|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.