Here is a link to a story about my Buckeye Trail hike which appeared in the iN75 magazine on June 22.
Here is a link to an article which will appear in the June 19 edition of the Dayton Daily News in the Life section.
Today I hiked the remaining nine miles of the Buckeye Trail into Dayton to Deeds Point. It was a wonderful day!
The final leg of my journey began on the bike path in Fairborn at Colonel Glenn Highway and Kaffman Road. This is where the Troy Section of the Buckeye Trail starts. Maria made the journey from Cleveland to Dayton to hike on the last day with me.
The day was overcast and rain was in the forecast. This is only appropriate since I had hiked so many miles in the rain on this Buckeye Trail hike. To me rain was just liquid sunshine.
From the bike path on Kauffman Road the trail goes up to Wright Brothers Memorial near Wright Patterson Air Force Base. We toured the Huffman Praire Flying Field Interpretive Center there. The exhibits in this center are geared towards the activites and accomplishments of the Wright Brothers after they made their first flight. From the overlook at the Wright Brothers Memorial you can see part of Huffman field. It was here at Huffman Field where the Wright Brothers flew their improved airplanes.
The first flight was in 1903 at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. This flight lasted 12 seconds and there was no steering of the airplane. The Wright Bothers came back to Dayton, created the Wright Flyer III, and flew it at Huffman Field in 1905. This flight lasted 39.5 minutes, covered 24 miles and included steering to make turns. This flight lasted longer than all other flights combined. The Wright Flyer III is considered world's first practical aircraft. It was invented and flown here in Dayton. (What good is an airplane you can't steer?)
It started raining at the Wright Brothers Memorial. It would rain for the next hour. We had trouble following the Buckeye Trail as it left the memorial. We followed the blue blazes into the woods and they dissappeared. We had to forge our own route which included the bike path, running across SR-444, walking along active railroad tracks and climbing down the railroad tressle at Springfield Street. We found the blue blazes again and headed towards Eastwood MetroPark.
To get to Eastwood MetroPark from Springfield Street the Buckeye Trail goes a short distance on water well fields owned by the City of Dayton. As we crossed this property we were approached by two City of Dayton Water Department employees in a truck. The driver manuvered his truck in a way to block our path. He told us that we were not allowed on the property and we must leave. I explained to him that the Buckeye Trail goes through here. This did not matter to him. He ordered us to leave. I offered to show him the Buckeye trail map and offered to give him my card. He refused both. I explained I was finishing the last four miles of a 1,444 mile journey. This did not mater to him.
I asked if he would call his supervisor. The other fellow in the truck did. We heard a bit of the conversation. The fellow told his supervisor that two people were hiking in the Buckeye Trail then we heard him say "yep (pause) yep (pause) yep (pause) and then ok." The supervisor confirmed that the Buckeye Trail goes through this area and we were allowed to proceed. I found it ironic that after hiking 1,440 miles on the Buckeye Trail no one had attempted to block my path or throw me off the trail until I got to my hometown! But, in all sinceerity, I am so glad that the City of Dayton does their best to protect our precious water source. So I give these fellows credit for doing their job.
At Eastwood MetroPark I met with Chris Rizer, a reporter for the Dayton Daily News, for about an hour. Chris asked all kinds of interesting questions about my hike including my favorite towns along the way. The article Chris is writing will appear in the Sunday (June 19) edition of the Dayton Daily News in the Life section. Look for it!
Around 2:30pm members of the Dayton Hikers group starting arriving. I put out an open invitation and invited anyone to hike the last three miles of journey with me from Eastwood MetroPark to Deed's Point. About 15 people showed up. It was a great turnout! A videographer from the local FOX45/ABC22 TV station in town was there too. I gave him a short interview.
We walked the last three miles of the Buckeye Trail along the Mad River bike path to downtown Dayton. Mother Nature was kind to us and it did not rain. As we approached Deeds Point the fountains along the river were shooting water into the sky. I saw the Dayton skyline and Deeds Point for the first time in three months. The water shooting into the air was quite a site and made for a wonderful homecoming! A crowd of about 20 people had assembled at Deeds Point to help me celebrate the finish of my hike. They were waving flags and cheering me on.
The final stretch of the trail to Deeds Point goes on a foot bridge over the Mad River to Deeds Point. While on the bridge I got a blast of energy and decided to jump into the air and kick my heels in jubilation. Lisa Powell, a photographer for the Dayton Daily News, was there and caught this moment on camera. It felt so good to finish this hike and be back home in Dayton!
I gave "high fives" and hugs to the crowd waiting for me at Deeds Point. They continued cheering, chanting and waving flags. To close the loop on this circuit hike I needed to take ten more steps to the statues of Wilbur and Orville Wright on Deeds Point. I gave a big hug to the statues of the two brothers. I yelled "Off Trail!" The hike was officially over.
Afterwards we went to the Outdoor Recreation office of the Five Rivers MetroParks on Saint Clair Street in downtown Dayton. Brent Anslinger and Mike Fanelli had cake, ice cream and soda pop there for everyone. A slide show of my Buckeye Trail photos was showing on a large screen. There I got a chance to greet everyone and chat with them. A few short speeches and a couple of announcements were made. The crowd sung a belated "Happy Birthday" song to me at at my mother's request. There was a short question and answer period where I talked about my hike.
By about 5:30pm the festivites were over. It was time to return to normal life whatever that may be.
|Farm on Rebert Road between Springfield and Fairborn.|
Today I hiked 16 miles from Springfield to Fairborn. I am now a mere nine miles from finishing this hike!
The hike today was all on roads except for a very short stretch of trail in Cold Springs Park in Fairborn. I hiked fast today.I felt like "a horse heading for the barn" as I am close to Dayton.
My camera started having problems today. I can't take photos. When I turn it on it says "Card Error - Clean The Card Or Format Card". This is a bummer. I am glad my camera waited until the end of my hike to have problems. Hopefully I can salvage my photos from it.
I am anxiously ready for my last day of hiking. I am ready to be at Deeds Point and see Wilbur and Orville. This is where I started my hike on March 20.
If you are in Dayton tomorrow please feel free to come out and celebrate the finish with me. I will be at Deeds Point around 4:00pm rain or shine. If you can't be there put an ear to towards Dayton around then and listen for a big yell of "Off Trail".
|Courthouse in Xenia.|
Today I hiked 25 miles to Springfield. I crossed the 1,400 mile mark on this journey! The weather was perfect for hiking. It was sunny, about 75 degrees and a bit breezy.
The route today was mostly on the Little Miami River bike path except for some road walking in Springfield. The trail goes through the towns of Xenia, Yellow Springs and Springfield.
I stopped in Xenia for a break. I got a cup of coffee and three Krispy Kreme donuts. It was not a healthy snack but it sure tasted good.
Twice today two bicycle riders stopped and asked me if I was practicing for a hike. They saw me with my backpack and trekking poles hiking down the bike path. They assumed I was preparing for an upcoming hike. I said "No, I am out hiking". They both were a bit surprised to learn I was hiking on the Buckeye Trail. One guy said "I have heard of the Buckeye Trail but I have never heard of anyone hiking it."
I stopped for a late lunch in Yellow Springs. I have been to Yellow Springs many times before so I didn't spend time exploring it. I recommend that hikers stop here and see the town. It is such a neat town. The Chamber of Commerce describes the town like this ... "The community is culturally diverse, values self-expression and prides itself on being open, friendly and creative." They are putting it mildly.
From Yellow Springs the trail heads north to Springfield and then turns south to Fairborn. Once upon a time the Buckeye Trail went from Yellow Springs directly to Fairborn. This new route adds about 20 miles to the journey. The current route doesn't exactly make sense to a hiker who is going from Cincinnati to Dayton.
The trail from Yellow Springs to Springfield was mostly on the bike path. The bike path ended at I-70 where the Buckeye Trail goes on roads and sidewalks to downtown Springfield. In Springfield the trails makes a turn to the south and heads to Dayton.
In Springfield the trail passes a couple of seedy taverns. I took a break on the front porch of one. A motorcycle rider came out of the tavern and noticed some feathers I was carrying on my backpack. He told me to be careful with my feathers. He said, by law, I was not allowed to possess hawk feathers unless I was a Native American or I was carrying a permit. He said I could get fined for having them. He said he had feathers at home just like mine. I thanked him for the information and said I would be careful. I did not have the heart to tell him that I had turkey feathers not hawk feathers.
Only 25 more miles to go! I am feeling that it is time to end this hike.
Today I hiked 24 miles to just outside of Xenia. The weather was pleasant today for a change. The temperature was in the mid 70s and there was a nice breeze. No rain. I spent most of the day in Caesar Creek State Park hiking on trails.
I got a late start from my campsite at the Day Use Lodge at Caesar Creek State Park. I was tired from hiking 30 miles the day before. I was very familiar with the Buckeye Trail for the next five miles or so since I had hiked here many times before.
The trail goes by the beach at Caesar Creek State Park. There were not too many people there for a Sunday in June. I remember coming here years ago and the place was packed with people. Today it looked more like a ghost town. Even the concession stand was permanently closed. There were lots of people on the lake in boats today. The boat ramps were very busy.
The trail past the beach goes on horse trails for about ten miles. As usual the horse trails were wet and muddy. It was miserable hiking.
I hope to meet the people responsible for routing the Buckeye Trail on horse trails in Hocking State Forest, Tar Hollow State Forest, Scioto State Forest, East Fork State Park and Caesar Creek State Park. I think they should see for themselves how bad the trail is in these areas. I would like to extend a personal invitation to lead these folks on a hike on these muddy horse trails. Perhaps after their boots got sucked off in the mud a few times they might reconsider using horse trails? (Please note that Leave No Trace principles instruct the hiker to go right through the mud and not go around it to prevent the trail from getting wider.) My guess is that the Buckeye Trail was routed on these horse trails years ago before they got bad.
I eventually left Caesar Creek State Park and hiked on roads to Spring Valley and back to the Little Miami River bike path. It was so nice to get back to flat, dry walking. I hiked about three miles on the bike path before calling it a day. I am spending the night with my mother and her husband who live in the south Dayton area.
|Beach at Caesar Creek State Park.|
Today I hiked 30 miles. Not bad considering I didn't get started until 10:00am. I finished the Loveland section and started the Caesar Creek section. I am on map 26 of 26! Only 74 miles to go.
I awoke to rain this morning. Another storm rolled in and it rained steadily. I was camped right next to the bike path and could hear people coming and going as soon as it got light. The rain did not deter some bike riders, runners and walkers. It deterred me though.
Once the rain stopped it did not take long for the sun to come out and make things hot again. The bike path got much busier. Lots of people were out today.
I passed near Kings Island and could hear the sounds of people having fun. Through the trees I could see the top of one ride called the Drop Zone. This a ride that takes you up to the top of a tall tower and drops you in a free fall. I could hear lots of screams.
I passed the old Kings Powder Mill where explosives were made. The plant opened in 1878 and was acquired by the Peters Cartridge Company before WWII. Remington bought the facility and closed it down.
I stopped for a hamburger, ice cream and Mountain Dew in Morrow. I aired out my tent and rain jacket to dry them out. They were wet from the rain. The proprietor of the restaurant did not seem to mind that I used his patio chairs to dry out my gear.
On the bike path I listened to music and hiked as fast as possible. I knew I had to do a big mile day to make up for a light day yesterday. I listened to the B52's which is fast paced music. I hiked between 3.5 to 4.0 miles per hour. I passed Fort Ancient, Morgans Canoe Livery and went under I-71.
A couple of miles before Oregonia I was greeted by familiar faces. Brent and Amy Anslinger and their two young daughters came out on bikes to find me. Brent and Amy thru hiked the Buckeye Trail in 2003. They brought ice cream and a soda for me. It was good to see them and compare notes about the Buckeye Trail.
As I walked to Orgonia Brent and Amy rode their bikes. They kept me moving at a fast pace. We had supper at a restaurant in Orgonia. They offered to help me slackpack the remaining ten miles I wanted to finish today. I gave them the bulk of my backpacking gear and empty water bottles to fill and took off. They rode their bikes two more miles with me until I turned off the bike path towards Caesar Creek State Park.
They hauled my gear to the Day Use Lodge at Caesar Creek State Park. My map says this is a camping area for BT hikers. I called the Park Office earlier in the day to ask for permission to camp there but nobody answered. When I arrived at the lodge Brent and Amy were waiting for me with adult beverages and brownies.
I camped on the back porch of the lodge. It was a great place to camp. It was covered in the event of rain and had a picnic table and chairs.
I received word earlier in the day that I had been appointed to board of trustees of the Buckeye Trail Association during their quarterly meeting in Columbus. Last week I heard there was going to be a vacancy on the board. I submitted my name as a candidate and was officially appointed today. I am excited about serving on the BTA Board. I see wonderful potential for the Buckeye Trail and lots of exciting possibilities to help out. I want to hear your suggestions and complaints about the Buckeye Trail.
|My campsite along the Little Miami River bike path north of Loveland.|
Today I hiked about 14 miles. I am not sure how far I got as I camped along the Little Miami River bike path north of Loveland just as it got dark.
I got a late start today. I piddled around in the morning. My cousin Bob dropped me off in Milford around 12:30pm. Rain was imminent so I headed for a coffee shop in town. Sure enough the rain came. I stayed in the coffee shop until almost 2:00pm.
I started my trek north on the Little Miami River bike path at The Junction after the storm passed. There was mist and fog on the bike path from the cool rain water on the hot asphalt. It was humid but very pleasant hiking.
I saw another backpacker today, I think. A young attractive lady in a bikini top and shorts with long flowing hair was heading south. She carried a large wooden hiking stick, a small knapsack for a pack and had a large bongo drum slung over her shoulder. We said hello to each other. I thought briefly thought about turning around and hiking with this lady as she looked to be headed somewhere fun.
I arrived in Loveland around 5:00pm after hiking about 10 miles. The town and bike path were bubbling with activity. It was a Friday evening on a summer night and everyone was outside. The ice cream shops and cafes were busy. People were out walking and riding bikes. People were having picnics in the park. I sat at a bench, drank a Mountain Dew and watched all the activity. I did not feel out of place here as Loveland has a trail town feel.
The idyllic summer scene came to a quick end when a severe thunderstorm rolled in. Lightning filled the sky and large booms of thunder caused people to flee to the indoors. A hard rain pelted the ground. In a matter of minutes just about everyone was gone except a couple of cyclists taking cover in a picnic shelter and me.
I had some ice cream and ate supper at a cafe waiting for the storm to pass. Around 8:00pm it was still raining but I resumed hiking anyway. The rain quit a few minutes later and the sun tried to come out. It never did emerge but it gave an eerie orange glow to the western sky. Water drops continued to drip from the trees as if it was still raining.
I planned to hike well past dark. But only after an hour of hiking I came across a nice spot to camp along the bike path. The spot had a picnic table covered by a roof and a gravel pad for parking bicycles. I set up my tent on the gravel pad and strung a clothe ,line above the picnic table to hang my wet clothes. A few cyclists came by. Daylight had faded as I climbed into my tent.
I reflect more and more on this journey as the end of this hike nears. At times it is almost overwhelming to think about what I have been through and experienced. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience.
A long distance hike has two aspects. There is the outer journey and there is the inner journey. I think a lot of people forget about the inner journey and focus on the outer journey instead. Many Ohioans think Ohio scenery is boring and seek out so called "more beautiful" places to hike. They focus on their outer journey. They want sights pleasing to the eye. They want to come home with photos of mountains, oceans and wildlife to show family and friends where they have been.
To me it is the inner journey that is more rewarding. Sure, I like pretty sights too but I get my kicks from how I grow, change and learn from a long distance hike. I get strength and confidence from hiking. I get a peaceful feeling and feel connected to nature. My mind and body feel so connected on long hikes. I can heal my mind by giving my body exercise. The outer journey becomes less important to me.
On the Buckeye Trail you can experience both incredible outer and inner journeys. It is all here. It has everything an adventure needs except for you. The Buckeye Trail is waiting for you. All you need to do is take that first step.
I will finish this post with one of my favorite quotes ... "Does the person make the journey or does the journey make the person?"