At Serpent Mound

Serpent Mound

Tuesday, May 31.

I am at Serpent Mound. Serpent Mound was built by the Native Americans. It is the largest serpent effigy in the United States. It was a sacred place for the Native Americans and served as a solar and lunar calendar.

The mythical Ninja warrior believed that only after you have endured great hardships can you derive powers from the earth. I have endured great hardships on this hike lately. I hope to derive powers from this ancient earthen serpent.

Map Location:

May 30 - Fort Hill

Unmaintained trail in Sinking Spring section.

Today I hiked 14 miles to Fort Hill State Memorial. Put an asterik next to today's miles as I had to bypass some sections. Today was probably the worst day I've had on the Buckeye Trail.

The day started out quite nice. I had a pleasant morning with Mike and Connie. They are great people. They hosted me for four nights. They drove me around so I could slackpack. They gave me a bed to sleep in, fed me, allowed me to use their computer, shower and laundry. They asked for nothing in return. Connie packed me a lunch each day. They are very kind people and anyone who is hosted by them is very lucky.

I got word that my mother and her husband will meet up with me in a few days. They will stay at Shawnee State Park and help me slackpack a few days. I mailed a box of food and gear to Shawnee to lighten my load.

Connie and Mike dropped me off at 11:30am. Right from the start the trail was in bad shape. To me this section of trail appeared abandoned. The weeds were high, the footpath was faint, blazes were few and limbs covered the trail. Someone had selectively logged a few trees and left the tops to cover the trail. Plus there was an assortment of fallen trees covering the trail.

I wandered off the trail and got lost several times. I had to backtrack. The trail would make tricky turns off the establised footpath. The turns would be covered in weeds and I would miss them. Many blazes were faded or obscure. Navigating the fallen trees was hard and dangerous.

My spirit finally broke. Hiking the trail in this condition was too tough on me. I realized that I wasn't hiking the trail. I was fighting the trail instead. I came to the Buckeye Trail to hike it not fight it. The trail had been in bad condition for the last week.

I sat down on a high knoll and got out my smartphone. In frustration I wrote an email to the Buckeye Trail Association executive director, board president, state trail coordinator and a few trustees. I explained how poorly maintained the trail was and pleaded action. They need to know how bad the trail had gotten. I am just one of a series of hikers who hike on the Buckeye Trail in southern Ohio and encounter these conditions. Some hikers quit in frustration and never come back.

I resumed hiking and things got worse. I missed a turn and ended up at an Amish Farm. I could tell it was an Amish Farm because it had the biggest clothes line full of clothes I had ever seen. An Amish lady was outside holding a baby. I asked for directions. She told me to backtrack which I did. I found the turn I missed. I had seen it before and figured it was not the correct turn.

I came to a spot where the blue blazes went in two directions. A faded sign by a logging company said the trail was rerouted in this area. I chose the wrong set of blazes and got lost. I backtracked and followed the second set. The trail disappeared into the woods. Whomever blazed this route spaced out the blazes too far. I got lost a few more times. To me this part of the trail looked abandoned.

I finally got to a road. I was whipped physically and mentally. It took almost four hours to go three miles. I was so disappointed.

I decided to walk to Fort Hill on roads instead of taking trails. There was no way I was going back into the woods on this section. The route by road was slightly longer than by trail but it was easier. My head was spinning from what I had just come through.

I got to Fort Hill and took a break under the picnic shelter. It was shaded, cool and breezy there. It felt good to take a break from the 90 temperatures. After the break I decided to hike a few more miles. But after going about a quarter of a mile and feeling the heat and I humidity I decided to turn back to the picnic shelter and camp there. I set up my tent under the picnic shelter. There was a stream nearby for water, restrooms, picnic tables and trash cans. Nobody bothered me there.

I felt sadness for the Buckeye Trail, the Buckeye Trail Association and Buckeye Trail hikers. Nobody wins when the trail is like this. There has got to be a solution for this.

May 29 - Pike State Forest - 334 Miles To Dayton!

Fallen trees over trail in Pike State Forest
Today I hiked 18 miles. I have hiked over 1,100 miles on this journey. I am in the Sinking Springs section. I am on map 21 of 26. As the crow flies I am about 60-70 miles from home. By trail I have 334 miles to go.

Today was another day of slackpacking. Mike and Connie invited me to stay another night at their house. I accepted their offer. The temperatures reached above 90 degrees today. It was a hot day to be hiking.

All of the hiking was was in Pike State Forest. The trail was under maintained and weeds covered the trail in many places. I got lost and wandered off the Buckeye Trail several times today. It was tough going. The good news is that the trail graded in most places. This meant there were not many steep climbs. It was a real pretty stretch of trail. It just has not been maintained in a while.

If I was a song writer I would write a ballad about fallen trees over the Buckeye Trail. The song would be a sad song sung in exasperation. Like the coal miner from years ago who worked all day to mine coal. No matter how hard he worked there was still more coal to be mined the next day. No matter how many fallen down trees I hike through, over or around in a day there are still more waiting for me tomorrow. I would call the song the "BT Blowdown Blues".

Note: Winter and spring have brought unusually harsh weather in Ohio. The fierce storms have caused many trees to fall down. Many have fallen over the Buckeye Trail. The number of fallen trees on the trail is much higher than normal.

I am in the hardest part of my hike right now. The most difficult part, physically and mentally, is ahead of me not behind me. It would be easy to assume that after 1,110 miles that hiking is easy now. This is not the case. A long distance hiker knows that the home stretch can be quite tough. I am close enough to home that I can almost feel it but there are still many more miles to hike. It is important for me to stay focused on hiking and not get distracted on thoughts of home or life after the trail.

Today I pulled four ticks off me. Yesterday I pulled off three.

Connie and Mike picked me up shortly before 8:00pm near SR-124. They drove me back to their house.

May 28 - Nipgen

Mike and Connie Synder

Today I hiked 26 miles. It was another day of slackpacking which meant I was not carrying a full load in my pack. It felt good to do a high mileage day.

The trail in Scioto State Forest started out very nice. The trail was well maintained, easy to follow and graded. I could move along at a fast but relaxing pace. After about three miles of this the character of the trail changed. The Buckeye Trail joined horse trails and the trail started going straight up and down the ridges. This made for hard hiking. The trails were muddy in many places. The frequent ups and downs can really tire you out.

I did not see another hiker in the Scioto State Forest today. I was surprised that I did not see at least a day hiker. After all the weather was nice and it was a holiday weekend. I think there is a disconnect between what the trails here offer and what the hiker is looking far. Nobody wants trails that go up and down constantly.

I crossed to the west of US-23 today. I think this means I am officially back in southwest Ohio. It felt good to be in the corner of Ohio that I call home. After crossing US-23 the trail went on private property. It went through a short stretch of high grass, through a rusty gate and through a pile of abandoned construction materials. I thought this stretch of hiking would be rough. But to my to my surprise I saw Jeff Yost standing down by the creek. Jeff is a trail maintainer from Columbus. He was there working on the trail. Jeff had weed whacked the trail ahead of me and was getting ready to paint some blue blazes. We stopped and chatted a bit. I asked Jeff to paint a small blue blaze on my hat which he did.

From here on for the rest of the day the trail went on back roads. It was quite a relief to be hiking on roads again. It made for much faster and easier hiking.

I was running low on water. The map showed I would pass Mapleberry Farm in a couple of miles. I called ahead to see if I could stop for some water. Nobody answered so I left a message. Nobody was home when I got there. I left one of my Buckeye Trail cards in the door and moved on. About 30 minutes later a man in a car drives up and waves my Buckeye Trail. It was Gail Rickey of Mapleberry Farm. He had gotten my home, listened to my message and came out to find me. He brought a quart of ice water for me! The cold water tasted great on this hot day. I stood by the side of the road and chatted with Gale. He lets hikers camp on his farm. His farm produces maple syrup.

At 7:30pm I arrived in the small town of Nipgen on SR-772. Mike and Connie picked me up. We went to dinner in Bainbridge and then went back to their house. On the way home we toured Pike county and Chillicothe. Both Mike and Connie were born and raised here. This is the third and final night I will stay with Mike and Connie.

Entering Southwest Ohio

As of 2:25pm on May 28.

I just left Scioto State Forest. I am taking a break at Shelly's Nursery on US-23. Once I cross US-23 I will enter southwest Ohio!

Wilbur and Orville here I come!

Map Link:

May 27 - Scioto State Forest

Trail is meadow near Lickskillet.

Today I hiked 19 from Tar Hollow State Forest to Scioto State Forest. Mike and Connie helped me slackpack today.

They dropped me off at Tar Hollow at 9:00am. The trail started out on a horse trail which it was muddy. My boots and pants legs got muddy real quick. I had a few fallen down trees to navigate in this section as well as a few obscure trail markers.

Next I was on gravel forest roads for a couple of miles. Then it was back on the woods on a Jeep trail. The Jeep trail was nice hiking. It was wide, dry, no fallen trees and easy to follow. The trail followed the ridge which meant only a few mild ups and downs.

The area at the end of the Jeep trail, near Blue Lick Road, had been clear cut recently. The loggers removed all the trees except for the ones with the blue blazes marking the Buckeye Trail. The loggers either knew what the blue blazes meant or mistakenly thought the blue marks meant the trees should be saved. It was odd to walk through a clear cut area and to see the only standing trees having blue blazes on them.

The walk down Blue Lick Road was nice. The trail leaves the road and goes up the driveway of Monk Detters. Monk has allowed the Buckeye Trail to go on his land. Monk's yard is decorated with little gnome statues. After his house it was a steep climb back up to the ridge. It was nice hiking on the ridge.
As the trail descended the ridge it went through a beautiful grown up meadow with lots of wild flowers. It was so pretty it looked like a scene from a movie. I could just imagine a man and a lady running towards each other in slow motion is this meadow.

I stopped for lunch at Granny's Restaurant where the trail crosses US-50. I had been to Granny's a few times before. Poppie made me promise that I would stop there on my hike. This was an easy promise to keep. I asked the waitress if many hikers stop in. She said no and that I was the first hiker they ever had. I find this hard to believe.

As I walked on the road after lunch a young fellow in a Jeep stopped and asked if I was hiking the Buckeye Trail.  I said yes. He offered to drive me down the road to where the trail enters the woods. I declined but thanked him.

I crossed to the west of US-35. The trail goes inder US-35 in a large tunnel. The tunnel was put in for Buckeye Trail hikers when the new section of US-35 was built several years ago. The tunnel is at the large road cut near Richmond Dale. This was the last four lane section of US-35 opened between Washington Court House and West Virginia.

After US-35 there was more clear cutting of timber. Once again the only trees left standing had blue blazes on them.

I crossed over the Scioto River and entered Scioto State Forest. During World War I this area was used as a Army artillery range for Camp Sherman. My grandfather, who I am named after, was stationed at Camp Sherman during World War I. The story told in our family is that grandpa was good at working with horses. When a stable hand died of an epidemic at Camp Sherman my grandfather took his position. This kept my grandfather from being shipped overseas to fight in the war.

At 6:15pm I arrived a designated spot in the state forest. Mike and Connie arrived and picked me up. We went out to dinner in Piketon and made a quick trip to Wal-Mart for me to resupply. Then it was off to bed.

May 26 - Tar Hollow

Tar Hollow fire tower.

Today I hiked 16 miles to Tar Hollow State Park.

It rained last night but I managed to stay dry. That is until I started hiking. The tall grass and weeds were still wet from the rain.

I quickly got soaked from the knees down. This is pretty much happens every day. It is impossible to keep my boot dry.

After about a mile of hiking I came across Byron Guy. He was camped out on the Pretty Run property but at a different place than me. He had the replacement parts for my Black Diamond trekking poles. My poles are as good as new now. We chatted a bit in the morning sun and ate a couple of day old McDonald's chicken sandwiches. Byron's is going to spend the day doing trail maintenance on the Pretty Run property.

The trail today was interesting. Twice the trail was on abandoned township roads. The roads went through a hollow and up and over a ridge. It was quite a treat to hike on these old roads. At the start of the hollow you would see houses and barns. But as the road climbed up and got narrow and steep the building disappeared. Nobody wanted to live this far up the hollow. Towards the top of the ridge the road got very steep and rutted. There is no way a car could drive on these roads. At the top I felt like I was summiting a mountain. At the summit there were a few ATV roads. Then the road headed back down the other side. Things reversed. It was steep and narrow at first but as I approached the bottom I would starting seeing houses and farms again. The top of one of the ridges was bare from clear cut logging.

I took a short break at the Tar Hollow State Forest maintenance area. It was deserted. They must have closed their operations or moved them elsewhere as nobody was there. All I saw were empty buildings. I plopped down in front of one of the buildings and made a cup of coffee. I wondered what this place was like when it was humming with activity.

The hike through Tar Hollow State Forest and Tar Hollow State Park as nice. The trail was mostly clear and easy to follow. There were some overgrown weeds and fallen trees but not too bad. The first leg of the journey was all up hill until I reached the fire tower. I climbed to the top of the fire tower but the views weren't that good. The surrounding trees had grown so tall it blocked most of the views. I got real good cell phone reception at the top of the tower.

Around 6:00pm I was met by Connie (Myers) Snyder. She drove me to her house in Richmond Dale. Connie and Mike Snyder have been hosting hikers for years. They are very nice and helpful people. Connie first learned about hikers when she was postmaster in Londonderry. Hikers would mail packages to her post office and she would get acquainted with them. Now they host just about every long distance hiker or cyclist who comes through on the Buckeye Trail or American Discovery Trail. They have a scrap book full of photos, articles and letters from the hikers they have hosted over the past ten years. At their house I got
a much needed shower, laundry, home cooked meal and a bed to sleep in.I was pretty tired by the end of the day.

May 26 - Pretty Run

Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills State Park.

Today I hiked 20 miles to the Pretty Run property in Vinton County owned by the Buckeye Trail Association.

Hiking in hiker's heaven soon turned to hikers reality. That fine stretch of easy hiking in Hocking State Forest came to an end. After a couple of miles of easy road walking I came to the Climbers Parking Area in Hocking State Forest where I entered to woods again. The hike up to the cliff line and along the cliff line was scenic. Lots of sandstone boulders, caves and cliffs. However the footpath was for both horses and hikers. Whenever a footpath is shared by horses and hikers the hikers usually get the losing end of the deal. The trail was doubly muddy from all the hoof prints. Every hoof print makes an indentation which becomes a small puddle. The small puddles make one long stretch of muddy trail.

I finally arrived at Hocking Hills State Park. It was great to be at this place I had visited so many times before. This park is the gem in the State of Ohio Park system.

The trail goes above Upper Fallls where there is a monument to Emma Gatewood. Emma Gatewood, also known as Grandma Gatewood, is from Ohio. She hiked the entire Appalachian Trail three times starting at the age of 67 after raising a large number of children. She is credited with the first female solo hike of the AT. Grandma Gatewood is a legend in hiking circles. This stretch of the trail is named in her honor.
I met Nelson Gatewood, one of Grandma Gatewood's children, by chance on the AT. I was hiking at Clingmans Dome in the Smokies. He approached me and started chatting. He explained he was from Ohio and his mother had hiked the AT several times. I got very curious and asked if his mother had a trail name. He replied "Yes, Grandma Gatewood."

After checking out the Upper Falls I went to the snack bar and had a cheese burger, fries and ice cream. I chose Buckeye as the flavor of ice cream. Buckeye is peanut butter and chocolate much like the buckeye candy. It was very good.

I visited Old Mans Cave, Lower Falls, Cedar Falls and Ash Cave. I chatted with several people along the way and handed out a few of my cards. I met once nice young lady, Tracy, from Worthington. It turns out we have a friend in common, Douglas Waggoner of Green Earth Outdoors, from Louisville.

I took a short coffee break at Ash Cave. I had the whole cave to myself. I listened to the sound of the waterfall, soaked in the scenery and had some Starbucks instant coffee.

By now it was 6pm and I still had eight miles to go of mostly road walking. I pounded out the miles in the next two and a half hours. I arrived at the Rice cabin and Pretty Run property and set up camp. Byron Guy is supposed to meet me here with my trekking pole replacement parts. He did not show or I am in the wrong place.  We will sort this out tomorrow.

May 24 - Hocking State Forest

Camp site in Hocking State Forest.

Today I hiked 16 miles to the Hocking State Forest. I crossed the 1,000 mile mark on this hike. I am in the Old Mans Cave section of the Buckeye Trail.

I spent the last two nights in the Harrop House in Shawnee. The Harrop House is over 120 years old. I kept thinking I would see a ghost at night but I didn't. How often do you get a chance to spend a night alone in such an old and creaky place?

I got a late start today. I spent a lot of time on the computer this morning answering emails.

I finally got word that the folks at Black Diamond had sent me replacement parts for my broken pole. They are sending the parts at no charge via overnight delivery. They did this just on my word and I don't have to return the broken pieces. This is very nice of them. It took me several phone calls and several emails to accomplish this though. The parts will arrive after I have left town but I have a plan to get them.

Rocky dropped me off on the trail at 11:30am. We stopped at the post office along the way so I could mail home some clothes. But the post office was closed for lunch. Rocky will mail the items for me. I am sending home a fleece shirt, long sleeve shirt and a winter hat.

I came to a camsite a couple of miles into the hike. It looks like Byron and Jamie Guy (trail maintainers) had been there just recently. They cut a path through the grass for me and cleared an area for tenting. At the campsite was a bottle of malted adult beverage for me. Unfortunately I did not camp there as I had miles to go.

I crossed to the west of US-33 today. This marked the 1,000 mile point for me. In terms of time and miles this is the longest hike I have been on.

The miles came slow today as I was a bit tired. I stopped at Lake Logan campground and made a cup of coffee. It helped a bit.

After Lake Logan the trail enters the woods for a short stretch. As usual the woods were wet and muddy. Somebody had painted over some of the blue blazes with purple paint. This made navigation a bit confusing. The purple painters did not notice that the blue blazes were on both sides of the tree. They only covered the blazes on one side of the tree. Once I figured this out it made navigation easier.

I had a long and scenic hike up Wildcat Hollow Road. For a small and windy  road it had a lot of traffic. I started noticing sandstone outcroppings and hemlock trees. It was very pretty. I knew I was getting close to Hocking Hills.

The trail left the road for a short section in the woods. It was tough going in this section. For a short section it had lots of downed trees and limbs. The trail markers were faded but I could follow them. As usual the trail was wet and muddy.

A bit later I entered Hocking State Forest. I noticed an immediate change which I could not believe. The trail was wide, not muddy, not weedy, easy to follow, and no downed trees. The trail followed the contour of the land instead of going up and down. The trees in the forest were hemlocks and there was very little underbrush. The trail followed a streaam. I felt like I had died and gone to hiker heaven. I could hike with ease, relax and day dream. My mind could wander while my body did the hiking on autopilot. I had forgotten how enjoyable this kind of hiking was. This is what hiking was meant to be!

Around 7:00pm I found a nice campsite near a stream and a small waterfall. I had hoped to hike farther but the campsite was too pretty to pass up. It is a fine site. I have the woods all to myself tonight.
Tomorrow I hike through Old Mans Cave.

May 23 - Logan - 450 Miles To Dayton

Bruce "Poppie" Purdy

Today I hiked 22 miles. Bruce "Poppie" Purdy joined me. I met Bruce at the Buckeye Trail Association Annual Meeting this past weekend. He drove from Columbus to hike with me today. Poppie is hiking the entire Buckeye Trail in sections. He leads the circuit hikes for the BTA.

The weather has been quite odd to say the least. It stormed again this morning but it was clear by 11:00am. Poppie and I decided to hike from Logan back to Shawnee. This way we would hike on roads for the first part of the day and in the woods the second part. Our feet would be dryer this way. Also  I could spend another night in Shawnee.

We were on the trail by 11:30am. The road walking went by fast. We took a couple of short breaks. There was not much vehicle traffic. Poppie carries Buckeye Trail brochures with him. He handed out these brochures along the way to the people we met. This was a nice touch.

I finally got a hold of a person at Black Diamond in the warranty/repair department. Earlier I had left two voice mails and one email trying to get my trekking poles repaired or replaced. I think they will be able to help me out. Stay tuned.

The last ten miles of the hike were on trails in the woods in the Wayne National Forest. The first part was on horse trails. It was well marked and easy to follow. The trail was quite muddy but this is to be expected.

After the horse trails we got lost twice. Both times were when the trail intersected forest roads. The blue blazes, if they were there, were not visible. Both times were frustrating experiences. Between Poppie and I we have almost 2,000 miles of Buckeye Trail hiking experience. We know how to follow the trail, we know how to read maps and we know what to look for. But we ended up making wrong turns.

The second time we got lost we got separated. Poppie found the trail again by walking down a township road. I found the trail again by using Google Maps on my phone and back tracking. He called me, we met back up and continued hiking. Thank goodness for cell phones, Google Maps and cell coverage.

This is the last of my hiking in the Wayne National Forest on the Buckeye Trail. Unfortunately my first and last impressions of the trail in the Wayne National Forest are not that great. 

Poppie got a shuttle from Rocky Myers back to his car at 8:30pm. I continued hiking to Shawnee with the last of the remaining daylight. I made a side trip to the Marathon convenience store and got food for the night. I arrived back at the Harrop House at 9:30pm just before another bad storm hit.

It was a long day. I ate supper,  took a shower and went to bed.

May 22 - Shawnee

Turtle taking a nap on Salem Road..

I left the BTA Annual Meeting at 10:30am today. Andrew, Claudia, Adelaide and I stopped for breakfast at Bob Evans in Zanesville on  the way back. By 2:30pm I was in Murray City and back on the Buckeye Trail. I hiked 9 miles today to Shawnee.

This morning I discovered one my of Black Diamond trekking poles was broken. This is bad news as I need these trekking poles to continue on my journey. They have served me well. Debbie Zampini lent me her pair of Leki poles as a replacement. My plan is to contact Black Diamond in the morning and see about getting these poles fixed or replaced.

The hike went by fast. The first half was on back roads which was easy walking. Byron and Jamie Guy met me on Salem Road and asked if I needed anything. The two brother were on their way home from the BTA Annual Meeting too and stumbled across me. Byron and Jamie are section supervisors for the Old Man's Cave section of the Buckeye Trail. They are great guys and a wealth of information on the area.

The rest of the hike was in the woods in the Wayne National Forest. The trail was well marked and in good shape. There were a few downed limbs and only one problem tree over the trail. It was enjoyable hiking. It felt good to be in the shade of the trees. Some ATVs are using the trail regularly. I am not a fan of ATVs on hiking trails but they are doing a good job of keep the trail packed down without doing major damage.

At Tecumseh Lake I took a side trail into the town of Shawnee. Shawnee is a former coal mining town. Don't confuse this town with Shawnee State Park or Shawnee State Forest as these places are near Portsmouth.

Shawnee is a town that has not seen economic prosperity in decades. It has a ghost town like feel. Buildings on the main street are empty and decaying. Shawnee was a booming coal town in the late 1800's and early 1900's when the whole Hocking Valley was humming with coal mining activity. The industrial revolution in the United States was in full swing then. Coal was needed to power the factories. When the coal was gone prosperity left town. Today less than 600 people live here.

An historical marker on the edge of town says this area is the birthplace of the Knights Of Labor movement. The Knights Of Labor movement was a precursor to the forming United Mine Workers union. There are still fires burning deep in the coal mines deep here. The fires were set by angry coal miners in retallation to actions by mine owners. There is no visible smoke or odors from the fire that I can see.

I am spending the night in Harrop House. The Harrop family lived here from 1890-1990. Today the Harrop House serves as the office of Andrew Bashaw. Andrew is the executive director of the Buckeye Trail Association and the regional officer of the North Country Trail Association. The office has everything a hiker needs; a spot to sleep, a kitchen, shower, bathroom and computer. From the looks of things you can tell that Andrew is well organized and runs a tight ship here.

The people in Shawnee are friendly. I would suggest a visit to this town as Shawnee has a story to tell. I recommend visiting the Little Cities Of Black Diamonds building. The Little Cities Of Black Diamonds building is part museum and part library. Their goal is to tell the story of the coal mining history in the area. "Black Diamonds" is another term for coal. For a small town Shawnee is packed with history.

I found it quite odd and coincidental that my Black Diamond brand trekking pole broke while I was in the region of Little Cities of Black Diamonds.

To see some old photos of Shawnee visit:

May 21 - BTA Annual Meeting

Pontoon boat ride on Tappan Lake.

Today was the annual meeting of the Buckeye Trail Association (BTA). It was held at The BTA Barn on Tappan Lake. The meeting was short. The officers and staff members gave brief reports. The remainder of the meeting was dedicated to holding the annual election of the Board Of Trustees. Six people ran for five open slots. Balloting was done by paper. Only the BTA members in attendance could vote. I voted as I am a life member of the Buckeye Trail Association.

After the meeting Bruce "Poppie" Purdy gave an excellent presentation about scouting and the Buckeye Trail. Poppie is the BTA liaison to scouting. He has many good ideas on how to get Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other youth groups involved in the Buckeye Trail.

When his presentation was over Poppie asked me to say a few words about my hike on the Buckeye Trail. I spoke for about two minutes about how my thru hiking was coming along. I thanked everyone in the audience for their part in making my hike a success. Once again I told the story about, before my hike, how wrong I was about the Buckeye Trail. I wanted everyone to know that I felt a little ashamed of my preconceived notions that hiking the Buckeye Trail might be boring. I hope that other hikers will give the Buckeye Trail a chance.

At 1:00pm we had our choice of field trips. We could choose from a hike around Clendening Lake, a pontoon boat ride on Lake Tappan or a visit to a local railroad museum. The pontoon boat ride sounded like the most relaxing option so I chose it. Twelve of us plus two crew members, John and Ashley, were on the boat. We spent over two hours on the lake on a beautiful day. I was the only one who opted for a brief swim in the lake. The water was 70 degrees. It was a bit chilly but it felt good.

After dinner there was a presentation on the Appalachian Trail by Paul Stutzman. Paul, author of the book “Hiking Through”, hiked the AT in 2008 after his wife of 32 years died of breast cancer. He turned his grief into this adventure. Paul was an informative and interesting speaker.

After the festivities died down a bunch of us went outside and sat around the campfire. Around 10:00pm I was tired and went to bed. It was a good day.

May 20 - Murray City

Scallion and Captain Blue at the depot in Murray City.

Today Scallion and I hiked 11 miles. The rain stopped sometime after midnight. We awoke to a damp and foggy morning. We took our time getting packed and hit the trail around 9:00am. Nobody had a problem with us camping under the picnic shelter.

After a short walk down the Burr Oak dam access road we entered the woods. The woods were still wet and muddy from the rain. The trail was well maintained and easy to follow. We came across three guys on an ATV coming down the trail. One was carrying a shovel. They claimed they were from the gas company checking for gas leaks. One fellow asked if we smelled any gas. We said no. Their story smelled to us. They were in the Wayne National Forest to dig something or plant something. You decide.

The trail goes through Smoke Rise Ranch. Smoke Rise Ranch is a western style dude ranch near Murray City. The owner of the ranch was giving a trail ride to two ladies. We stopped and chatted a bit. They were
interested in our Buckeye Trail hike and we were interested in their horses.

We arrived in Murray City, our destination, at 1:30pm. We both were being picked up at 2:00pm to be shuttled to different places. In the thirty minutes we had to spare we visited the local convenience store and ate junk food. It tasted so good.

Our shuttle drivers arrived on schedule. We spent a few minutes chatting and enjoying the nice weather. Rocky Myers, from Shawnee, was there to pick up Scallion and take him to Zaleski State Forest. Scallion is joining his scout group from Centerville for a weekend of backpacking on the Zaleski backpack trail. I said goodbye to Scallion. Once again it was good hiking with him. We will definitely get together for another adventure.

Andrew Bashaw, the executive director of the Buckeye Trail Association, picked me up and took me to his home in Gloucester. There I dried out my gear, did laundry and took a shower. His wife, Claudia, cooked a nice supper for us. Andrew and Claudia have a two year old daughter named Adelaide. After supper all four of us drove to the BTA Annual Meeting at The Barn at Tappan Lake in Harrison County.

We arrived around dark and set up our tents. I met lots of volunteers and hikers. I sat down at some picnic tables and chatted with Poppie, Couscous, Pioneer Spirit, BTA Geek, Byron, Jack and Josh. It was nice to finally meet these guys. They had heard I was coming to the BTA Annual Meeting and wanted to meet me. They are all nice people.

May 19 - Burr Oak State Park

Scallion in his tent under the picnic shelter at Burr Oak State Park.

Today Scallion and I hiked 17 miles to the dam at Burr Oak State Park. It was a long day. I am now in the New Straightsville section which is map 18 of 26.

The Morgan County Transit service picked us up at 9:45am and we were back on the trail at 10:15am. The route today was almost all in the woods on trails except for a couple of miles of road walking.

The hike started with a steep climb up Stump Road. But it was worth it. The view from the top of the hill was outstanding. I felt like we were on a mountain top. It has to be one of the best views in Ohio.

Soon the trail turned into the woods in the Wayne National Forest. Both Scallion and I were apprenhensive about woods walking again. We somewhat expected fallen trees to block our path and missing trail markers. We were wrong. The trail was very well maintained and easy to follow. It was a graded trail and it made for delightful hiking.

Soon we entered Burr Oak State Park and connected with the backpack trail. We spent the rest of the day in Burr Oak. The trail was well maintained and easy to follow. It was great to be hiking in the woods again. After a couple of miles we took a nap break. We were a bit tired from our 25 mile day yesterday.

Later in the day the trail passed Buckeye Cave. It is a sandstone recess cave with a waterfall. Went hiked down to it and took a coffee break there. It is a neat place. It was there I decided to change my weekend plans. I will attend the Buckeye Trail Association annual meeting at Tappan Lake instead of hiking. The annual meeting is the largest gathering of BTA members. It is held at The Barn. It will be good for me to attend and meet new people. The people who make hiking this trail possible. Incredibly I had cell service from the cave. I called Andrew Bashaw, the executive director of the BTA, and set up my ride. Andrew had emailed me earlier and offered to give me a lift to the meeting.

It rained the last five miles of the hike. It was a steady drizzle. We got wet. The trail was wet and muddy. We were running out of daylight from the numerous breaks we had taken during the day. We arrived at the Tom Jenkins Dam at 8:45pm. It was almost dark. We saw a picnic shelter, water fountain, restroom and trash can. It had all we needed. We camped under the picnic shelter.

Even though we hiked in a steady rain in almost complete darkness through muddy, hilly and wet terrain we had a great time. This is something only a long distance hiker can appreciate. People think we are either a special breed or we are crazy. You decide. I will end today's post with a motto of long distance hikers. "We are out here because we are not all there."

May 18 - Shews Farm

Captain Blue crossing a flooded creek on Newburn Road.

Today Scallion and I hiked 25 miles. We took the opportunity to do some slackpacking which means hiking without a full pack.

We woke again to rain. But this time we were in a nice B&B instead of our tents. All of our gear had dried out nicely.

We arranged for a 9:30am shuttle pickup with the Morgan County Transit Service. Our driver was on time. She drove us 25 trail miles away (17 by road) and dropped us off a few miles past Shew's Farm. Our plan is to hike back to Stockport and spend a second night in the Mill B&B. The shuttle cost us $2 each. This is an incredible deal for a taxi like service.

We were on the trail by 10:15am. By now the rain had stopped. It felt great to not carry a full pack. We moved along quickly. It did not take long and we stripped down to shorts and t-shirts.

We saw two young Amish boys driving a horse drawn cart carrying logs to a small saw mill. They seemed pretty intriuged with us.  We were equally intriuged with them. After they dropped off their logs they rode past us to check us out. Shortly they turned around and rode past us again. It was clear they were doing this just to see us. We smiled at each other both times. I guess they don't see many men wearing shorts, backpacks and carrying trekking poles.

The route today was on back roads except for a short jaunt in the woods. We saw very few cars. We had the roads to ourselves.  The forecast called for more rain and it looked like rain was imminient all day but it never did rain.

Some of the backroads did not have bridges at the stream crossings. We had to ford or hop across seven stream crossings. Twice we took off our shoes to wade across. The water was very cold and fast moving but it was only ankle deep.

We took a break in the town of Chesterhill. The trail goes right through town.  We ate a late lunch with food bought from the convenience store / deli and sat outside the village office. A stray dog came up and wanted some food. It was a female dog who looked like she had some pups somewhere she was nursing. She was hungry so I gave her the rest of my cheese. I stopped in the village office and told them I was hiking the Buckeye Trail. They were very nice. They didn't know about the trail.

Our route today was 3.5 miles longer than the map showed. A small portion of the trail is closed because of a landowner issue. So we had to hike around this area. We knew this in advance.

We arrived back in Stockport about 8:30pm. Earlier we had phoned in a food order to the pizza restaurant. It was ready when we got there. We picked it up, went to the B&B and got off our feet for the day. Another great day of hiking.

May 17 - Stockport - 530 Miles To Dayton

Captain Blue on Center Bend Road.

Today we hiked 21 miles to the town of Stockport. I crossed the 900 mile mark today. I finished the Whipple Loop today an I am on the main loop again. I am so glad to be finished with the Whipple Loop. Yes, it deserves its nickname of the Stupid Loop.

Ir rained last night and when the sun came up it was still raining. Neither Scallion nor I was in any hurry to get packed up or leave the tent. We slept as long as we could. I heated some water for coffee by placing my stove outside my tent at arms reach. I laid in my tent and enjoyed two cups of Starbucks instant coffee. It finally quit raining around after 9:00am and we packed up.

The route today was on back roads. We saw very few cars. The hiking was nice as there was no mud or wet weeds to walk through.

About half way through our hike it started raining. It was a cold rain. The temperature was 51 degrees. It rained for about three hours. We were soaked.

We took two breaks today on the porches of abondoned buildings. There are a lot of abondoned buildings in this rural areas. Lots of homes, barns and garages are in various states of neglect and decay.

At the crossroads in Hackney we sat on a covered porch of an old store front which was loaded with junk. An intoxicated old fellow drove up and shouted out to us. He asked if we had permission to be here. We told him what we were doing. He stayed quiet which made us uneasy. He then said we should not put any dimes in the pop machine since it was broken. The fellow went on to explain that Sallion looks exactly like the owner of the old store. The fellow was just ribbing us in a polite way since he thought he knew us.
About nine miles from Stockport we sat on a porch of an old home to escape the rain and make a few phone calls. We called the Stockport Mill B&B and made a reservation for the night. This is the place Scallion laid over last weekend. We got a reduced rate of $60/night and decided to share a room.

Earlier in the day I had received an email informing me that a high school friend of mine, Josie Gill, had passed away from breast cancer. Josie was my date for our junior year prom. I remember driving the family car over to her house, meeting her parents and pinning a corsage on her. I was very nervous. If I recall correctly I wasn't her first choice for a prom date. The guy she liked had asked somebody else and a friend suggested I ask Josie. All day long I was sad and reflected on the past. Life is just too short.

We arrived at the Stockport Mill B&B around 7:00pm. The Stockport Mill B&B is right on the Muskingum River and was once an functioning mill. Now the mill generates electricity instead.

We were cold, wet and tired. We dried out our gear in the room, ate supper at a pizza place, took showers and were in bed by hikers midnight (9:00pm). More rain is expected tomorrow.

May 16 - Morgan County

Barn on SR-821.

Today Scallion and I hiked 20 miles from the town of Whipple to the Morgan County line. We didn't start hiking until noon and were finished by 7:00pm. We were rested and ready to go.  The route today was on back roads.

Maria and I picked up Scallion near the AEP lands. He took a county funded shuttle service from Stockport to the edge of the county. As long as he stayed within the county his shuttle fare was only $2 even though it was a 30 mile ride. It saved us a lot of driving to get him.

Maria dropped us off in Whipple and went back to Cleveland.

The temps were in the mid 50s with a slight breeze. This is perfect for hiking. It was very cloudy and it was supposed to rain but it never did. We clipped away the miles and commented how this cool weather was much better than the temps in the mid 80s last week.

We crossed to the west of I-77 finally. Our map said there was a restaurant at the interchange. We debated whether to stop. When we got to I-77 all we saw was an adult book store. We decided to keep on hiking.
Campsites were hard to find. The area is remote, sparsely populated, wooded and hilly. The ridges look as if they could have been stripped mined. Along Keith Creek we climbed up an embankment and found a flat, grassy area near a small pond to camp. We set up camp and were in bed by hikers midnight.

May 14 & 15 - Zero Days

I took two days off from hiking. Both days were spent relaxing with Maria in a cabin in a remote part of southeast Ohio.

This is the 28th day I have known Maria. I have seen her on all or part of 13 of those days. Kind of amazing when you consider I am in the middle of a long distance hike on the Buckeye Trail.

On Saturday we made a trip to Wal-Mart to resupply. I needed food, coffee, stove fuel, first aid items, an ATM and to get my eye glasses fixed. The frame of my glasses broke while in my pack. I got all of this done with one stop at the giant retailer. It was a great day to not hike as it rained and stormed.

Sunday was a milestone day for me. I celebrated making fifty revolutions around the sun. For dinner we cooked steaks on the grill, had salad, fresh green beans, birthday cake and ice cream.

I resume hiking on the Whipple Loop on Monday. Scallion will join me for a second week. He has been hanging out in Stockport. Mother Nature has a couple of cool and rainy days in store for us.

May 13 - Whipple

The post office in Whipple.

Today Scallion and I hiked 13 miles to the town of Whipple. We were glad to leave behind the unmaintained parts of the Whipple Loop.

We got up at 6:00am this morning. The plan was to get an early start. This was my idea. However, we lounged around our campsite at Jeff Erb's camp drinking coffee and talking until almost 9:00am and did not get an early start. This was my idea.

The miles went by fast today. We enjoyed the road walking. The miles were easy compared to what we had been through. It was great to hike next to each other and not worrying about route finding. By 12:45pm we were in the small town of Whipple. We went to the small convenience store and got burgers and drinks.

My plan is to take two zero days in a row. After twelve straight days of hiking I need a break. I am meeting Maria this afternoon. Our plan is to get a cabin for the weekend and relax. Sunday is a milestone day for me.

Scallion is heading to Stockport and is staying in the Hardware B&B tonight. From there his plans are unknown. He may head home back to Dayton. He may keep hiking on the Buckeye Trail. He may rendezvous with me on Monday and continue hiking together.

Scallion is an excellent hiking partner. He is an easy going guy. He comes prepared and is self sufficient. He is a hardy and experienced hiker. He is flexible and easy to be with. I can not think of a better hiking partner than Scallion to hike this rugged Whipple Loop with. His wisdom and experience comes from hiking the Appalachian Trail end to end, 800 miles of hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, decades of knowledge as a Boy Scout leader and having recently spent a whole year circling the globe visiting 52 countries.

At the post office in Whipple I mailed home over two pounds of gear. Just having Scallion to talk to and bounce ideas off of made me realize that I am carrying some items I can do without.

My shuttle driver arrived on schedule at 1:00pm to take me to a cabin in the woods for a long weekend with Maria.

May 12 - Sitka

Downed power line and tree on the Buckeye Trail.

Today we hiked 14 miles. Put an asterisk next to the mileage today. We decided to walk around the remaining six miles of trail hiking.

I woke up this morning with a guilty conscious. The previous day we had walked on the road to get to our camping spot at the church and bypassed a short section of the Buckeye Trail. I wanted to go back and hike that section. Scallion was fine with this so we backtracked a half mile. Doing this was a mistake. We soon got lost. We entered the trail in the woods, followed a turn blaze and ended up in a field with an oil pump. The blazes ended. We eventually found our way out to the road but not on the trail.

The next section of trail entered a power line clearing. It was impassable. The weeds were already chest high and they were mainly thorny rose bushes. We decided to walk around this short section and attempt the next one.

The next section started out fine but quickly got worse. Lots of blown down trees, fallen limbs, missing trail markers and knee high weeds. We got lost. We found the trail again. We got lost again. There was no footpath to follow in this area. Hiking meant walking in weeds around blown down trees looking for markers. The trail was frequently very steep. Navigating around fallen trees on steeps hills is hard.

In one section, to get around a blown down tree we had to walk over a former garbage dump. This meant walking on broken glass. In another area trees had fallen on a power line. The downed power line was blocking the trail in two places. We had to climb over the power line to stay on course.

The trail hiking was just too difficult and dangerous. This part of the trail has not been maintained in years. It is on the verge of being abandoned. It will take some serious work to make this a hiking trail again. I made the decision to walk on roads around the remaining six miles of woods trail.

We stopped for water at a farm. The farm is owned by Eric and Debbie Cunninham. They served us chilled water, soda and made a sandwich for us. We took a relaxing break on their porch. We talked about a lot of things including the gas and oil boom in the area. The Marcellus Shale under the ground holds large deposits of natural gas. Landowners are being approached by speculators and oil companies to sign gas leases. There are promises of big money for landowners once drilling starts. Eric named his dog Pancake. The dog likes to chase cars. He is certain he will find his dog on the road flat as a pancake.

The road walking was much easier and enjoyable than the woods walking. We made good time on the roads. About a mile before our intended destination we took a break at a small getaway camp. It had an enclosed picnic shelter, a camper trailer and an outhouse. It looked like a good place to camp. Scallion flagged down a car and asked the driver if he knew who owns the property. The driver said "I do." We got permission to camp there. The owner showed us around and filled our water bottles at his house. This could be a potential camping spot for all Buckeye Trail hikers.

May 11 - Deucher Baptist Church

Scallion at the cave on Archers Loop

Today we hiked 12 or so miles. It was hot and humid with temperatures rising to the mid 80s.

The trail conditions improved remarkably shortly after we started hiking. After we crossed Irish Run Road the trail became a dirt footpath in the woods which was well traveled. No blown down trees, limbs or high weeds. It was a delight to hike.

We visited the sandstone cave and natural bridge on the Archers Fork Loop. Both were worth the short side trips to see them.

We followed the plastic blue diamond markers as there were no blue blazes. Many of the diamond markers were on the ground instead of nailed to the tree. This made following the trail harder. We first thought somebody was taking the markers off the tree and throwing them on the ground. But on closer inspection this was not the case. The nails for the markers were driven too far into the tree. So as the tree grows out and the bark expands it pushes the markers off the nails.

The trail had lots of ups and downs today. We could see where trail crews had constructed new trail and switchbacks to make hiking easier. The ups and downs combined with temps in the 80s wore us out. As we crossed into the Whipple section the trail went back to rough going. More weeds, blown down trees and we got lost again.

We decided to walk to road a bit. We soon stopped at the Duecher Baptist Church. We got permission to camp here. It was a fine spot high on a hill about three miles from the Ohio River.
We stopped by the house next door for water. When the lady answered the door we asked for water. She left and returned with two glasses of water. We were standing there holding all of our empty water containers when she came back. She quickly realized we wanted more than just a glass of water and filled our water bottles.

We are camped in a flat area on the edge of the small cemetery outside the chapel. Tonight is bible study night here. A group has arrived early to sing hymns. We are sitting by our tents ,relaxing, cooking dinner and listening to piano playing and hymns being sung. It doesn't get any better than this.

May 10 - SR-260

Scallion negotiating a steep climb down. This would be the least of our problems.

Today Scallion and I hiked 10 miles. It took almost 10 hours. To put it mildly the trail was a challenge today.

Leaving Ring Mill campsite began a 32 mile section of nearly all hiking in the woods. We were looking forward to this section in the Wayne National Forest.

Right after leaving camp we got our first taste of the challenges ahead. The trail along the Muskingum River was waist high in grass. The trail was narrow and hard to see. The high grass obscured holes and limbs on the trail making things difficult. The blue blazes were plentiful so at least we knew what direction to head.

After two or so miles along the river we crossed a road and climbed up the ridge. The trail was again narrow and not well traveled. Weeds about six to twelve inches were growing in the trail. It looked like only deer used this section of trail. There were a number downed limbs and blown down trees making the hiking difficult.

The trail was generally well marked with a few exceptions. At unmarked intersections Scallion and I would split up and head in different directions to look for trail markers. We devised a scheme that whoever found a trail marker, and thus the trail, would blow two blasts on their whistle. The other person would respond with one whistle blast and backtrack to the trail.
After our lunch break at Wilson Run Road the price of travel went way up. The blue blazes disappeared and we didn't see one the rest of the day. The trail was marked by blue plastic triangles instead. This was fine but we didn't know this. We were looking for blue blazes. The blue diamond markers were not listed in the trail alert and were not described on the map as being Buckeye Trail markers. We figured it out.

The blue triangle markers got fewer and fewer. Staying on the trail got harder and harder. We got lost. We tried calling the supervisor of this section of the trail a few times. We had no cell service. After about going a mile out of our way we back tracked and found the turn we missed. You needed a keen eye to see this turn. Getting lost drained us of valuable time, energy and morale.

Once we got back on the Buckeye Trail the real work began. It was us against an unmaintained and poorly marked section of trail. Blow downs were numerous. Trail markers were sparse. Weeds covered the trail. Going over, under and through the blown down trees was tough on us. Some were quite dangerous to negotiate as they were near steep edges. We got scratched. We got bruised. We crawled. We climbed. We split up frequently to scout for trail markers. We finally made it to SR-260.

By now it was past 6:00pm and our trail spanking had exhausted us. We hike about a mile farther and set up camp.

Both of us are experienced hikers. We've hiked many trails and many miles. We know a bad section of trail when we see one. If this keeps up we are going to declare this section impassable to us and walk on roads instead.

I am so glad I had a hiking partner. I am not sure I could have made it through this section solo. Poor Scallion. He picked a fine section to join me.

May 8 - Road Fork

Captain Blue in the Big Muskie bucket used for strip mining.

Today I hiked 23 miles. I have now hiked 810 miles on the Buckeye Trail.

My day started early. I was up at 5:00am and on the trail at 6:10am. I had two miles to hike before 7:00am to meet Doug LeVasseur. It was neat hiking so early in the morning. Doug was there to give me shuttle from the lower connector of the Whipple Loop the upper connector in Belle Valley.

On the way to Belle Valley we made a short side trip to see Big Muskie. Big Muskie is the huge bucket of an earth removing machine AEP used to strip mine coal. The bucket is so large that the marching band of the local high school fit in it for a photo. The bucket is now on display and you can walk in it too.

In Belle Valley Doug and I had breakfast. Doug knew a couple of people in the restaurant. Doug also knew the fellow across the street who runs Timo's Backyard BBQ. We visited Timo and his family who were busy preparing smoked and BBQ chicken for Mothers Day. They were quite interested in my trek on the Buckeye Trail. They gave me a free chicken dinner and are interested in hosting Buckeye Trail hikers. If you are ever in Belle Valley check out Timo's Backyard BBQ. It is a small, seasonal, concession stand across from the gas station. They are very nice people.

I loaded up on food while I was in town. I won't have a chance to resupply for six days. The Whipple Loop is pretty remote. I've had a tremendous appetite lately so I bought more food than a normal person can eat. I don't want to go hungry. I finally left town at 11:00am and had a heavier than normal pack.

The next 21 miles were all on back roads. It was quite enjoyable. I saw maybe a dozen cars all day. Most of the time I had the road to myself. The road hike today was much easier than hiking in the woods yesterday but was just as scenic. No mud, fallen branches or steep climbs on the roads. Some people frown on the Buckeye Trail because it uses so many roads. It is too bad people think this way because the road walking can be quite enjoyable especially in southern Ohio.

There fragrance of the spring blooms was heavy in the air today. It smelled wonderful. More so than past days. The sun shined all day and the temps were in the low 70s. Everything was blooming today.

I arrived at Road Fork around 6:45pm. I am camping at the Road Fork Baptist Church. I called ahead and got permission. They are right on the trail and have a bathroom for me to use. The cemetery is a stone's throw away from my campsite. I hope it stays quiet over there.

Starting tomorrow I will have a hiking partner for five days. Mike Fanelli from Centerville is joining me.  Mike, aka Scallion, has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and recently spent a year traveling around the world couch surfing. Mike hiked bit with Brent and Amy Anslinger on their Buckeye Trail thru hike in 2003. It will be good to have company. Mike knows he needs to hit the ground running to keep up with me.

Anybody know how to get a whippoorwill to quiet down? It is bed time and he is quite noisy.

May 9 - Ring Mill Campsite

Scallion and Captain Blue at Road Fork Baptist Church

Today we hiked 18 miles to the Ring Mill campsite and picnic area in the Wayne National Forest.

Mike and Sue Fanelli arrived at the Road Fork Baptist Church just after 9:00am. They spent the previous night at a motel in Zanesville. They brought me a big plate of motel breakfast food which I quickly ate.

Mike and I met through a mutual friend, Joe Windows, about 20 years ago in a class about caving. Although we have been acquainted for a long time we have never spent much time together. We live in the same town and know a lot of the same people. Our friend, Joe Windows, passed away six years ago. By coincidence today is Joe's birthday. Mike's wife, Sue, was an elementary school teacher for my two youngest brothers, Jack and David.

Mike's trail name is Scallion. The first thing I noticed was Scallion's small pack. It was about half the size of my pack. He was carrying six days of food in that small pack. Scallion is an ultra light weight backpacker. He teaches backpacking clinics on ultra light weight backpacking.

Scallion brought a resupply box for me that included a new pair of hiking shoes. They are brand new and right out of the box. In the old days of stiff leather boots you would need to break in a new pair of boots before taking a long hike in them. Otherwise you would get blisters. With the hiking shoes today you can pretty much put them on and go. The boots are an identical pair I purchased before the hike and kept on standby for just this reason.

We took a few photos and were on the trail by 10:00am. When Scallion hiked with the Anslingers in 2003 this part of the Buckeye Trail, the Whipple Loop, did not exist.
The route today was all on back roads which were very beautiful. We were able to hike side by side for the whole day except for when the occasional car or school bus came by. We both commented on how enjoyable the road walking was.

Having someone to talk to made the miles go by quicker. We made sure to stay alert at turns and look for blazes as to not jabber away and miss a turn. I did most of the talking as it was nice to have someone to talk to. I am sure Scallion thinks I am a motor mouth.
About three miles before camp we stopped for a break under a shade tree in the front yard of a house. The owner came over and sat down with us. He hadn't heard of the Buckeye Trail before and was surprised to know it came by his place. He gave us two bottles of chilled water to drink and filled our water bottles with tap water.

We arrived at Ring Mill campsite and picnic area at 6:00pm. We were both ready to be done hiking for the day. We opted to camp near the picnic shelter instead of in one of the three designated campsites. Under the picnic shelter there several picnic tables and lots of room. The Ring Mill campsite is along the Little Muskingum river. The river is very scenic. Scallion found some clams in the river while he was wading. We wondered if they are safe to eat.

The campsite is quiet. Nobody is here but us. We built a small campfire and gazed at the stars. We both felt that Joe Windows was smiling down on us and somehow joining us during this journey.

May 7 - End of AEP Land

Captain Blue in the AEP lands.

Today I hiked 22 miles to almost the end of the American Electric Power lands.

The route today was entirely in the woods on a footpath. It was a tough hike today.

My day started with me trying to find the continuation of the blue blazes near the haul road crossing. I never did find them. There was a blaze at the edge of the woods then one across an electric fence and then they ended as I could see. Using my Smartphone and Google Maps I got a bird's eye view of my location. The plan was to hike the haul road out to the main road and get oriented. Before much walking on the haul road I found the blue blazes again. From there on the trail was very well marked on the AEP lands and easy to follow. (Note: I did exchange voice mails with Herb Hulls with the BTA who knows the AEP area well. He was willing to provide me guidance but we didn't connect.)

I saw turkey hunters, fisherman and mushroom gatherers today but no hikers. I could tell it was a weekend because of all the people I saw.

The neatest thing I saw today was a huge bee hive. I came into a low area and heard a very loud buzzing sound. It sounded like bees buzzing. It was so loud but no bees were visible that I thought the sound was from a motor or weird sounding waterfall. I left the trail to investigate. About twenty yards off the trail was a large, hollow, beech tree with an opening. I could see thousands of bees coming and going and swarming on the outside of the trunk. It was a busy bee hive! I could only imagine the activity inside. It was the loudest bee hive I have ever heard.

The trail was often muddy. The soles of my hiking shoes are worn flat from almost 800 miles of hiking. It was hard getting traction on the muddy hills. I slipped and slided a lot. I would have fallen many times if I did not have trekking poles. I am getting a replacement pair of hiking shoes on Monday.

It did not rain today. But my legs and feet were wet all day from the damp vegetation.
Tomorrow I begin hiking the Whipple Loop. This is the loop you see on the map in southeast Ohio. This loop is affectionately called the Stupid Loop. I am not sure why it is called this. Maybe I will find out? The map says this is called the North Country Trail Connector. But it does not connect to the North Country Trail from what I can see. I will be going in a circle for a week or so before I start making westward progress home. On this loop I will get to see Archers Fork which I have always wanted to visit.

I am camped in a small pine forest at the edge of AEP lands. It feels remote here. I can hear a turkey gobbling and a whippoorwill  singing. The frogs are peeping too. It is a fine night to be camping.

Here is a map link to my campsite location:

May 6 - AEP Land

Crash site of the airship USS Shenandoah. It crashed in 1925.

Today I hiked 19 miles to land owned by the American Electric Power company.

Once again the route today was mainly on back roads except for a five mile woods hike in Wolf Run State Park and a mile or so in AEP land.

The Buckeye Trail went by a monument marking the spot where  the USS Shenandoah crashed in 1925. The USS Shenandoah was a helium filled airship. It crashed on a windy day in September and parts of the wreckage was found 13 miles away. Over a dozen men died in the crash but many men survived. This crash ended the dirigible program for the United States.

The trail through Wolf Run State Park was very enjoyable. The trail was well maintained and easy to follow. Somebody has been doing lots of good trail work here. The route was along Wolf Run Lake which was quite scenic. I saw no other hikers.

In the town of Belle Valley I grabbed a quick bite to eat. The lady working at the restaurant was very nice. She asked if I was hiking the Buckeye Trail. It feels good to be asked this. This means the local people know about the trail and can spot hikers.

When I left the restaurant I spotted dark storm clouds on the horizon. I decided to wait a bit before leaving town. Soon a short and intense rain came. I took refuge in the lobby of the post office. I waited and hour for the storm to come and go.

The AEP lands are former strip mine lands which have been reclaimed. The lands are open for recreation and the Buckeye Trail goes through it. I think this is one of the longest off-road sections on the BT.

Before entering the AEP lands I stopped by a farm to get water. A lady was heading out to collect eggs from the hen house. She let me fill my water bottles from a faucet in the cattle barn. She said she is the last house before the AEP lands. I was quite lucky to see her and get water at this last chance stop.

The mile or so in AEP land was enjoyable until I entered a grassy field. The blue blazes just ended. I can't figure out which way to go. No trail in the grass, no blue blazes to follow and lots of open strip mine area. This is a problem to solve tomorrow.

I set up camp and got in bed before the next rain shower arrived.

May 5 - Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake

Today I hiked 21 miles to Seneca Lake.

The route today was on back roads except for about five miles of woods walking near Seneca Lake.

I went into the town of Old Washington. The town was a bit farther off the trail then it looked on the map. I arrived at 11:45am. The post office was closed until 12:30pm. I needed to mail a few items home. I visited the local grocery store to get sunscreen and stove fuel (Heet). They had neither. I waited for the post office to open and got out of town.

Old Washington is home to the Buckeye Trail high school. I would like to know how it got named.
The hike from Old Washington to Seneca Lake went by fast. I hiked as fast as I could to make for the time I spent in Old Washington.

At Seneca Lake I met Doug and Ethel Marie LeVasseur. Doug maintains a section of the Buckeye Trail near his house. Doug hiked the last five miles in the woods section with me. It was nice to have company as part of this section had some deferred trail maintenance. We found our way through ok but had to stop at a cabin to ask for directions.

Seneca Lake is in Noble County. Noble County was the last of Ohio's 88 counties to form.

I am spending the night at a cabin owned by Doug and Ethel Marie. The cabin is quite nice. There is a beaver pond in back and bird houses in front. There is a nesting pair of bluebirds here. Doug is very knowledgeable of bluebirds. We cooked hamburgers and asparagus on the grill.

May 4 - Salt Fork State Park

Captain Blue at Barnyard Campground

Today I hiked 20 miles to just past Salt Fork State Park. I camped out at the Barn Yard Campground.
I enjoyed a hearty homemade breakfast with Pat and Jim. We drank several cups of home roasted coffee. Jim has a side enterprise where he roasts coffee beans. The coffee is donated to his church for sale. The coffees were delicious. He gave me a bag of coffee. His brand name is Journey Java.

The route today was all on back roads except for about four miles of trail walking in Salt Fork Wildlife Area. The back roads were deserted. I hiked for almost four hours before a car passed me.

The trail goes through Red Hill Farm Wildlife Conservany on private land. It was very open and windy. I passed by a small conference center. The door was unlocked so I went inside to take a break from the wind. It felt good to warm up.

I passed by the Jim Morrison cow in a pasture. I could swear the mooing of this cow sounded just like Jim Morrison of the Doors. It sounded like the cow was mooing a few lines from the song "L.A. Woman". Maybe the trail is starting to play mind games on me or I ate a bad mushroom last night?

The trail through Salt Fork Wildlife Area was beautiful. Lots of wild flowers in bloom. It was a bit strenuous for me with many little ups and downs. I could tell I was in a section of trail maintained by Debbie Zampini as the blazing was excellent.

At 5:00pm I reached the spot marking the half way point on this hike. I was glad to finally reach it. Half way points are bittersweet for me. I am happy to be half finished but then again after all this time and effort I am only half way done.

The Barn Yard Campground is about a mile off the Buckeye Trail. Just as I was to start the one mile trek a pickup truck stopped at a stop sign. I motioned to him and asked him for a ride. He said yes. I rode in the back of his truck to the campground.

The only other campers are a couple of turkey hunters. One of the hunters, Benny from Lorain, drove me to a convenience store. I got 10 pieces of fried chicken and a six pack of adult beverages to celebrate passing the half way point. I ate eight pieces of chicken and drank five beverages. I guess I was hungry and thirsty.
It felt good to be camping again.

Half Way Point - 722 Miles To Dayton

At 5:00pm on May 4, Day 46, I have reached the half way point on my Buckeye Trail hike near Salt Fork State Park.

Yippie!!! I can't wait to see Wilbur and Orville again!

Map Link:

May 3 - Hoop Road

Cow in pasture near Clendening Lake

Today I hiked 15 miles to Hoop Road near the line between Harrison and Guernsey County.

It rained most of the day. It was a cold and miserable rain. The temperature never rose out of the 40's. I am getting tired of hiking in the rain. Despite the rain the hike today was scenic.

Today the route was on back roads except for a five mile stretch of woods along Piedmont Lake. Walking on back roads is enjoyable. The roads are lightly traveled, windy and very scenic. At times the roads feel like trails in the woods.

I left the Clendening Lake region and entered the Piedmont Lake region. I passed by the Lake Piedmont Inn and took a break from the rain on their front porch. The Inn is closed for repairs until the fall. But I made myself at home on the large covered porch anyway and heated up a cup of hot coffee. I called the owner of the Inn to let him know I was here. He was very friendly.

The trail in the woods along Piedmont Lake was pretty. It was quite muddy and wet from the rain but it was well maintained. I could see where Ray had worked hard to clear blown down trees and cut away multi-flora rose bushes. There were plenty of blue blazes for me to follow without having to look at the map.

I wandered into the campground of the Piedmont Lake Marina. The only place to escape the rain was to go into the mens restroom. I plopped down on the floor and took a break. I phoned Pat Spain who I met the day before. Pat, and her husband Jim, live about about a mile from the Buckeye Trail and invited me to spend the night with them. I gladly accepted. Today would not be a good day to camp out.

When I arrived at Hoop Road I called Jim Spain. He picked me up and took me to their house. They have a nice house on 230 acres, with a pond and lots of woods. I took a hot shower and did a load of laundry. Jim cooked some morel mushrooms he had collected a day earlier. They were delicious! This is the first time I  had eaten morel mushrooms. I can see why people hike the woods to collect them. Jim and Pat served homemade pizza for dinner. It was delicious too. I was pretty worn out and was in bed by 9:30pm.

May 2 - Clendening Lake

Ray Ferrell at Clendening Lake

 Today I hiked 21 miles to just past Clendening Lake.

Ray Ferrell picked me up at the BTA Barn and dropped me off near Tappan Dam at 9:15am. I hiked 10 miles by myself and met up with Ray at 12:45pm at Clendening Lake.

Ray and I hiked the Clendening Lake region together. It was a strenuous stretch of trail. It is very beautiful. The woods are a lush green now. The trail is well marked but not well traveled. Spring wild flowers were blooming everywhere including on the trail at times. We cleared the trail of fallen limbs while we hiked.

Ray maintains a section of the Buckeye Trail in the Piedmont Lake area. I will hike there tomorrow. It was nice hiking with a trail maintainer. It gave me a better appreciation for the work that they do especially in remote, wooded sections. We saw several downed trees covering the trail. Ray made a mental note of where they are. Keeping the Buckeye Trail open for hikers is a never ending task.

The trail in Harrison County is the prettiest part of the Buckeye Trail I have seen so far. The region has gently rolling hills and several lakes owned by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. The area is wooded and the trail feels remote in many places. The only way I could tell I was still in Ohio was when I saw Ohio license plates on cars. I am definitely planning a trip back here with a group of friends.

Rain was forecasted for all day. Luckily it only rained in the morning before the hike. We did not hike in the rain despite expecting to do so.

After the hike we ate dinner at a small cafe in Freeport. Pat Spain, the local librarian, joined us afterward. We chatted about the Buckeye Trail, their new hiking group and posed for a few photos. On the way back Ray showed me the Freeport Lockup. The Freeport Lockup is a small, one room, jail cell made from sandstone blocks. It was in use from 1895-1937. It is not a place you would want to be locked up in.

I am spending a third night at the Barn. Ray will pick me up in the morning and drop me off at Clendening Lake so I can resume my hike.

May 1 - Zero Day At The Barn

Today ended up being a zero mile day. No hiking. The morning brought gray skies and a steady rain. It wasn't a good day for hiking.

Ray, a trail maintainer for the Bowerston section, was planning to hike with me today. I phoned him in the morning and suggested we hike on Monday instead. He was fine with that. Ray maintains several trail sections in the lakes region here. I hear he does a great job maintaining the trail.

I left the Barn only once today when Maria and I went out to eat at the Express Cafe on Tappan Lake. When our order arrived the waitress brought a large plate of food for me and said "I hope you are hungry". I just smiled at her and said "no problem". When we were done there was not a single dinner roll or pack of crackers left on the table. I ate everything.

Maria left in the afternoon. For the rest of the day I enjoyed the solitude of the Barn. Mary told me there is not much to do there. This was fine with me since I don't do much on my zero days. By late afternoon the rain had stopped and the temps were in the mid 60's. The sun tried to come out once.

I can't believe it is May 1st already. I have come a long way since April 1st when I was in Pemberville. April was a wet month. Lots of rain. I hear reports that April was the wettest one on record or at least in 50 years.
Two weeks from today I celebrate a milestone birthday - one of those birthdays where your age ends in a zero. I have always remarked that hiking on the Appalachian Trail is my personal fountain of youth. Long distance hiking makes me feel young and strong. I am delighted to discover that the fountain of youth is on the Buckeye Trail too.

The Buckeye Trail Barn

The Buckeye Trail Association Barn near Tappan Lake.

Here is a map link to the location of the Buckeye Trail Association Barn near Tappan Lake. It looks like I will be here a few nights.

To learn more about the BTA Barn visit:

There is not a shelter on the whole Appalachian Trail that is this nice! As a bonus the Barn is home to a colony of insect eating bats too.

April 30 - Tappan Lake

These five young men in Bowerston ran over to meet me.

Today I hiked 18 miles to Tappan Lake along US-250. Mary dropped me off on the trail around 11:00am.
The route today was mostly on windy, hilly rural roads except for two stretches near Leesville Lake and Tappan Lake. Hiking is more difficult on the roads now with lots of ups and downs. It is much more scenic too.

Hiking along Leesville Lake was beautiful. It reminded me of hiking on the Appalachian Trail in Maine in the glacial lakes region. Spring is in full swing and lots of wild flowers are in bloom. The temps were in the low 60s and the sun popped out every now and then from between the clouds.

The Buckeye Trail goes through the small town of Bowerston. As I was walking through town five young boys playing basketball spotted me. One yelled to me and asked if I was a hiker. I yelled back that I was and I had walked over 600 miles. Immediately and without a further word all five ran over to check me out. We chatted a bit and I answered their questions about hiking and where I stay. I gave each one of them my card. I asked if the town had a convenience store. The littlest one was so cute. He wanted to make sure I knew how to find the store by telling me to turn right at the white car.

I reached the Tappan Dam area at 5:45pm. Mary Hamilton was there to pick me up and take me to the Buckeye Trail Association Barn. The Barn is a field house for BTA events. The barn is over 100 years old. Many people have volunteered time and materials to fix it up. It has a kitchen, dorms rooms, bathrooms, showers and an open meeting area.

Maria arrived around 6:30pm. She brought a crock pot dinner for us to enjoy and is spending the evening with me.