during a ride the Adena Hockhocking Bike Trail.

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

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Milestone …

Bike Ride on the Adena Hockhocking Bike Trail

Bike Ride on the Adena Hockhocking Bike Trail

On Wednesday, I went for a bike ride on the Adena Hockhocking bike trail. It was about 24 miles roundtrip, but I managed to keep an average speed of 15 mph, my fastest yet. Since I started trying to get back in shape, I’ve lost four pounds and my daily step counts are averaging about 15,000. That’s a big improvement over last winter, when I often struggled to get to 10k. I’ve even clocked a 30,000 step day. Best of all, I’ve discovered several great trails and I’m exploring Ohio. Now if I can just keep it up throughout the summer …

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Hike around Dow Lake

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 10.48.00 AM

I biked out to the dam at Dow Lake intending to take a quick hike on Hickory Trail. But it was a beautiful day and I felt great walking Hickory, so I decided to walk all the way around the lake, connecting up with Lakeview Trail to complete the loop. All in, I walked almost 8 miles with great lake views most of the way. That and the bike ride gave me my highest step count ever: 30,000 steps.

Next I want to do the same at Burr Oak, but I suspect that will be a larger project. It’s a much bigger lake, which might be an excuse for my first backpacking trip …

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The ever-vigilant Ozzy

Ozzy hanging out on the front porch, ever vigilant for squirrels, postal carriers and passing dogs.

Ozzy hanging out on the front porch, ever vigilant for squirrels, postal carriers and passing dogs.

Ozzy's front porch vigil actually looks more like this, with him snoring while the squirrels party hardy nearby.

Most often, Ozzy’s front-porch vigil actually looks more like this, with him snoring while the squirrels party hardy nearby.

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Making tracks in Wayne National Forest

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I hadn’t walked the railroad tracks since I was a punk teenager who used them as a place to party, stash beer and visit friends from Wilkinsburg to Swissvale to Braddock in ’70s suburban Pittsburgh. This time was different. I was trying to get back on track, so to speak, after drifting off course while walking a stretch of the Buckeye Trail in Wayne National Forest in Ohio.

I’d set off, as I often do, based on guidance from AthensTrails.org, a great guide to local hiking spots. I wanted a day hike. Something not at Stroud’s Run. Something up near Burr Oak State Park, which I’ve been wanting to explore.

The Long Run segment of the New Straitsville section of the Buckeye Trail and North Country Trail sounded like the perfect choice. It was about 6.5 miles roundtrip and would let me get acquainted with Wayne National Forest. Athens Trails provides great, detailed guidance on the hike. I printed it out, grabbed my day pack and drove about a half-hour from Athens to the trailhead in Glouster. So far, so good.

Trail head for the hike I took.

Trail head for the hike I took.

The first stretch of the trail was a slog, as AthensTrails warned it would be. Muddy. Rutted. Making me wonder if I’d screwed up with this choice. But as promised, it soon improved, turning into a remote, beautiful path through the forest.

The blue blaze of the Buckeye Trail.

The blue blaze of the Buckeye Trail.

The Buckeye Trail is well marked with blue blazes. And that’s where I made my mistake. At one point, I misread the instructions I’d printed out from AthensTrails, and instead of following the blazes (as I should have) I trudged up a steep utility access cut that was heavily overgrown with weeds. I bushwhacked my way through a mile or so of this before coming to County Road 21 and realizing I was off course. Checking my maps, I found I could take 21 down to State Road 13 and walk south to pick up the Buckeye Trail where it crosses the highway and heads over to Burr Oak State Park. The railroad tracks run parallel to 13 at that point, so I just followed them until I found where they intersected the trail and walked it back to the trailhead.

This is the point along the railroad tracks where I found the trail and got back on track. It crosses the tracks and then heads over into Burr Oak.

This is the point beside Sunday Creek and the railroad tracks where I found the trail and got back on track. It crosses the tracks and then heads over into Burr Oak.

In the end, I walked about 8.3 miles instead of the 6.4 I would have walked if I’d followed the directions correctly. But the hike was worth it. It was a great way to get acquainted with Wayne National Forest and although I didn’t actually get over to Burr Oak, it prompted me to return the following weekend to explore the area with Lara. It’s a beautiful lake. Best one I’ve encountered thus far in Ohio, and there are trails throughout the park —  it’s even possible to circumambulate the lake. I intend to return to give that a shot later this summer …

The route I took on the Buckeye Trail.

The route I took on the Buckeye Trail.

Cool, fluorescent fungus I saw during my hike back.

Cool, fluorescent fungus I saw during my hike back.

The trail meanders briefly onto private property, and this stile allows hikers to go over the fence to pick up the trail again on the other side.

The trail meanders briefly onto private property, and this stile allows hikers to go over the fence to pick up the trail again on the other side.

There are a series of caves -- cliff overhangs, more accurately -- along the trail.

There are a series of caves — cliff overhangs, more accurately — along the trail.

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Rolling with Noah

Lara, Noah and I take a break during our ride.

Lara, Noah and I take a break during our ride.

Lara and I tried to keep up with Noah Trembly this week on the Adena Hockhocking bike trail. We rolled from West State Street Park to a few miles north of The Plains. Weather was perfect (clouds kept things cool but didn’t rain on us), though the mosquitos were out in force. We even saw a pair of deer when we wheeled back into the park.

By the way, if you’re looking for a great cause to donate to, we’re trying to help Noah get a new van so he can keep rolling. There’s a Go Fund Me page set up where you can contribute. Please do if you’re so inclined.

The route we took during our ride. The loop at the bottom is where Lara and I rode out to meet Noah at the West State Street Park, from where we shot north on the path.

The route we took during our ride. The loop at the bottom is where Lara and I rode out to meet Noah at the West State Street Park, from where we shot north on the path.

This is at Black Diamond Bicycles at the Eclipse Company Town in The Plains.

This is at Black Diamond Bicycles at the Eclipse Company Town in The Plains.

This is on a bridge that runs over the Hocking River.

This is on a bridge that runs over the Hocking River.

I've noticed this before on the bike path but never stopped to investigate. Don't know the details of what happened here, but clearly it was tragic.

I’ve noticed this before on the bike path but never stopped to investigate. Don’t know the details of what happened here, but clearly it was tragic.

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Stroud’s Run Vista …

The view of Dow Lake from Vista Point.

The view of Dow Lake from Vista Point.

The day was crap. Overcast. Cool. More March than June. Perfect day for a hike.

I drove up to Stroud’s Run, where I pulled into the trailhead at White Pine Trail, which is a spur trail connecting to Vista Point Trail. As is the case with most of the trails at Stroud’s, it’s in rough shape … but still quite serviceable. Where White Pine intersects Vista, I tool a left and headed north onto Vista Point Trail, hopping over to the Thunderbunny bike trail at one point and then back to Vista Point, which runs along a ridgeline before dropping down the opposite side into the campground. A quick walk through the campground allowed me to pick up Vista again near the amphitheater, where the Vista trailhead is.

Boulder's along Thunderbunny trail.

Boulders along Thunderbunny trail.

After climbing back up to the ridge on Vista, I came across Vista Point and a great view of Dow Lake down below. Not much wildlife was out during my late-afternoon hike, but I did encounter a few mountain bikers on Thunderbunny and a woman hiking with her lab. Finding Vista Point and checking out the campground make the hike well worth it.

The route I took during my White Pine/Vista/Thunderbunny hike.

The route I took during my White Pine/Vista/Thunderbunny hike.

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