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