|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.