April 29 - New Cumberland

Ohio's Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier.

Today I hiked 19 miles to New Cumberland. Not too bad for getting a late start at 1:00pm.

Soon after leaving Bolivar the Buckeye Trail goes by Fort Laurens. Fort Laurens was built in 1778 and is the site of the only battle of the Revolutionary War in Ohio. The battle was against British led Indians. In the year after the fort was built about 20 men died in various attacks and were buried there. In 1973 the remains of  soldiers were excavated. In 1976, the year of our nation's Bicentennial, one set of remains was placed in a special tomb and was dedicated as Ohio's Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier.

The trail continued on the Ohio Erie Canal Towpath to near the town of Zoar. Mary Hamilton, the Massillon, section supervisor, had emailed me earlier to inform me that the Tuscarawas River had flooded parts of the trail. She advised that I take an alternate route. I decided to press on instead. I soon came to the flooded area and decided it was not wise to attempt it. Luckily I was near a railroad bridge over the Tuscarawas River. I climbed up the embankment to tracks and crossed over the river on the railroad bridge and hiked SR-212 past the flooded area.

Soon after leaving the Zoar area the topography of the land changed. Gone were the straight, flat roads. There were now rolling hills and windy roads. I was out of northeast Ohio. I saw Trillium in bloom for the first time. I joined back up with the North Country Trail which comes from Pennsylvania.

The plan for the night was to hike until dark, sneak in the woods and find a camp site somewhere. Around 6:00pm I took a short break and checked my phone messages. Mary left a message and offered to pick me up and let me stay at her house for the night. She knew there were no camping areas where I would be. I accepted her offer. She picked me up around 7:30pm and took me to her house in Dover.

In addition to being the Massillon section supervisor Mary is a trail maintainer and caretaker for the Buckeye Trail Association Barn near Tappan Lake. Mary said that at times she gets help maintaining the Buckeye Trail from people who must perform community as part of their sentence for minor crimes they commit. What a novel way to help keep the trail maintained.

April 28 - Bolivar

Captain Blue posing with the John Glenn statue in John Glenn Park.
 Today I hiked 18 miles to Bolivar. The route today almost entirely on the Ohio Erie Canal Towpath Trail except for the last mile into Bolivar.

Maria and I had breakfast at Riffil's Tavern. The fellow who gave us the bottle of wine the night before was there and picked up the tab for our breakfast. Maria hopped into her car and headed north for work and I headed south on the Buckeye Trail.

The weather today was quite nice. The dark clouds in the morning gave way to blue skies, sun and puffy clouds. It was a bit windy but otherwise a fine day for hiking. Things around me looked different. There was green everywhere. The grass was green, the trees were leafing out and plants were growing. I could no longer see straight through the woods. I had finally reached spring! It was a delight to be hiking down the canal towpath and seeing spring everywhere.

In Massillon I stopped by the post office and mailed two pounds of gear home. I mailed home my fleece pants, neoprene gloves, a winter hat and two maps. I could still get a streak of cold weather and wish I had these items but I am anxious to lighten my load.

In the town of Navarre I stopped in the local coffee shop for a break. It was ladies card playing day there. When I walked in the front door about 14 sets of female eyes were staring at me. Card playing temporarily halted. I addressed the crowd and explained I was hiking on the Buckeye Trail, when I started and how long I have hiked. They were all very friendly and welcoming. Card playing resumed. I ate a light lunch, drank a cup of coffee and recharged my phone.

My destination for the day was Bolivar. Before reaching town I tried to find a place to camp in or near town. I didn't have any luck. I called the village office and got no answer. I called the canoe livery and got no answer. I called the local police department but the fellow on duty was a part timer and not from the area. I called the sheriff's office. They came up empty handed. The guy at the bike/hike shop in town said to just sneak into Fort Lauren State Memorial and camp there.

Luckily I had arranged to meet my college friend, John Boron, for dinner. He offered to take me back to his home in North Canton for the night. I accepted. He will take me back to the trail around noon tomorrow. John's wife, Juli, is also a college friend. John served as fraternity president and I served as vice-president during our senior year at Bowling Green State University. Juli was the president of our Little Sister program. Their dog, Ginger, is a sock thief. One of my socks is missing. Ginger won't tell where it is.

April 27 - Crystal Springs - 600 Mile Mark

This is where the Little Loops ends.

I hiked 21 miles today to just past Crystal Springs north of Massillon. I have now hiked over 600 miles on this journey. I am finished with the Little Loop and back on the main circuit of the Buckeye Trail. I have entered the Massillon section.

The hike today was all on roads except for two short treks through community parks. I enjoyed walking on the dry pavement. It was much easier than hiking on muddy, saturated trails in the woods.
This morning it was very windy with ominous looking weather. Dark clouds loomed on the horizon. Rain drops spit from the sky. The weather report said to expect winds of 20-30 mph. I felt every bit of it. The wind blew me around on the road. The high winds reminded me of hiking in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire on the Appalachian Trail.

I stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Green. It was a good call since it poured down rain once I got there. I stayed there over an hour and a half until the rain stopped. That was it for the rain. It did not rain the rest of the day.

Around 6pm I arrived at the junction of the Little Loop. It was two weeks ago when I was here last. I could not believe how different it looked. Spring had arrived. The woods are starting to turn green.
I paused and looked back north and reflected on how much fun I had on the Little Loop. I had seen some neat places, met some great people and had some incredible experiences on the Little Loop. Once again I was so wrong about the Buckeye Trail. I thought the Little Loop would be a nuisance loop and add unnecessary miles to my journey. Instead it has been one of the best experiences so far.

I turned and walked away from the Little Loop and headed south. A mile later I stopped at Riffil's Riverside Tavern which is between the Tuscarawrus River and the Ohio Erie Canal. Maria met me here. This time she brought her camping gear. We camped in a back lot of the tavern along the river. Inside the tavern the patrons were quite interested in our story. A guy from Dayton goes hiking through the area and meets a girl from Cleveland. She meets up with him along the trail and shares his company. One fellow, Matt, wanted to do something nice for us so he drove home, got a bottle of wine, brought it back and gave it to us. That was real sweet of him.

Tomorrow begins begins a new phase of the hike. It is time to focus on getting to the half way point. I am now out of range for weekday visits from Maria. The nature of the trail changes to more hills and less cities. Time to lay down some miles.

April 26 - Hartville

Lisa and Dana Zintek

Today I hiked 17 miles and ended near Hartville.

It was a pleasant morning. No rain last night or this morning. I enjoyed a cup of coffee along the shore and watched the sun rise.

The rest of the hike through the Mogadore Reservoir was pleasant. The trail was not as muddy. This made for more enjoyable hiking. The reservoir was in view for most of the hiking. The sun was shining and it was warm. It was a nice spring day.

My route took me past the hangar for the Goodyear blimp. Goodyear has a large facility near Mogadore on Wingfoot Road for their airship operations. I did not see the blimp.

Some of the road walking was tough on me. It got warm, humid and windy. I was walking into a 15-20 mph headwind. The wind would blow me from side to side. It wore me out. I took a break in the front yard of a farm house. I plopped down in the shade of large tree, took my shoes off and laid down. The owner of the house waved to me while he cut the grass.

While hiking on Griggy Road a car stopped ahead of me and two people got out. They walked towards me. I thought to myself that this could be interesting. They waved to me and asked if I was Captain Blue. It was Dana and Lisa Zintek. They are members of the Buckeye Trail Association. Dana is the section supervisor for the Akron section. Lisa is the newsletter editor. They had been following my journey online and asked if I needed anything. They came to help.

I needed a ride from Hartville to a hotel along I-77 where I planned to spend the night. I gave them my pack and hiked the last several miles of the day at a faster pace to get done sooner. At a road crossing after Quail Hollow State Park they met me with two liters of water (which I sorely needed since I was still drinking lake water) and a box of chocolates made in Hartville. The route of the Buckeye Trail in Quail Hollow State Park confused me and wore me down mentally. I decided to not hike the remaining one mile into Hartville and called it quits for the day. Dana and Lisa took me to lunch at a nice restaurant. Then they dropped me off at the hotel.

It was really nice meeting Dan and Lisa. I enjoyed their company and conversation. All day long I had fretted about how I was going to get from Hartville to the hotel. Hitchhiking was my answer. Then Dana and Lisa appeared and solved my dilemma. Trail magic at work when I least expected it and needed it most.

Maria is meeting me after work and will spend some time withe me this evening.

How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

April 25 - Mogadore Reservoir

Fording a flooded creek in West Branch State Park.

I hike 22 miles today and camped near the Mogodore Reservoir. It was a warm, wet and rainy hike.

Jim and Gayle Wohlken dropped me off near the Ravenna Aresenl around 11:00am. They loaded me up with homemade chocolate chip cookies and a box of chocolates made in Burton. The Wohlkens are fine hosts.

The Buckeye Trail follows the perimeter of the Ravenna Arsenel for several miles. The Ravenna Arsenel, owned by the US Military, was used during World War II to produce munitions and ordnance. It is quite a large facility. I was told that the reason Ravenna was selected for the arsenel was for its large number of cloudy days each year. Having the munitions factory in a cloudy city would make it harder for the enemy to fly over to take photos.

The trail soon entered West Branch State Park for 7 miles walking in the woods. The trail was saturated with water and quite muddy. It made for difficult hiking.

The highlight of my day was when I came to a flooded section of the Buckeye Trail. The trail went down into a ravine and the lake was so high that the trail was completely under water. I quickly sized up the situation and knew I was going through the water. I was not going to get frustrated or curse the situation. Turning back or trying to bushwhack upstream didn't seem like good uses of time and energy. I plunged into the water and sank in the mud. It was fun. The water was mainly knee deep but it came up to my mid thigh in one place. I laughed and smiled the whole way across. There was a bridge floating in the water. This is the bridge hikers normally use. I felt sorry for hikers who encounter obstacles like this and get frustrated or blame the situation on the trail maintainer. A mile later there was a second crossing like this. It was just as fun to cross. (Note to mother: I would not have attempted this crossing in swift moving water.)

There was some road walking to get to Mogadore Reservoir. It rained pretty hard on the way. I was soaked but warm. The thunderstorms never materialized.

The last three miles of the day in Mogadore Reservoir were on trails. It was tough hiking. Lots of mud, slick areas and downed trees and limbs from the recent storms. It felt like an obstacle course of going over and under trees. I fell once when I bent down to go under a tree. I landed softly in a mud puddle. No bruises or scrapes.

I found a really nice campsite that others had used before. It was perched on a gravel mound and was dry. I could see the reservoir. The rain had let up and it was getting close to 8:00pm so I called it quits for the day and made camp.

I saw numerous beavers swimming in the water. Often the beavers would slam their tails on the water and make a loud splash to alert other beavers that I was there. It was a fine place to end a wet day of hiking.

How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

April 25 - Ravenna - Easter

Trail in Camp Asbury.

Today I hiked 20 miles to Ravenna. It is Easter Sunday.

Maria dropped me off in Hiram around 9:15am in a steady, light rain. It rained like this for most of the day. The first part of my hike was on country roads. Nobody was on the roads except the earthworms and me.

After a few miles of road walking the trail entered the woods in Camp Asbury. Camp Asbury is a owned by the East Ohio Conference of Methodist Churches and used for youth group outings. The trail was saturated from all the rain and was quite muddy. The mud did not bother me. I felt bad for the trail as my footsteps can have quite an impact to the trail in these wet conditions. The camp was a ghost town on this rainy Sunday morning. I saw no one as I weaved through the campsites, picnic areas and buildings of the facility.

After leaving Camp Asbury I finished the Burton section of the Buckeye Trail and entered the Mogadore section. I am now on map 11 of 26.

The trail goes on the Headwaters Trail to Mantua. The Headwaters Trail is built on a former Erie Lackawanna railroad line. It was nice to walk on the crushed limestone surface. Just before the town of Mantua I took a lunch break in the rain on a bench. After my break I soon passed a McDonalds which was open on Easter. I was kind of glad I didn't pass it sooner as I would likely have taken my break in there. It was better to be outside even if it was raining.

I crossed over the Ohio Turnpike for the last time. I've crossed to either side of it several times on this journey. At the crossing I saw a sign saying I was leaving the Lake Erie watershed and entering the Ohio River watershed.

The 20 mile hike in the rain today was not bad at all. Most people would cringe at the thought of doing this. The temps were in the mid 50s and there was almost no wind. I stayed warm and enjoyed the journey.

Jim and Shane Wohlken picked me up at 5:00pm. I am staying with them tonight at their home in Burton. On the way to Burton we drove through Amish country. We saw many Amish people walking and riding buggies on the roads. Jim pointed out the Amish homes. No cars in the driveway, no electric wires and only one curtain in the window.

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

April 22 & 23 - Zero Days In Cleveland

I took Friday and Saturday of Easter weekend as zero days. I was hosted by Maria at her home in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland. It is a mixed ethnic neighborhood of Italian, Polish, Ukrainian and Hispanic people.

Friday was a cold and rainy day. It was a good day to not hike. My first order of business was to get a hair cut. I went to Mario's Barber Shop on Broadview Road. Mario has a quaint little barber shop in Old Brooklyn. I got both my hair and beard trimmed. While I was at Mario's barber shop Maria got her hair cut down the road.

For lunch went to the Little Polish Diner. It was neat to see the flurry of activity at the diner and everyone enjoying the Lentin specials. We had cabbage & noodles and potato cakes.

Maria still has a collection of old records and a turn table. We spent the evening listening to old albums and reminiscing the years of the late 1970's and early 1980's. The old songs brought back many memories for both of us.

The weather on Saturday was beautiful. It was sunny and almost 70 degrees.

On Saturday we went to a bakery owned by an Italian and a Ukrainian. There was a line out the door  with everyone picking up baked goodies before Easter. The lamb cake was a big seller.

Next we visited an old building where Maria was instrumental in having a mural painted on it. The mural made an ugly brick wall look pretty. Maria received a grant to pay for the supplies and got college students and neighbor kids to paint it. The mural is of a rural scene of how Old Brooklyn once looked when the area had a large number of green houses.

We drove by the childhood home of actor Drew Carey. Drew Carey grew up in Old Brooklyn. Drew owns his childhood home and keeps it well maintained.

We went for a hike at Big Creek Metropark in Cleveland. There were lots of people outside enjoying the nice weather. Maria is a member of the Friends Of Big Creek which is a group who is trying to acquire and preserve land in the Big Creek watershed.

After the hike I had a wardrobe malfunction with the zipper on my convertible pants. I could not zip the lower legs back on to my pants. We made a quick trip to Dicks Sporting Goods to buy a replacement pair.

Tomorrow I sadly say goodbye to Maria. She is spending Easter Sunday with her family and I need to get back on the Buckeye Trail and resume hiking.

April 21 - Hiram

New section of Buckeye Trail in Burton.

Today I hiked 21 miles to Hiram. I hiked with a full pack on for the first time in about a week. It felt good to carry a full pack again.

I resumed hiking on the Maple Highlands Trail bike path in Chardon around 8:00am. Nobody else was on the bike path but me. I hiked the remaining few miles on the Maple Highlands Trail and entered Headwaters Park.

Headwaters Park and much of the land I hiked along today is owned by the city of Akron. Akron's municipal water supply comes from the Cuyahoga River. Akron owns a lot of land up river to protect their watershed from development.

The 2.5 mile hike through Headwaters Park was scenic and easy. The trail was wide, dry and made of crushed gravel. It felt nice to be in the woods. The Skunk Cabbage is still in bloom here.

I arrived in Burton around 11:30am and spent an hour with Jim and Gayle Wohlken at their home just off the Buckeye Trail in Burton. They fed me pizza, coffee and chocolate chip cookies. Jim is very knowledgeable on the history of the area.

After lunch I met Patti Cook in the square in town. We visited the Burton sugar shack where they sell maple syrup and all kinds of treats made from maple syrup. I sampled their wares. After that we hiked a new section of the Buckeye Trail which will open soon. The new section is about a mile long and goes in woods and farm fields instead of roads and sidewalks.

The rest of the day was a 12 mile road walk to Hiram. It was a scenic walk along a country road. The sun came out and warmed things up. Hiram is home to Hiram College.

I am waiting in front of the post office in Hiram for Maria. Maria is hosting me for the next two nights.

About Maria ... She lives in Cleveland, is about my age, single, no children. She is Italian and is the youngest of eight siblings. She is a writer, artist and web developer. She is a fireball of energy and has an unbridled passion for adventure.

Tomorrow is a zero day.

April 20 - Chardon

Today I hiked 17 miles to Chardon. It was a busy day. I have now hiked over 500 miles on the Buckeye Trail.

I was on the trail by 8:00am. It was 60 degrees and a little sunny when I started. My route today took me along Big Creek. Big Creek is beautiful. It was flowing fast from the rain from the previous night. Big Creek is aptly named. It seems large enough to be called a river. The weather changed quickly this morning. When I was hiking through Girdled Woods MetroPark it became cold, windy and rainy again. I took a break under the SR-608 highway bridge along Big Creek to get out of the rain. I felt like a toll under a bridge.

My route took me to Big Creek Park in Geauga County. When I walked in the front door of the Nature Center they asked if I was Captain Blue. There was a note there for me from Jim and Gayle Wohlken who live in Burton. Their son, Shane "The Gimp", is a Triple Crown Hiker (AT, PCT & CDT). Their son had received a lot of help from people along his hikes. They wanted to help me out if they could.

The folks at Big Creek Nature Center wanted to know more about my hike. I gave a mini interview and they took some photos of me. They tweeted about my visit and posted a photo of me on their Facebook page. Check out the post.

Also at Big Creek Nature Center I met Patti Cook. Patti is the section supervisor for the Burton section where I am currently hiking. Patti recently took over responsibility for this section. I gave her some suggestions on where I thought a few blue blazes could be added. It was nice to meet her.

Soon I was in Chardon. Chardon is a small town with a town square like you would find in New England. Chardon received 151 inches of snow this year. Chardon was part of the original Western Reserve and hosts the annual Maple Festival.

While in town I met with Josh who is a newspaper reporter for the Chardon Maple Leaf. I did an interview with him and he took some photos. Look for an article in next week's edition of the Maple Leaf.

I finished my hike today about three miles south of Chardon on the Maple Highlands bike path. Just before finishing my hike I received a phone call from Gayle Wohlken. Jim and Gayle offered to to take Debbie and me to dinner in Chardon. We accepted. We had a nice dinner at a fabulous pizza place. Afterwards I stayed in Chardon and met up with Tom Sari. Tom is a college buddy and fraternity brother living in Chardon. We went to the local brewery for a few beverages and reminisced about our college days.

Tonight is my fifth and final night staying with Debbie Zampini. I can't begin to thank Debbie enough for being such a great trail angel. Without having met me she offered to host me. It has been a great stay and one I will always remember. Debbie is quite involved in the Buckeye Trail Association and has inspired me to get involved.

I have said this before and I will say it again. I thought I knew what hiking the Buckeye Trail was about before I left home. I was way wrong. Hiking on the Buckeye Trail has been such a rich and rewarding experience. More so than I ever expected. The Little Loop has been extra special. Before my hike I saw the Little Loop as "extra miles" that would cost me time, money and energy and take me away from the main circuit. I wasn't looking forward to it and I wanted to just get it done. It has turned out to be some of the most rewarding hiking on the Buckeye Trail so far.

I wonder how many other people are out there who are hesitant to take a long hike on the Buckeye Trail because they think it will be boring or not exciting? It just baffles me on how wrong I was about my preconceived notions of the Buckeye Trail. And I consider myself to be an experienced hiker.

April 19 - Painesville

Lake Erie as seen from Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve

I hiked 18 miles today and finished at the southern end of The Greenway bike path in Painesville. It was a cold, wet, windy and miserable day for hiking. But it felt good to be out hiking.

The first part of the hike was on sidewalks in Mentor. Soon I reached Lake Shore drive which meant I was near Lake Erie. After entering Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve I hiked on the Lake Front trail and got my first glimpse of Lake Erie. It was a welcome sight! I was getting near the northern terminus of the Buckeye Trail.

A couple of miles later I was walking along Lake Erie in Headlands Beach State Park. At Headlands Beach State Park there is a mile long natural sand beach which is the largest in Ohio. It was hard to enjoy the beach or Lake Erie as the winds were blowing and the temperature was in the upper 30s. Soon I arrived at the northern terminus of the Buckeye Trail. This is a milestone for me. I have now completed one-third of the Buckeye Trail. I am also finished with the great trek northward. The trail now goes south.

One the Greenway bike path in Painesville a lady named Suzy was walking behind me and caught up to me. We said hello to each other. I explained that I was hiking on the Buckeye Trail. She seemed a bit perplexed about the Buckeye Trail so I kept talking. She was walking fast so I kicked it into high gear to keep up with her. I showed her a few blue blazes. When we parted ways I thanked her for the chat and for not being afraid of me. She said she is a Lake County felon probation officer and generally doesn't trust people. But wanted to know what I was up to. It was nice to have some company.

Buckeye Trail Northern Terminus

I made it to the northern terminus of the Buckeye Trail at 2:15pm today. It is a cold, windy and rainy day.

Map link: http://m.google.com/u/m/dVyxkv

April 18 - Mentor

Dan, Captain Blue and Francine at Penitentiary Glen Nature Center.
I resumed hiking today from North Chagrin Reservation. I hiked almost 20 miles into Mentor. It was not good weather for hiking. The temperature was in the upper 30's and rainy. I needed to get hiking again regardless of the weather.

The hike today was mainly on roads with the exception of Chapin Forest and Penitentiary Glen. There road walking was surprisingly scenic. I met a fellow on Rogers Road who was at the end of his driveway retrieving  his garbage can. He commented that it was not a nice day for hiking. I said "not really". One block later and much to my surprise this fellow caught up with me and walked with me a few minutes. He decided to go for a two mile walk and wanted to chat with me for a bit.

By the time I reached Chapin Forest it was raining pretty hard. I was cold and wet. Chapin Forest has a lodge. People were inside. I knocked on the door and asked if I could come in and warm up. The employee who answered the door would not let me in because a school group was there. He said I could take a break at the picnic table (in the rain) or in the men's restroom. I choose the men's room. I sat on a bench across from the urinal and ate lunch. It was warm and dry in there. I did sneak in the lodge once to fill my water bottle. My water bottle was too tall to fit under the faucet in the restroom.

The trails in Chapin forest are nice. There is an old quarry there which has been converted to a wetland. From the overlook I could see the edge of land at Lake Erie. I got excited.  I am ready to reach the shore of Lake Erie and make the turn to the south.

Penitentiary Glen was nice. There are a couple of stories on how the glen got its name. One is that it is an easy place to get into but hard to get out of. The walls of the glen are steep. There are no trails into or out of it. The Halle family once owned the glen and had a farm there. The Halle family were the owners of the Halle Brothers of Cleveland which was once a large retailer in the area.

The barn from the Halle Farm is now the Nature Center at Penitentiary Glen. It is a beautiful facility. The Lake Metroparks employees were waiting for when I arrived at the Nature Center. They were very nice. When I walked in the door the receptionist said "You must be Captain Blue". We heard you were coming. She made me a cup of coffee, gave me a Hershey bar and some peanuts. I got a tour of the Nature Center from Dan and Francine who are naturalists there. I learned about the glen and its history. We chatted about many things including when Brent and Amy Anslinger spent the night in the nature center on their 2003 thru hike on the Buckeye Trail. Thank you Lake Metroparks!

Upon reaching Mentor I was met by Maria. I met Maria a day earlier at the Buckeye Trail Association Booth at EarthFest. She works at Case Western Reserve, is in the IT field and is an adventurous person. We went to dinner in Willoughby and she drove me back to Deb's place.

April 17 - EarthFest Cleveland Zoo

Today I took a second zero day. The day started with some bad news. A pet cat of my hostess, Debbie Zampini, had a stroke last night. We awoke to find Good Girl, the cat, paralyzed in the rear legs and looking quite ill. Debbie drove Good Girl to the animal hospital but did not return home with her. The cat could not be helped. This is the first pet that Debbie has lost. I feel very badly for her.

We got to EarthFest, the Earth Day Celebration at the Cleveland Zoo, around noon and headed for the Buckeye Trail Association booth. I stayed at the booth to help out while Debbie roamed the zoo.

I spoke to many people about the Buckeye Trail. I got a kick out of telling them that I walked from Dayton to Cleveland on the Buckeye Trail.  This caused most people to at least raise an eyebrow. One lady did not believe me. I reassured her that I did but she did not look convinced. Another lady, Kim, was so intrigued by my journey that she gave me a hug! I have hiked 7,400 miles on the Appalachian Trail and I don't ever recall getting a hug from someone for being a hiker. One fellow asked me if I needed any money. I said no but replied that he could make a donation to the Buckeye Trail Association. He took out his wallet and made a $40 donation on the spot. Thank you Dave M! I met a girl named Maria. This could end up being the topic of a whole 'nother post.

It was a great experience to meet so many people and talk to them about the Buckeye Trail. I am so glad I happened to be in the Cleveland area on the Buckeye Trail on the day of EarthFest.

I stayed at the Buckeye Trail Booth until almost closing at 5:00pm. By then Debbie had wandered back and we were ready to go. I never did see any of the animals at the zoo. On the way home we stopped at an Italian restaurant and had dinner. At her home one less cat greeted us at the door. I could tell that Debbie was grieving for the loss of Good Girl.

I am heading back on the trail tomorrow rain or shine. Looks like it will be rain.

April 16 - Zero Day

Today is a zero day for me. No hiking today. It is a good day for a zero since it is very windy and rainy.

I am staying with Debbie Zampini in Chardon for a few days. Debbie is on the board of trustees of the Buckeye Trail Association. She is also the section supervisor for the Bedford section where I am hiking now. She will assist me in hiking the remaining portion of the Little Loop. Debbie has hosted other Buckeye Trail hikers.

In Chardon we went to the Sport Rack shop which does embroidering. I am having a hat made with the words "Buckeye Trail Hiker" on the front and "Buckeye Trail" on the back. I think it will help to wear this hat while I hike. People who see me will know what I am doing even if they don't speak to me. Laura at the Sport Rack was very helpful. She opened her shop for us on a Saturday afternoon when she is normally closed. The hat should be finished Tuesday.

I am taking another zero day tomorrow. We are going to EarthFest 2011 at the Cleveland Zoo. EarthFest is Ohio╩╝s largest environmental education event and the longest running Earth Day celebration in the nation. There are over 150 exhibitors and the event attracts 50,000 people. The Buckeye Trail Association will have a booth there.

April 15 - Chagrin River

The Buckeye Tral along the Chagrin River.

Today I hiked 17.5 miles to the Chagrin River just past North Chagrin Reservation. I hoped to hike a little further today but it was a good spot to stop.

The weather was nice today! The temperature was almost 60 degrees and it was sunny. Used To Could (Paul) hiked with me for the first hour. I am happy to say we did not wander off the Buckeye Trail this time.

Shortly after Paul turned back I saw two young ladies ahead of me walking on the Buckeye Trail. I put it in high gear, caught up with them, exchanged hellos and passed them up. At the next turn I got out my map and purposely acted a bit confused about where I was. By then the two ladies caught up with me and we struck up a conversation. (This was my plan.) Their names are Ginni and Dawn. We chatted for a few minutes and I took their photo. I gave them one of my Buckeye Trail cards and thanked them for not being afraid of me. Dawn replied that she is from Newark, New Jersey and it takes a lot to make her afraid. I chucked and we parted ways.

I took a coffee break at Look About Lodge in the Cleveland Metroparks. I used my alcohol stove to make a cup of Starbucks instant coffee. While studying the map I realized at this spot I was 999 more trail miles from Deed's Point in Dayton where I started.

The route continued on the Emerald Necklace along the Chagrin River in the South Chagrin Reservation. It was very pretty. There was an easy ford of Willey Creek. Soon I came to the end of the woods walking. For the next seven miles I walked along Chagrin River Road. It was scenic. Large estates and farms on one side and the Chagrin River on the other side. I had to stay alert for traffic since it was Friday afternoon and traffic was picking up.

Just before reaching North Chagrin Reservation a lady in a car stopped and said "Hello Andy". It was Gimley (Gail) who I had dinner with two nights before. She drove ahead, parked the car, met me on the trail, and hiked with me. When we reached North Chagrin Reservation we met Used To Could (Paul). The three of us hiked together for a few miles. It was great to have company. When we finished the North Chagrin Reservation I decided to call it quits for the day and ride back with Paul.

I am spending a third night with Paul and Laura Lynch. They are wonderful hosts. It has been a nice stay.

I am taking zero days Saturday and Sunday. I need a break. The forecast for Saturday is for strong winds and rain. I move on to my next host, Debbie Zampini, tomorrow.

April 14- Harper Ridge Picnic Area

Along Tinker's Creek.

Today I hiked 20 miles to the Harper Ridge Picnic area in the Bedford section. I got a late start today. I didn't hit the trail until 11:00am. I began the hike at the northern junction of the Little Loop of the Buckeye Trail where the Medina, Akron and Bedford sections meet.

The route today was mostly in the woods on a soil footpath. This was a pleasant surprise. If you look at a map of where I hiked I was surrounded by Cleveland suburbia. I hiked in what is called the "Emerald Necklace". The Cleveland Metroparks are called the "Emerald Necklace" since they form a nearly complete ring around the Cleveland communities.

Paul "Used To Could" Lynch hiked with me for a few miles today. We were chatting and not paying attention and missed a turn. By the time we realized it we were a half mile off the Buckeye Trail. We back tracked to nearest blue blaze. From there we found the turn we missed. For the rest of the day I kept a keen eye out for blazes.

The highlights today were Bridal Veil Falls and Tinkers Creek.

I finished the hike around 7:15pm. Earlier we stashed a car at the Harper Ridge Picnic Area. I drove back to Paul's house and spent the night there.

Map To Harper Ridge Picnic Area: http://m.google.com/u/m/w8RjdY

April 13 - Crystal Springs

Lock 4 South on the Ohio Erie Canal
Today I hiked 15 miles to Crystal Springs. I have completed the Akron section and finished Map 8. I hiked to the southern junction of  the Little Loop.

The sunshine and clear skies washed away spring blues from yesterday. The temperatures reached the mid 50's and the skies were mostly sunny. Quite a change from yesterday.

South of Barberton I listened to music on my headphones. When the U2 song  "Beautiful Day" played I sang and shouted out the lyrics loudly. I was having a great time until I noticed two ladies on their morning walk quickly approaching. I decided to be quiet as to not scare them. We chatted for a few minutes as they were interested in what I was doing.

The hike was along the Ohio Erie Canal Towpath Trail. It was a very beautiful section and had a surprisingly remote feel. For many miles the canal was on one side of the trail and the Tuscarawrus River was on the other. It felt like I was hiking on a linear island.

There were lots of people using the trail today. Walkers, joggers, cyclists. I waved to all of them. Most would wave back. I even waved to the people who would not make eye contact with me, mostly solo females. They probably learned in the self-defense class to not make eye contact with strangers. Waving is an ancient form of letting someone know you are unarmed. By displaying an open hand it shows you are not carrying a weapon.

I saw many Painted turtles sunning themselves on logs in the canal. I saw a small garter snake on the trail soaking up the sun. He laid there motionless and let me take several photos of him.

In Crystal Springs I was met by Paul "Used To Could" Lynch from Mayfield. I met Paul last year on the Appalachian Trail. We ended up on the same stretch of trail at the same time and hiked together off and on for five weeks. We became friends quickly. We were both section hikers and finished our end-to-end hike on the AT on Katahdin on the same day.

Paul drove me back to his house where we had a wonderful dinner with his wife Laura and another couple, Dennis and Gail. I met Gail (aka Gimley) on the AT last year when she hiked with Paul for a section of the "100 Mile Wilderness".

I have flip-flopped up to the northern junction of the Little Loop. It is time to start hiking north again. This next section, the Bedford section, will take me to Lake Erie. I am looking forward to seeing Lake Erie, turning south and finishing the Little Loop.

Life is good. It was a great day to be a hiker or a reptile.

Map Link to Crystal Springs: http://goo.gl/maps/uH7I

Random Thoughts - Trail Magic

Floating above the Buckeye Trail.

One of the greatest pleasures of hiking the Buckeye Trail so far is the trail magic. I have been fortunate to be the recipient several times already of good, old fashion, trail magic.

By good, old fashion, trail magic I mean unplanned, random acts of kindness towards me by strangers. And for me the kindness was unexpected and welcome.

For example the time the couple gave me three bottles of water at the end of a long, hot hiking day. This was trail magic to me.

This couple did not set out that day to help a hiker. It was unplanned and random. I had not seen anyone on the trail for hours. I was thirsty and needed water. The water was a welcome sight. To them the three  bottles of water was small gesture of kindness. To me the water a great gesture of kindness. It came to me when I least expected it and needed it the most. This is real trail tragic by real trail angels.

This kind of trail magic is a dying breed on the Appalachian Trail. Sure it does happen on the AT but much less frequently and usually not by local residents. There are thousands of long distance hikers on the AT each year. The AT has become very popular and quite crowded at times. Hikers on the AT have come to expect and almost demand trail magic at times. This diminishes the incentive of people to go out of their way to help hikers.

Sure there are "hiker feed" events on the AT, cans of soda stashed at road crossings, cookies left in shelters and free rides to be had. To me this is not pure trail magic.

On the Buckeye Trail you can still find this kind of trail magic. It is there for the hiker to experience. Don't expect it and don't look for it. It will find you. There are unsuspecting trail angels on the Buckeye Trail who are waiting for you.

April 12 - Barberton

Today I hiked 24 miles to Barberton. My total miles hiked now on the Buckeye Trail is now over 400 miles. John dropped me off at Hunt Farm at 7:45am.

The weather was in the mid 40's, cloudy and a bit breezy. The sun never came out today. A few rain drops fell.

The Buckeye Trail followed the Ohio Erie Canal Towpath Trail today except for jaunts into O'Neill Woods MetroPark and Sand Run MetroPark. Leaving the tow path trail to hike in these two parks was not a welcome change for me. The tow path trail was level, wide and dry. It was carefree hiking. Accessing these two parks meant walking a short distance on  busy roads, climbing up a steep hill and hiking in a park where the familiar blue blazes of the Buckeye Trail are not allowed. The two parks were nice but lacked any outstanding features. Nonetheless it felt good to be hiking in the woods again.

I saw Skunk Cabbage in the two MetroParks. This depressed me. Skunk Cabbage is a plant that grows in early spring. This means it is still early spring! Skunk Cabbage was growing in Dayton a month ago. I knew spring came later in northeast Ohio but I didn't realize by a whole month.

The Buckeye Trail goes right through downtown Akron. It was quite an adventure to follow the tow path trail through a large city. The trail goes right through the former Goodrich industrial complex. I almost got lost hiking between factory buildings but I got help from a worker there. After leaving the industrial area the trail follows the canal through an economically depressed area. It was a bit strange hiking through a blighted area. But I fit in well.

The route from Akron to Barberton was scenic. I saw joggers and bicycle riders. John picked me up in Barberton around 5:15pm. We made a quick stop at Appalachian Outfitters where I picked up two items. Many thanks to Carol for the fine service and listening to my stories.

I am staying with John and Erica a second night. They are good hosts. They are getting married in October. I have enjoyed my stay with them.

April 11 - Hunt Farm

I hiked 9 miles today. I didn't get as far as planned.

I woke to rain this morning. I was glad I set up camp in the chicken coop. I stayed dry. The roof only leaked a little bit. I didn't get started hiking until 11:00am because of the rain and feeling tired from the day before.

My first stop was the Boston Store Visitors Center in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. There I stumped them with a simple question. I asked where I could mail a letter. I explained the letter was already addressed and had postage. It took three people to answer. Finally the NPS employee in charge agreed to mail the letter for me on his way home. But he made sure to tell me that he would do this on personal time and not on government time. I gave him one of my Buckeye Trail cards. He looked at it and tried to give it back to me. Nobody has done that before. I got the feeling they don't get too many Buckeye Trail backpackers or people who want to mail letters.

The trail from Boston to Peninsula was all in the woods. It was a little less undulating than yesterday. It was a pretty section. I could see daffodils blooming where old homes once stood. The ford of Boston Run was not too bad but the water was high. I crossed further down stream at a narrower part. Having trekking poles makes fording the streams easier.

The Buckeye Trail goes through the town of Peninsula. It is a small and quaint town. I had lunch at a cafe. There I called my sister Cindy on the phone. She was driving from Detroit to Pittsburgh on the Ohio Turnpike today. Since I was near the turnpike we made plans to rendezvous.

From Peninsula the Buckeye Trail follows the Ohio Erie Canal Towpath Trail.  The towpath trail is flat, wide, dry and scenic. I hiked in a light rain. Along the way you pass the remains of Lock 29 at an aqueduct. You also pass Deep Lock and Johnny Cake Lock. I stopped at Hunt Farm Visitors for the day. By then my sister was five miles away.

Cindy picked me up and we had a cup of coffee and a snack at Starbucks. She dropped me off at the home of my cousin John Spitzer in Stow. I will spend the night with John and Erica and resume hiking tomorrow.

I am looking forward to the rest of the Akron section. There are more good sights to come.

April 10 - Boston

I hiked 23 miles today. It was an exhausting day but it was filled with milestones. Today was my toughest day on the Buckeye Trail yet.

Jim drove me back to the trail around 9:30am. Renie was not with him. Her young nephew had a serious car accident last night and lost an arm. I felt badly for everyone involved.

The first 10 miles were road walking. I took my time enjoying the nice weather and light traffic. After the road walking ended I came to "the turn". The turn, marked by a standard double blue blaze, meant the end of the Great Road Walk from near Toledo to near Akron. In the round numbers the last 180 miles have all been on roads except for about 20 miles. The next 60 miles will be almost entirely off roads. However, literally an figuratively, being off roads did not mean I was on easy street.

I soon came to end of the Medina section. At the end of the Medina section a hiker can head north on the Buckeye Trail to Lake Erie or head south to Akron. This is part of the BT is called the Little Loop. The Little Loop is a loop off the main circuit. It is over 200 miles long. I chose to hike south to Akron. Once I get to the bottom of the Little Loop I will flip-flop back to the intersection and hike north to Lake Erie.

This intersection marked the point where I have completed one-quarter of the Buckeye Trail.

The last 10 miles of the day in Brecksville and Cuyahoga Valley National Park were on trails in the woods It was very strenuous for me. The map says the Buckeye Trail undulates gently in this section. I say it goes straight up and down. No switchbacks, no grades. When the trail wasn't steep it was usually muddy. (I chose to hike the BT in spring so I expect mud.) It is a very beautiful area with a surprisingly remote feel.

The temperature soared to around 80 degrees today. I hiked in shorts and a t-shirt for the first time. The heat and the hills exhausted me. I got thirsty and ran short on water. (The water faucets are still off for the winter.) I decided to drink some creek water, treated of course. I discovered I only had enough Aqua Mira drops to treat a half liter of creek water. But that enough to keep me going.
Later I met a couple with two children near Blue Hen Falls. Without me asking they offered me three bottles of water. It was much appreciated. I am sure I looked a little sunburned and parched.

I made it to the Standford House at 8:30pm. It was already dark. The Standford House is located on an old farm. It is youth hostel and allows camping. They are still closed for the season. My cousin and his fiance, John Spitzer & Erica Shade from Stow, stashed a gallon of water here for me along with a root beer. Three hikers came out of the woods and gave me a quart of Gatorade, a soda pop, and two protein bars. I could finally rehydrate. I drank three liters of liquids in no time.

I set up my tent in the chicken coop turned wood shed. Rain is forecasted for the morning. I will be dry here. I ate supper and went right to bed. I am one tired camper. Life is good on the Buckeye Trail.

Cleveland Hiking Club Field House

Cleveland Hiking Club Field House location where I am camping tonight near Hinckley.

April 9 - Hinckley

Today I hiked 23 miles to Hinckley MetroPark. I felt refreshed and strong from my zero day. I enjoyed my zero with Tom and Sharon. It was what I needed. I was back on the trail around 9:45am.

The first three miles today were on the Lester Rail Trail. Much to my surprise it has a crushed gravel surface and not asphalt. It was a delightful three miles which went by too fast. I met Mick and Bonnie on the path. We chatted a bit and right before we parted Mick asked if he could do something nice for me. He reached in his pocket and pulled out four pieces of chocolate and gave them to me. They were delicious.

The next 15 miles were road walking around Medina. The Buckeye Trail takes is routed around the city. I felt like I was hiking on three sides of a square around Medina. I crossed over I-71 today.

The weather was nice today. The temps hit the mid 50s, a bit of sun and a slight breeze. I am definitely in more rolling terrain. It was a bit more of a work out than usual.

The last four miles were on trails in Hinckley MetroPark. It was nice to be hiking in woods again. The park is pretty. It was great to see people in the park. I saw a lady on a horse, a guy in a kayak, rock climbers, joggers, bicyclists and walkers. Some of the walkers appeared to be afraid of me. The steep climb up Whipps Ledges was tougher than I expected.

Just above Whipps Ledges I hit the high point on the Buckeye Trail. The highest point is 1,290 feet above sea level. This may not seem high but it is higher than some points on the Appalachian Trail.

I am camping on the back porch of a building owned by the Cleveland Hiking Club. It is a neat place but everything is still closed for winter. No problem because all I need is a place to set up my tent.

Jim and Renie picked me up after my hike and brought me here. Tomorrow they take me back to the trail. They brought me a gallon of water since the water is turned off here. We stopped by a tavern where I got some food and beverage to go for supper. I am having a small, one person, party here listening to the frogs peep.

I have just seen my first mosquito of the year. Be careful what you wish for. I have been wishing for spring and came today. So have the bugs.

Crossing I-71

I am crossing to the east of I-71 now near Medina. I have a confirmed place to camp tonight near Hinckley. Now I just need to lay down the rest of today's miles.

April 8 - Zero Day

I am taking a zero day today. The conditions are right for a zero. The weather is cool & rainy, my feet have blisters and I am invited to spend another night at the home of Tom and Sharon Farmer.

In my previous post I mentioned I met Tom and Sharon in college at Bowling Green State University. The Delta Upsilon fraternity brought us together. When I was a freshman I debated whether to join a fraternity and in particular join Delta Upsilon. The older brothers said the benefits of joining a fraternity extended beyond the college years. They sure were right. At the time I thought joining a fraternity was about drinking beer and meeting girls. Of course we did our fair share of that but the real benefits of being a DU have been the many friendships I had made which have lasted decades.

I have not done much on my zero day. I drove downtown Berea and ran a few errands. I caught up on emails and photos. I am making a few phone calls for possible camping locations in the next few days.

The weather forecast is showing better weather for the next few days. I am excited. I won't know how to behave when the sun comes out and warm weather gets here. I have not seen or heard anyone cutting their grass yet. I haven't seen any farmers in their fields. I have only seen a few people out walking and jogging.

Many thanks to Sharon for making my stay here in Berea a comfortable one.

Day 20 Recap

I have been out hiking on the Buckeye Trail for 20 days. Here is a recap:

I have hiked 324 miles.

I have hiked on 17 days and taken 3 zero days.

Most of the miles has been on hard surfaces (roads, bike paths, sidewalks, etc)

I have slept in my tent 4 times. Three of those times were in/under some sort of structure.

I have stayed in motels 3 nights, a camper cabin 1 night. There rest were in the homes of friends and family.

All of my drinking water has come a faucet.

I have cooked one backpacking supper. All other evening meals were in homes, restaurants or cold food.

I have seen a variety of Ohio wildlife including deer, turkeys, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs, chipmunks and lots of birds.

I have seen a lot of road kill including the animals above plus possums, a mole and a frog.

Twice I have temporarily strayed off the Buckeye Trail. Both times were my error for not paying closer attention to the maps and trail description.

I have not hitchhiked yet.

I have not had any encounters with law enforcement officials.

I have not had any close calls with traffic while walking on roads.

I have not skipped any sections of the Buckeye Trail. I adhere to the "Continuous Footsteps" doctrine (Anslinger, 2003)

The weather has mostly been unseasonable cold. I have hiked in wind, rain and snow flurries. On most days the sun has not been out.

I am wishing for warm weather and spring to arrive. So is everyone else I have talked to.

I have had only positive and wonderful encounters with the people whom I have met.

I am still having fun and plan to continue hiking!

April 7 - Lester

I hiked 22 miles today to the Lester Rail Trailhead parking lot. All of the miles but one were on roads today.

Findley State Park was deserted this morning like last night. A park maintenance worker drove through the parking lot this morning. He either didn't see me or didn't care that camped under the picnic shelter.

The road walking and new padded insoles are taking their toll on my feet. I developed several new blisters. None of the new blisters are bad or too painful. I think they are the result of changing my shoe insole configuration. I have gotten far more blisters on this hike than I did on my 500 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail last summer.

I used my trekking poles today. For the last several days I had them strapped to my pack since the trail was all road walking. It was good to use them again. They give my arms something to do and help me keep a rhythm and cadence to my stride. They also come in handy when mean dogs run out of the road to greet me.

The area I hiked through today had lots of ponds and oil wells. I was surprised by the number of homes that had small ponds. I passed by dozens of them. Some of the ponds were quite pretty and inviting. Most had "no trespassing" signs. There must be some unique geology and hydrology to this area which makes these ponds possible.

A number of oils wells dotted the landscape. I didn't realize this part of Ohio has or had oil. Some of the oils pumps looked rusty and abandoned. Others looked new and shiny. None of them were pumping oil that I could see. Near each pump was a series of storage tanks to hold the accumulated crude oil.

I am starting to see a change in the topography. There are now gentle hills and slopes instead of wide open, flat land. This makes for more interesting hiking but also makes the road walking more dangerous. The drivers of cars coming over these hills can't see me until they are upon me. Drivers are reluctant to move over into the other lane when approaching me when they can't see over the hills.

A road construction worker warned me to be wary of traffic when school lets out. He said this is when lots of teenage drivers are on the roads who like to drive fast on their way home. He is right. It seems the youngest drivers are the least likely to move over for a pedestrian. If I get whacked by a car it will likely be driven by a young, female driver talking on cell phone.

After the end of my hike I was picked up by Sharon Farmer. I am spending the night in Berea at the home of Tom and Sharon Farmer. I went to college with Tom and Sharon at Bowling Green State University. Tom is a Delta Upsilon fraternity brother. Sharon was a member of our Little Sister program. Through Facebook we reconnected a few years ago and now remain in contact.

Findley State Park Map Link

Findley State Park Map Link:


April 6 - Findley State Park

Today I walked 19 miles to Findley State Park. I am camping here for the night. So far I have hiked a little over 300 miles on this journey.

I stayed in the camper cabin this morning until almost 1:00pm while I listened to rain and blowing wind. I was in no hurry to leave my warm and dry accommodations. I enjoyed two cups of Starbucks instant coffee and a package of chicken noodle soup.

The rain and wind let up so I hit the trail. The route today was 18 miles on roads and one mile in the woods. I hiked due east all day. I took a short break in a cemetery and another short break near Rochester. It did not rain at all during my hike today.

I have completed the Norwalk section and started the Medina section of the Buckeye Trail. The Norwalk section was 59 miles of all road walking. I am glad to be done with it. The Medina section has a bit of road walking but it weaves through various parks. I am now on map 7. I am getting tired of walking all day on roads.

When I arrived at Findley State Park campground at 7:00pm it was pretty empty. I asked a couple who where finishing up a hike if they knew where I could get water. They said the nearest operating water faucet was two miles away. The water faucets in the campground are still turned off for the winter. They could sense my disappointment and gave me a ride to the water and back. It was much appreciated.

Before I started this hike I thought Findley State Park was near the city of Findlay. Not true.

I opted to set up my tent under the new picnic shelter. It is quite nice. More rain is coming tonight. I will be sheltered here.

Indian Creek Campground Location

Link to map to Indian Creek Campground:


April 5 - Indian Creek Campground

I hiked 21 miles today. Bill dropped me off at 10:30am at the farm I sought refuge at just a day earlier. What a difference a day makes.

The route today was entirely on roads. There was not much meandering and I pretty much kept a steady due east course. This was good since the brisk 20 mph wind was out of the west. This meant the wind was at my back all day.

The temps were in the mid 40s but it felt much colder than that. I was bundled up all day.

Part of the route today was on Military Road. Military Road was used during the War Of 1812 to move troops and supplies between Wooster and Fremont. The Ohio Historical Society erected a nice plaque in a glacial boulder along the route.

It snowed in Havana today. How do I know? I was there. Havana is a tiny town with a tavern as the only business. There was no sign marking it and I would have passed it up if I had not been told it was there.

The tavern is small and serves good food but they don't believe in the Ohio law prohibiting indoor smoking. I had a light lunch there. The waitress asked if I was bicycling. I said no and replied that I am hiking. She asked where I came from. I said I came from Dayton. She asked if I hiked from Dayton today. I politely said no and told her I have been hiking since March 20.

The long road walking started to wear on me today. Miles 17-21 were not fun. A farm dog ran out on the road, barked and acted mean to me. I acted equally mean back to it and that scared him off.

The last mile along US-250 was brutal and dangerous. Lots of semis, a narrow shoulder and a steep ditch. My only consolation today was knowing that soon the Buckeye Trail would have a new, off-road, route in this section.

Good news: My new cushioned insoles for my shoes seem to be working. Much less foot pain today.

I am spending the night at Indian Creek Campground in a rustic camper cabin. The campground is small and compact. The camper cabin looks like a large playhouse for a child. You have to duck to get in. But it has a heater and I am out of the wind. It is nicer than my tent.

Tomorrow's destination: Findley State Park

April 4 - Reedtown

Like my previous post said I hiked six miles today and almost made it to Reedtown. Bill "Shoebox" Beier picked me up from the barn around 2:45pm.

Bill took me to Dick's Sporting Goods where I purchased a new pair of socks. I have already worn out a pair of socks. I also picked up a padded insole for my hiking shoes. Hopefully this will alleviate some of my foot pain on the road walking. I am a big fan of my SuperFeet insoles but I wonder if they maybe aren't good for hard surface walking.

Next we went Hammer Huber where I purchased a fluorescent lime green short sleeve shirt. This shirt will come in handy for the road walking if/when it warms up to where I can wear a short sleeve shirt. Next we went to Starbucks where I loaded up on Starbucks instant coffee.

Our final stop was to a grocery store where I resupplied on granola bars, fruit bars, oatmeal bars and nutrition bars.

I spent the night at Bill's house in Norwalk. It was great to be inside. It rained all day and remained windy. I enjoyed a nice meal with Bill and his family. They made me feel right at home. Many thanks to Bill for bringing in this stranger from the rain and making him feel welcome.

Wind, Rain and Lightning

I am in a farmer's barn dodging the wind, rain and lightning. I hiked six miles today before calling it quits. I'll take a "nero" (near zero day). The winds are sustained at 25mph. The rain is heavy and it feels like pebbles pelting me. But it is the lightning and thunder that shut down this hike today. I feel like a golfer all alone on a golf course in an electrical storm. I am the tallest thing around at times in the farm fields.

I am waiting to be picked up by trail angel Bill "Shoebox" Beier from Norwalk. He is hosting me for the night. We have never met but he is willing to help me.

So my six miles today was either respectable or idiotic. I don't know which.

April 3 - Lowell

Today I hiked 26 miles in a bit over eight hours and did a "12x12". The taxi dropped me off at 8:30am about four miles east of SR-19 and SR-101 at map point 11. I walked back to the motel.

The hike today was all on roads and sidewalks except for a couple of miles in Wolf Creek Park along the Sandusky River. The soil footpath walking was a welcome relief. So were the two short sections of gravel road hiking. My feet started hurting about two hours into the hike and hurt the rest of the day. This is depressing me. I was hoping to have this behind me by now.

The morning was beautiful. It was sunny and crisp. Frost covered the farm fields. It soon became cloudy and windy and showers moved in about noon. I dashed behind a barn to get out of the rain and put my rain gear on. By the time I got geared up for the rain it had passed.

I crossed over a pretty creek called Beaver Creek. It was formerly called Green Creek. The water was green. Being a caver I know this from the limestone bedrock in the area. There is a town nearby called Green Spring which we drove through in the morning. Green Springs is home to the world's largest natural sulfur spring. The creek I crossed originates from the spring.

The route today went through Fremont and past the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. Hayes is from Ohio but was not born in Fremont. He practiced law here. His middle name is Birchard. A city park and street are named this.

I am now on map 6 of the 26 maps which cover the Buckeye Trail. The maps are not numbered by the Buckeye Trail Association but I added my own numbers. I am in the Norwalk section.

Even the road walking portions of the Buckeye Trail meander. This is done to keep the hiker on the least travelled roads. To give you an idea of the meander factor the taxi ride was 21 miles. The hike back was 26 miles.

Correction to yesterday's post: There are two campgrounds in this section. I passed two of them today.

April 2 - Zero Day

Today I "took a zero" as we say in hiker lingo. Taking a zero means hiking zero miles or taking the day off.

The proprietor of the Old Orchard Motel dropped me off at the libray in downtown Fremont this morning. I used a computer there for two hours catching up on emails and uploading photos.

The city center of Fremont seemed awefully quiet for a Saturday.

Afterwards I enjoyed a cup of coffee at Davinci's coffee shop. I took a taxi back to the motel and took a nap.

A brief rain stormed moved in this afternoon. After it moved out it left a beautiful rainbow behind for a few minutes.

This evening I found myself watching Lawrence Welk reruns on TV. My father always watched Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights. As a kid I thought it was the dumbest show ever. Now it does not seem so bad. It reminds me of old times.

I have a plan for tomorrow. I am taking a taxi in the morning to a place about 25 trail miles away. I will walk back to the motel on the Buckeye Trail and spend another night here.

The next 100 or so miles are all road walking except for a few miles in Findley State Park. There are no campsites for 70 miles. The word is that by this time next year the Buckeye Trail will be relocated off this long road walk and moved on the North Coast Inland Trail bike path. For now this road walk is the official route.

It is getting close to Hiker's Midnight and bedtime for me. Time to end this entry. (Hiker's Midnight is 9:00pm)

Defiance Newspaper Article

The Defiance Crescent News published an article about my Buckeye Trail hike in their March 29, 2011 newspaper. You can read the article here:

April 1 - Fremont

I hiked 21 miles to the outskirts of Fremont. I slept until 8:30am today. I guess I was tired. It was a good night of sleep except for the occasional CSX train which came through town.

Pemberville continued its trail magic. A fellow picked up my tab at breakfast this morning at the local diner. He was impressed with my journey and wanted to help. I stopped by the post office to mail home a few things I was carrying I did not need. The postmistress was very helpful too.

The route today was entirely on pavement. The first 10 miles to Elmore was on roads. The route was scenic as it generally followed the Portage River. Traffic was light but there were a few curves and hills which made me nervous from a safety point of view. When hiking on roads I wear an orange vest and have an orange pack cover. Even so I am wary of oncoming traffic and get way off the road when in doubt.

The second part of the hike was on the North Coast Inland Trail which is a rails to trail path. I mistakenly thought this section was on gravel, based on my old map, but it was paved. Nevertheless it was an enjoyable stretch. My feet still hurt from all the pavement walking but it was very scenic.

The NCIT went right through the middle of Lindsay. Lindsay is a small town. A college friend of mine, Joe Gillis, is from Lindsay. It was neat to hike through his town.

For the first time on this hike I listened to music. Since I was hiking on a bike path, and not roads, I knew it would be safe. When Louis Armstrong's song "What A Wonderful World" played tears came to my eye. For a few minutes my feet did not hurt and my backpack weighed nothing. I was on top of the world.

I am really enjoying my hike on the Buckeye Trail. We should be thankful that we have such a neat trail in our state. I thought I knew what the Buckeye Trail was about before I started my hike. Boy, was I wrong! The Buckeye Trail is so much more than I expected. It is so much more than just blue blazes leading the way.

I arrived in Fremont around dark. I am staying at the Old Orchard Motel for two nights. Tomorrow I am taking a zero. After 10 consecutive days of hiking I need a break.

The Old Orchard Motel is a delightful mom & pop place. The motel pre-dates the interstate system and is located on old US-20. The rooms are clean, cozy and inexpensive. They did a load of laundry for me at no charge.