iN75 Magazine Article

Here is a link to a story about my Buckeye Trail hike which appeared in the iN75 magazine on June 22.

http://www.niekamp.org/in75_buckeyetrail_20110622.pdf

June 15 - Dayton - Hike Complete




Today I hiked the remaining nine miles of the Buckeye Trail into Dayton to Deeds Point. It was a wonderful day!

The final leg of my journey began on the bike path in Fairborn at Colonel Glenn Highway and Kaffman Road. This is where the Troy Section of the Buckeye Trail starts. Maria made the journey from Cleveland to Dayton to hike on the last day with me.

The day was overcast and rain was in the forecast. This is only appropriate since I had hiked so many miles in the rain on this Buckeye Trail hike. To me rain was just liquid sunshine.

From the bike path on Kauffman Road the trail goes up to Wright Brothers Memorial near Wright Patterson Air Force Base. We toured the Huffman Praire Flying Field Interpretive Center there. The exhibits in this center are geared towards the activites and accomplishments of the Wright Brothers after they made their first flight. From the overlook at the Wright Brothers Memorial you can see part of Huffman field. It was here at Huffman Field where the Wright Brothers flew their improved airplanes.

The first flight was in 1903 at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. This flight lasted 12 seconds and there was no steering of the airplane. The Wright Bothers came back to Dayton, created the Wright Flyer III, and flew it at Huffman Field in 1905. This flight lasted 39.5 minutes, covered 24 miles and included steering to make turns. This flight lasted longer than all other flights combined. The Wright Flyer III is considered world's first practical aircraft. It was invented and flown here in Dayton. (What good is an airplane you can't steer?)

It started raining at the Wright Brothers Memorial. It would rain for the next hour. We had trouble following the Buckeye Trail as it left the memorial. We followed the blue blazes into the woods and they dissappeared. We had to forge our own route which included the bike path, running across SR-444, walking along active railroad tracks and climbing down the railroad tressle at Springfield Street. We found the blue blazes again and headed towards Eastwood MetroPark.

To get to Eastwood MetroPark from Springfield Street the Buckeye Trail goes a short distance on water well fields owned by the City of Dayton. As we crossed this property we were approached by two City of Dayton Water Department employees in a truck. The driver manuvered his truck in a way to block our path. He told us that we were not allowed on the property and we must leave. I explained to him that the Buckeye Trail goes through here. This  did not matter to him. He ordered us to leave. I offered to show him the Buckeye trail map and offered to give him my card. He refused both. I explained I was finishing the last four miles of a 1,444 mile journey. This did not mater to him.

I asked if he would call his supervisor. The other fellow in the truck did. We heard a bit of the conversation. The fellow told his supervisor that two people were hiking in the Buckeye Trail then we heard him say "yep (pause) yep (pause) yep (pause) and then ok." The supervisor confirmed that the Buckeye Trail goes through this area and we were allowed to proceed. I found it ironic that after hiking 1,440 miles on the Buckeye Trail no one had attempted to block my path or throw me off the trail until I got to my hometown! But, in all sinceerity, I am so glad that the City of Dayton does their best to protect our precious water source. So I give these fellows credit for doing their job.

At Eastwood MetroPark I met with Chris Rizer, a reporter for the Dayton Daily News, for about an hour. Chris asked all kinds of interesting questions about my hike including my favorite towns along the way. The article Chris is writing will appear in the Sunday (June 19) edition of the Dayton Daily News in the Life section. Look for it!

Around 2:30pm members of the Dayton Hikers group starting arriving. I put out an open invitation and invited anyone to hike the last three miles of journey with me from Eastwood MetroPark to Deed's Point. About 15 people showed up. It was a great turnout! A videographer from the local FOX45/ABC22 TV station in town was there too. I gave him a short interview.

We walked the last three miles of the Buckeye Trail along the Mad River bike path to downtown Dayton. Mother Nature was kind to us and it did not rain. As we approached Deeds Point the fountains along the river were shooting water into the sky. I saw the Dayton skyline and Deeds Point for the first time in three months. The water shooting into the air was quite a site and made for a wonderful homecoming! A crowd of about 20 people had assembled at Deeds Point to help me celebrate the finish of my hike. They were waving flags and cheering me on.

The final stretch of the trail to Deeds Point goes on a foot bridge over the Mad River to Deeds Point. While on the bridge I got a blast of energy and decided to jump into the air and kick my heels in jubilation. Lisa Powell, a photographer for the Dayton Daily News, was there and caught this moment on camera. It felt so good to finish this hike and be back home in Dayton!

I gave "high fives" and hugs to the crowd waiting for me at Deeds Point. They continued cheering, chanting and waving flags. To close the loop on this circuit hike I needed to take ten more steps to the statues of Wilbur and Orville Wright on Deeds Point. I gave a big hug to the statues of the two brothers. I yelled "Off Trail!" The hike was officially over.

Afterwards we went to the Outdoor Recreation office of the Five Rivers MetroParks on Saint Clair Street in downtown Dayton. Brent Anslinger and Mike Fanelli had cake, ice cream and soda pop there for everyone. A slide show of my Buckeye Trail photos was showing on a large screen. There I got a chance to greet everyone and chat with them. A few short speeches and a couple of announcements were made. The crowd sung a belated "Happy Birthday" song to me at at my mother's request. There was a short question and answer period where I talked about my hike.

By about 5:30pm the festivites were over. It was time to return to normal life whatever that may be.

June 14 - Fairborn - 9 Miles To Dayton

Farm on Rebert Road between Springfield and Fairborn.

Today I hiked 16 miles from Springfield to Fairborn. I am now a mere nine miles from finishing this hike!

The hike today was all on roads except for a very short stretch of trail in Cold Springs Park in Fairborn. I hiked fast today.I felt like "a horse heading for the barn" as I am close to Dayton.

My camera started having problems today. I can't take photos. When I turn it on it says "Card Error - Clean The Card Or Format Card". This is a bummer. I am glad my camera waited until the end of my hike to have problems. Hopefully I can salvage my photos from it.

I am anxiously ready for my last day of hiking. I am ready to be at Deeds Point and see Wilbur and Orville. This is where I started my hike on March 20.

If you are in Dayton tomorrow please feel free to come out and celebrate the finish with me. I will be at Deeds Point around 4:00pm rain or shine. If you can't be there put an ear to towards Dayton around then and listen for a big yell of "Off Trail".

Press Release - DaytonMostMetro.com

Link: http://www.daytonmostmetro.com/active-living/hiking-backpacking/homecoming-for-captain-blue.html

June 13 - Springfield - 25 Miles To Dayton

Courthouse in Xenia.


Today I hiked 25 miles to Springfield. I crossed the 1,400 mile mark on this journey! The weather was perfect for hiking. It was sunny, about 75 degrees and a bit breezy.

The route today was mostly on the Little Miami River bike path except for some road walking in Springfield. The trail goes through the towns of Xenia, Yellow Springs and Springfield.

I stopped in Xenia for a break. I got a cup of coffee and three Krispy Kreme donuts. It was not a healthy snack but it sure tasted good.

Twice today two bicycle riders stopped and asked me if I was practicing for a hike. They saw me with my backpack and trekking poles hiking down the bike path. They assumed I was preparing for an upcoming hike. I said "No, I am out hiking". They both were a bit surprised to learn I was hiking on the Buckeye Trail. One guy said "I have heard of the Buckeye Trail but I have never heard of anyone hiking it."

I stopped for a late lunch in Yellow Springs. I have been to Yellow Springs many times before so I didn't spend time exploring it. I recommend that hikers stop here and see the town. It is such a neat town. The Chamber of Commerce describes the town like this ... "The community is culturally diverse, values self-expression and prides itself on being open, friendly and creative." They are putting it mildly.

From Yellow Springs the trail heads north to Springfield and then turns south to Fairborn. Once upon a time the Buckeye Trail went from Yellow Springs directly to Fairborn. This new route adds about 20 miles to the journey. The current route doesn't exactly make sense to a hiker who is going from Cincinnati to Dayton.

The trail from Yellow Springs to Springfield was mostly on the bike path. The bike path ended at I-70 where the Buckeye Trail goes on roads and sidewalks to downtown Springfield. In Springfield the trails makes a turn to the south and heads to Dayton.

In Springfield the trail passes a couple of seedy taverns. I took a break on the front porch of one. A motorcycle rider came out of the tavern and noticed some feathers I was carrying on my backpack. He told me to be careful with my feathers. He said, by law, I was not allowed to possess hawk feathers unless I was a Native American or I was carrying a permit. He said I could get fined for having them. He said he had feathers at home just like mine. I thanked him for the information and said I would be careful. I did not have the heart to tell him that I had turkey feathers not hawk feathers.

Only 25 more miles to go! I am feeling that it is time to end this hike.

June 12 - Xenia - 50 Miles To Dayton

Muddy horse trail Caesar Creek State Park.


Today I hiked 24 miles to just outside of Xenia. The weather was pleasant today for a change. The temperature was in the mid 70s and there was a nice breeze. No rain. I spent most of the day in Caesar Creek State Park hiking on trails.

I got a late start from my campsite at the Day Use Lodge at Caesar Creek State Park. I was tired from hiking 30 miles the day before. I was very familiar with the Buckeye Trail for the next five miles or so since I had hiked here many times before.

The trail goes by the beach at Caesar Creek State Park. There were not too many people there for a Sunday in June. I remember coming here years ago and the place was packed with people. Today it looked more like a ghost town. Even the concession stand was permanently closed. There were lots of people on the lake in boats today. The boat ramps were very busy.

The trail past the beach goes on horse trails for about ten miles. As usual the horse trails were wet and muddy. It was miserable hiking.

I hope to meet the people responsible for routing the Buckeye Trail on horse trails in Hocking State Forest, Tar Hollow State Forest, Scioto State Forest, East Fork State Park and Caesar Creek State Park. I think they should see for themselves how bad the trail is in these areas. I would like to extend a personal invitation to lead these folks on a hike on these muddy horse trails. Perhaps after their boots got sucked off in the mud a few times they might reconsider using horse trails? (Please note that Leave No Trace principles instruct the hiker to go right through the mud and not go around it to prevent the trail from getting wider.) My guess is that the Buckeye Trail was routed on these horse trails years ago before they got bad.

I eventually left Caesar Creek State Park and hiked on roads to Spring Valley and back to the Little Miami River bike path. It was so nice to get back to flat, dry walking. I hiked about three miles on the bike path before calling it a day. I am spending the night with my mother and her husband who live in the south Dayton area.

June 11 - Caesar Creek State Park - 74 Miles To Dayton.

Beach at Caesar Creek State Park.


Today I hiked 30 miles. Not bad considering I didn't get started until 10:00am. I finished the Loveland section and started the Caesar Creek section. I am on map 26 of 26! Only 74 miles to go.

I awoke to rain this morning. Another storm rolled in and it rained steadily. I was camped right next to the bike path and could hear people coming and going as soon as it got light. The rain did not deter some bike riders, runners and walkers. It deterred me though.

Once the rain stopped it did not take long for the sun to come out and make things hot again. The bike path got much busier. Lots of people were out today.

I passed near Kings Island and could hear the sounds of people having fun. Through the trees I could see the top of one ride called the Drop Zone. This a ride that takes you up to the top of a tall tower and drops you in a free fall. I could hear lots of screams.

I passed the old Kings Powder Mill where explosives were made. The plant opened in 1878 and was acquired by the Peters Cartridge Company before WWII. Remington bought the facility and closed it down.

I stopped for a hamburger, ice cream and Mountain Dew in Morrow. I aired out my tent and rain jacket to dry them out. They were wet from the rain. The proprietor of the restaurant did not seem to mind that I used his patio chairs to dry out my gear.

On the bike path I listened to music and hiked as fast as possible. I knew I had to do a big mile day to make up for a light day yesterday. I listened to the B52's which is fast paced music. I hiked between 3.5 to 4.0 miles per hour. I passed Fort Ancient, Morgans Canoe Livery and went under I-71.

A couple of miles before Oregonia I was greeted by familiar faces. Brent and Amy Anslinger and their two young daughters came out on bikes to find me. Brent and Amy thru hiked the Buckeye Trail in 2003. They brought ice cream and a soda for me. It was good to see them and compare notes about the Buckeye Trail.

As I walked to Orgonia Brent and Amy rode their bikes. They kept me moving at a fast pace. We had supper at a restaurant in Orgonia. They offered to help me slackpack the remaining ten miles I wanted to finish today. I gave them the bulk of my backpacking gear and empty water bottles to fill and took off. They rode their bikes two more miles with me until I turned off the bike path towards Caesar Creek State Park.

They hauled my gear to the Day Use Lodge at Caesar Creek State Park. My map says this is a camping area for BT hikers. I called the Park Office earlier in the day to ask for permission to camp there but nobody answered. When I arrived at the lodge Brent and Amy were waiting for me with adult beverages and brownies.

I camped on the back porch of the lodge. It was a great place to camp. It was covered in the event of rain and had a picnic table and chairs.

I received word earlier in the day that I had been appointed to board of trustees of the Buckeye Trail Association during their quarterly meeting in Columbus. Last week I heard there was going to be a vacancy on the board. I submitted my name as a candidate and was officially appointed today. I am excited about serving on the BTA Board. I see wonderful potential for the Buckeye Trail and lots of exciting possibilities to help out. I want to hear your suggestions and complaints about the Buckeye Trail.

June 10 - Little Miami River

My campsite along the Little Miami River bike path north of Loveland.


Today I hiked about 14 miles. I am not sure how far I got as I camped along the Little Miami River bike path north of Loveland just as it got dark.

I got a late start today. I piddled around in the morning. My cousin Bob dropped me off in Milford around 12:30pm. Rain was imminent so I headed for a coffee shop in town. Sure enough the rain came. I stayed in the coffee shop until almost 2:00pm.

I started my trek north on the Little Miami River bike path at The Junction after the storm passed. There was mist and fog on the bike path from the cool rain water on the hot asphalt. It was  humid but very pleasant hiking.

I saw another backpacker today, I think. A young attractive lady in a bikini top and shorts with long flowing hair was heading south. She carried a large wooden hiking stick, a small knapsack for a pack and had a large bongo drum slung over her shoulder. We said hello to each other. I thought briefly thought about turning around and hiking with this lady as she looked to be headed somewhere fun.

I arrived in Loveland around 5:00pm after hiking about 10 miles. The town and bike path were bubbling with activity. It was a Friday evening on a summer night and everyone was outside. The ice cream shops and cafes were busy. People were out walking and riding bikes. People were having picnics in the park. I sat at a bench, drank a Mountain Dew and watched all the activity. I did not feel out of place here as Loveland has a trail town feel.

The idyllic summer scene came to a quick end when a severe thunderstorm rolled in. Lightning filled the sky and large booms of thunder caused people to flee to the indoors. A hard rain pelted the ground. In a matter of minutes just about everyone was gone except a couple of cyclists taking cover in a picnic shelter and me.

I had some ice cream and ate supper at a cafe waiting for the storm to pass. Around 8:00pm it was still raining but I resumed hiking anyway. The rain quit a few minutes later and the sun tried to come out. It never did emerge but it gave an eerie orange glow to the western sky. Water drops continued to drip from the trees as if it was still raining.

I planned to hike well past dark. But only after an hour of hiking I came across a nice spot to camp along the bike path. The spot had a picnic table covered by a roof and a gravel pad for parking bicycles. I set up my tent on the gravel pad and strung a clothe ,line above the picnic table to hang my wet clothes. A few cyclists came by. Daylight had faded as I climbed into my tent.

I reflect more and more on this journey as the end of this hike nears. At times it is almost overwhelming to think about what I have been through and experienced. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience.

A long distance hike has two aspects. There is the outer journey and there is the inner journey. I think a lot of people forget about the inner journey and focus on the outer journey instead. Many Ohioans think Ohio scenery is boring and seek out so called "more beautiful" places to hike. They focus on their outer journey. They want sights pleasing to the eye. They want to come home with photos of mountains, oceans and wildlife to show family and friends where they have been.

To me it is the inner journey that is more rewarding. Sure, I like pretty sights too but I get my kicks from how I grow, change and learn from a long distance hike. I get strength and confidence from hiking. I get a peaceful feeling and feel connected to nature. My mind and body feel so connected on long hikes. I can heal my mind by giving my body exercise. The outer journey becomes less important to me.

On the Buckeye Trail you can experience both incredible outer and inner journeys. It is all here. It has everything an adventure needs except for you. The Buckeye Trail is waiting for you. All you need to do is take that first step.

I will finish this post with one of my favorite quotes ... "Does the person make the journey or does the journey make the person?"

The Loop - News from Buckeye Trail Association



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Welcome to the "The Loop"! the BTA's E-news for the latest on Ohio's Buckeye Trail.  We want to keep you in the loop with what's going on around the 1,440 miles of Ohio's Buckeye Trail. If you would like to share with others what is happening on the BT near you with others please submit your local events, news, volunteer opportunities and experiences to theloop@buckeyetrail.org.  Thank you for your continuing support of the BTA and our mission to develop Ohio's longest scenic hiking trail. Our quarterly membership newsletter, the BTA Trailblazer, will continue to provide you with more in depth information on Ohio's Buckeye Trail. 

2011 Buckeye Trail Annual Meeting  
Fifty-seven people crowded the BTA Century Barn during the 2011 BTA Annual Meeting at on Tappan Lake from May 20-22 where the weather turned out to be beautiful. Along with delicious food and fellowship, people enjoyed a bird hike, afternoon hikes, boating on the lake, blacksmith demonstration, and a visit to the Dennison Railroad Museum. There was a lot of laughter on Friday evening during Buckeye Trail Fun Night and on Saturday evening everyone enjoyed a wonderful presentation by Paul Stutzman on his adventure and book Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail.

Missed the Annual Meeting but want to see the Barn and enjoy the company of BTA Membership?  Join us on July 16-17 at the Barn for the Annual Picnic and the first ever Buckeye Trail Olympics!
Photo by Jenny Koester
Next year, Something new is coming......

Buckeye Trail SpringFest 2012!

Mark your calendars now - April 27-29, 2012
...along the Buckeye Trail in southwestern Ohio
More details coming soon.

New Burton Section Map 
The Burton Section map is the most recent digital revision now available in the Buckeye Trail Shop thanks to hard work of your Cartography Team.  Here's a sneak peak of a portion of the indispensable map:
The Road Fork Section is next on the list, stay tuned.


Buckeye Trail Crew and the BTA Renegade Chapter Team Up 

Join the Work Party on the Historic Miami & Erie Canal Towpath June 18th-22nd


We'll be building new Buckeye Trail on the historic Towpath. Come out and help
the Crew and the BTA local Chapter knock out the last segment of unfinished BT between the communities of Florida and Grand Rapids. Experience scenic vistas of the Maumee River and the rich history of the canal era including interpretation and restored canal boat at Providence Metropark across the river from Grand Rapids. 

Photo by Joe Krueger


Visit the Buckeye Trail Events page for more details! 

Hello Southwest Ohio!

Join us for a Fort Ancient Area Hike ~ June 25th, 10:30am

This will be part of a series
of regular hikes scheduled across southwestern Ohio in an effort to get more BTA members to gather together and go hiking using parts of the BT. You don't have to   be a member to join the fun!                
We will do hikes of 2, 6, 8, and 10 miles using the BT and white blazed side trails in the Little Miami River valley near Fort Ancient (Loveland Section Map). These loop hikes will start at the ODNR parking lot on SR 350 near Morgan's Canoe Livery and will be using various trails within the valley.  There will be a variety of terrain with decent elevation changes, flat bike trail, river bottoms, and ridgeline walking. We'll have some views, ancient earthworks, the Little Miami River, the June Morgan Memorial and the Kern Effigies to guide us along our way.

Check out the BTA Events page for more details.

(Winter Fort Ancient area photo to cool you off by Darryl Smith)


North Country Trail Annual Conference coming to Dayton, August 11th-14th
The BTA is proud to host the NCTA Annual Conference in Dayton, OH, the 'Outdoor Adventure Capital of the Midwest'. The conference comes to Ohio once every seven years.  This event is co-sponsored by Five Rivers MetroParks and based at the Wright State University Campus. We'll highlight the best of the Miami Valley for our North Country visitors from New York to North Dakota, but it will be an event locals won't want to miss either.  Andrew Skurka will present his latest adventure, the Alaska-Yukon Expedition.  Bart Smith will present 'Walking Down a Dream; a photographic journey along America's National Scenic Trails.  In between our two great speakers are workshops, hikes, paddles, bikes, food, and entertainment. Registration is open, check out  www.northcountrytrail.org for more details on more than 50 great experiences over 3 days including family friendly activities!

  
WDD: National Scenic Trails Intro to Bart Smith's Walking Down a Dream
WDD: National Scenic Trails Intro to Bart Smith's Walking Down a Dream
Join us for a hike in Taylorsville MetroPark on June 18th to learn a little more about the North Country National Scenic Trail that passes right through Dayton, OH on the Buckeye Trail.


Captain Blue Hiking Thru on the BTCaptain Blue
On March 20, 2011 Captain Blue (a.k.a. Andy Niekamp) started out for a hike on the Buckeye Trail from Dayton, Ohio. The plan was to hike on the Buckeye Trail for as long as long as it was fun.  Two and half months and 1,200 miles later Captain Blue can almost smell his mom's home cooking as he nears the end.  For a day by day account and photos of a BT Thru-Hike check out his blog www.buckeyetrailhiker.com. The Captain has rediscovered Ohio and caught the volunteer bug along the way. Join Captain Blue on his return home to Dayton, OH on June 15th!

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Did you know that you can give painlessly to the BTA through American Express?  Click on their Members Give program and you will find a variety of ways to donate to the BTA.  You can make a one time donation, a recurring donation on your timeline, or donate the American Express Rewards you have earned.  Every bit helps us to achieve the mission of the Buckeye Trail Association, thank you for checking it out!
Ohio's Buckeye Trail
The Buckeye Trail was established in 1959, today it is a 1,444 mile hiking trail linking the four corners of Ohio marked by 2" x 6" blue blazes. The BT follows wooded footpaths, abandoned railroad corridors, historic canal towpaths, rivers, lakeshores, and country roads, within both rural and urban settings. The Trail provides public access to Ohio's scenic and historic diversity. The BT is open to all, made possible through the permission and cooperation of federal, state, local agencies, private landowners and the tireless work of volunteers.

Our Mission
The Buckeye Trail Association is the leader in building, maintaining, protecting and promoting use of Ohio's longest scenic hiking trail for our citizens, communities and partners. We provide outdoor recreation, opportunities to volunteer, education, access to the varied resources of Ohio and local economic benefits.




Buckeye Trail Association | PO Box 5 | Shawnee | OH | 43782

June 9 - Eden Park - 115 Miles To Dayton

Captain Blue at Eden Park in Cincinnati.


Today I hiked 25 miles to Eden Park in Cincinnati. It was another hot day with temperatures near 90. The route was on roads, bike paths and sidewalks. The day started out as a rural hike and ended as an urban hike.

I am finished with the Williamsburg section. I am now in the Loveland section. I am on map 25 of 26. I have 115 miles to go to get to Dayton!

Jenny dropped me off at the United Dairy Farmers in Batavia at 7:30am. I had breakfast and coffee there. The roads leaving Batavia were quite scenic. The trail followed an abandoned portion of Ross Road for a short distance. It felt like hiking in the woods.  Near Perintown I took a break at the UDF there. It felt good to sit inside the air conditioned store. It was an enjoyable walk from Batavia to Milford.

The trail goes through Milford. Milford is home to "The Junction" where over 22,000 miles of hiking, biking and paddling trails come together. Upon reaching Milford I felt like I had successfully made it through the Buckeye Trail in southern Ohio. In Milford I stopped in at the Roads, Rivers and Trails outfitters. I met Emily, Joe and Brian who are the new proprietors. They were very nice to me. They bought me a cold drink. I chatted with them about the Buckeye Trail and their new store. Trail Angel Suzanne stopped by with some frozen treats.

At "The Junction" the Buckeye Trail meets the Little Miami River bike path. The Buckeye Trail goes in two directions here. The northern route goes on the bike path up river towards Springfield on the main circuit. The southern route is a 13 mile spur trail to Eden Park. The southern terminus of the Buckeye Trail is in Eden Park. This is the direction I hiked. The route to Eden Park went on the bike path for a few miles but then turned into an urban walk on side walks in Cincinnati. All of a sudden I felt out of place. A backpacker in an urban area is not at common sight.

I have been to Cincinnati many times. But none of the roads or intersections looked familiar to me. It was all new territory to me.

I saw lots of people walking and jogging despite the hot weather. There was a pregnant lady across the street speed walking. I tried to keep up with her pace but she was too fast for me. I was quite impressed that she could walk so fast. She was the only walker faster than me that I saw.

The Buckeye Trail goes along Victory Lane on the way to Eden Park. There were lots of people hanging around outside in a less than desirable neighborhood. I kept my head down and kept hiking. A couple on the sidewalk ahead of me were having an argument. The lady was walking away from the man. The man was very upset and followed her. He was yelling at her, kept saying "F this" this and "F that" and was swinging his arms in the air. I decided to walk in the street around them to avoid any confrontation.

At Eden Park I was greeted by Christine Pelpys. Christine and I are backpacking friends. She live across the Ohio River in Newport, KY. She wanted to catch up with me on my journey while I was in Cincinnati. She photographed me at the sign indicating the southern terminus of the Buckeye Trail. Bob and Brenda Schwieterman, my cousins, were there too. Christine brought me three "home brew" adult beverages to enjoy. Bob and Brenda brought me soda, ice water and food.

The view from Eden Park is beautiful. From the overlook you can see the Ohio River, parts of Cincinnati and into Kentucky. We posed for photos. This is a fitting place for a terminus of the Buckeye Trail. I thought about Brent and Amy Anslinger who started and ended a Buckeye Trail thru hike here in 2003. What a great place.

Bob and Brenda took me to their home in West Chester. I will spend the night with them. I got a shower and did laundry. Brenda made a feast with chicken, rice, watermelon and salad. For desert we had ice cream. A perfect dinner for a hungry hiker.

I remember the feeling I had when I finished the Appalachian Trail for the first time in 1998. I remember cresting the summit of Katahdin in Maine and seeing the sign on Baxter Peak. Baxter Peak was the end of the Appalachian Trail and the end of a long journey for me. But getting to Baxter Peak did not feel like the end of anything for me. I kept telling myself that this is the beginning of something not the end of something. I went on to hike the Appalachian Trail end-to-end two more times.

I feel this same way about the end of my Buckeye Trail hike. Yes, this hike will end. But the end of this hike marks the beginning of something for me. Something begins when something ends.

In Milford

Triple blaze at The Junction in Milford.


As of June 9 at 2:30pm ...

I am in Milford at the Junction. Over 22,000 miles of long distance hiking and biking trails come together here.

I have run the gauntlet of the Buckeye Trail in southern Ohio and survived. It is great to be here. Today I hike south to Eden Park and reach the southern terminus of the Buckeye Trail. Tomorrow I begin hiking north on the Little Miami River bike path from here.


Map Link: http://m.google.com/u/m/z27Nkv

June 8 - Batavia

Today I hiked 20 miles to Batavia. The first twelve miles were on trail in East Fork State Park and the last eight miles were on roads. It was a very hot day. The temperature reached 95 degrees. I passed the 1,300 mile mark on this journey.
I said goodbye to Steve, Susan and Becky Miller today. They are very good hosts. I enjoyed my stay at their place. I enjoyed talking about the Buckeye Trail with Steve. He is a wealth of information on the trail.

Area below dam at East Fork Lake.

 It was nice to be hiking in the woods. It feels much cooler in the woods than on roads. The trail had various ups and downs which made hiking a bit more difficult. There were parts of the trail that were not maintained too well. But I did not get lost today. Yippie! A lot of the trail was graded which made for easier hiking. The horse trails which are normally very muddy were not too bad today. It has not rained in quite some time. It was still rough hiking on the chopped up horse trails.

The trail in East Fork State Park went by two picnic areas. The water faucets were not working at either picnic area. I was hoping to get water there. I saw a half empty water bottle on a picnic table that someone had left behind. I decided to drink the rest of it. It was warm but it tasted fine. Having enough water is extremely important in this hot weather. Without water my hike would shut down in a matter of hours. Yesterday I drank seven quarts of water during the day. Today will be about the same. At one of the picnic shelters I laid down on a picnic table and took a short nap. Taking a short nap during the hottest part of the day is part of my daily routine.

The trail emerged from the woods and went on a road over the dam at East Fork State Park. It was a scenic walk. The road crossed over a saddle dam. It was equally as scenic. The trail went back into the woods for another mile before it was all road walking to Batavia. I saw no other hikers today.

In Batavia I was picked up by Jenny Waters. Jenny is a member of Dayton Hikers. I took her on her first backpacking trip about three years ago. Since then we have been backpacking together five times. She is fun to be with. I will spend tonight with Jenny and her son Bill in Eastgate.

It is hard to believe that in one week this hike will be over. For the longest time the end of this hike was so far way. Now it is getting very close. I am both happy and sad that this hike will be over soon.
I wish I could retain my great physical shape after this hike. It will be hard to do when I return to life in surburbia. I looked in the mirror at Jenny's house. For the first time in a long time I think my shoulders are wider than my belly. No, my shoulders did not get larger on this hike. I have lost a bunch of weight on this hike. Hiking on the Buckeye Trail is a great diet and exercise plan.

June 7 - East Fork State Park

Buckeye Trail in East Fork State Park.


Today I hiked 20 miles to East Fork State Park. Half of the route was on roads and the other half was on trails in East Fork State Park. The Buckeye Trail had been relocated in the vicinity of Williamsburg. This shortened the distance between Dayton and me by 2.5 miles.

The road walking today was uneventful. It was hot as predicted. The temperature reached 90 degrees. There  was a nice breeze. The road surface was so hot in places that the tar started to bubble up. I can only imagine how hot the surface of the road is. A few weeks ago my feet were wet and muddy all day long. Now they are hot and dry. The trail has been on roads for the last 70 miles.

The trail goes through East Fork State Park. I have never been here before. I heard it was muddy, hilly and hard hiking which it was. It was also weedy and hard to follow at times. The Buckeye Trail follows the Steve Newman Perimeter Trail in East Fork State Park. Steve Newman is the only American to hike solo around the world. Steve grew up in the nearby town of Bethel. From 1983 to 1987 he hiked almost 16,000 across 21 nations on five continents. Grandma Gatewood gets the most beautiful six of miles of trail in Ohio dedicated to her. Steve Newman gets a muddy horse trail dedicated to him.

For the first time on this Buckeye Trail hike I saw another backpacker! In East Fork State Park I came across a lady sitting in the weeds in the shade. She had a dog, a pit bull, which was not on a leash. She had a military style backpack that looked like it weighed 60 pounds. Sitting on top of her backpack was a semi-automatic hand gun. She had two, full, one gallon jugs of water next to her. She looked spanked from the heat. She was not in any hurry to move. I asked if she was hiking the Buckeye Trail. She said "no" and that she was hiking the Perimeter Trail. I kept moving and left her to rest.

I got lost in East Fork State Park. Occasionally the trail came out of the woods and followed the edge of a farm field.On this occasion it did not. I came out to a large, irregular shaped farm field (just past point 11) and could not find where the trail re-entered the woods. I kept hiking along the field and looked for an opening into the woods. I could not find it. I called Steve Miller and asked for help. On his computer he pulled up the Buckeye Trail on Google Maps. He explained that I should follow a mowed path through the field. This was fine except there was no mowed path. All I could see was corn stalks from last year's harvest. I kept searching for the trail but I could not find it. To avoid getting lost I decided to backtrack to the nearest road and walk around this section. It turns out the trail went through the field for 230 yards and re-entered to woods. My eyes aren't good enough to see a 2" x 6" inch blaze from 230 yards away.


A little later in the Park I came across a guy, a young son and a dog. The dog was on a leash. The dog did not like the sight of me at all. He barked and bared his teeth at me. The guy held onto the leash with both hands to hold his dog back. The dog pulled so hard on the leash that he pulled himself out of his collar. Now there was an angry dog off the leash running at me and barking. The guy shouted commands at the dog but it did not listen. The dog made several lunges toward me and acted very aggressive. I thought that for the first time on this hike I was going to have to stab a dog with my hiking poles. I yelled to the guy and said "Get between me and the dog" which he did. He finally grabbed a hold of the dog and I walked on.

Around 8:00pm I emerged at a road to a boat ramp. Steve Miller picked me up. I had hoped to hike farther but the trail in East Fork State Park was tough and slow going. I also wanted to camp in East Fork State Park tonight. However, the weather forecast showed that 9:00pm the temperature would be 83 degrees. This is too hot for me. I accepted Steve's offer to stay another night in his house.

June 6 - Grant Lake - 185 Miles To Dayton

Hiking along Martin Hollow Road.


I hiked 23 miles today. It was another hot, sunny day of hiking. The route today was all on roads. I have finished the West Union section. I start the Williamsburg section tomorrow. I will be on map 23 of 26. The pile of maps I have yet to hike is getting quite small.

I started in Russellville today. Russellville is home to Seth Blevins, a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan on May 23, 2011. PFC Blevins was in the U.S. Army Infantry when the humvee he was riding in was struck by an improvised explosive device. He and three other soldiers in the vehicle were killed. Seth Blevins had only been in Afghanistan for a month. There are sign and ribbons everywhere all over Russellville in memory of Seth.

I have hiked out of the hills of Appalachia. The terrain is now flat. It is much easier hiking. The standard of living  has increased. I am no longer walking down windy, gravel roads with people living in run down trailers. The roads are paved, straight and the homes are nice and well kept. I am glad to be getting closer to Cincinnati.

I walked by a guy on a riding lawn mower. He saw me coming and stopped the mower to chat a bit. He asked where I was going and I replied "Grant Lake". He replied that Grant Lake was the other way. He was correct. Grant Lake was north and I was hiking south. The Buckeye Trail takes a windy route in this area which includes hiking south to get north.

I took a break at a Mennonite church this afternoon. Nobody was there. I used the outside water faucet to get water. I drank over a half gallon of water. Next to the church is a small building which serves as a meeting room. The door was unlocked so I went inside and laid down on a church pew to rest. It was a nice break from the heat.

I have noticed a change in people's reactions when I tell them I am hiking the Buckeye Trail. Early on when I had only hiked a few hundred miles people wished me good luck. They said it was wonderful that I am taking such a long journey. Now when I tell people I have hiked over 1,200 miles since March 20 they look stunned. They don't know what to say. They usually say something like "you have been out a long time".

I arrived at the Grant Lake area around 5:30pm. Steve, Susan and Becky Miller met me there. Went to dinner at the Lake Manor Restaurant. I enjoyed the all-you-can-eat salad bar. Afterward we went to an ice cream place for desert. I spending a second night at the Miller residence.

After today I only have nine more days of hiking before I arrive at Deeds Point in Dayton. Only 185 more miles to go! Wilbur and Orville are getting closer!

June 5 – Russellville

My campsite at Quinn Chapel. Notice how I pitched my tent to take advantage of the morning shade.


Today I hiked 22 miles to the town of Russellville. I left Adams county. I am now in Brown county. The route today was all on back roads.

I enjoyed my stay at Quinn Chapel. I had a couple cups of coffee in the morning in the shade of outhouse and hit the trail around 9:00am. I wish I was an early riser to take advantage of the cool temperatures in the morning.

I took a break in Bentonville. The map said there was a small grocery store there. I was looking forward to getting a cold drink and something to eat. I could not find the store. I flagged down a lady in a car and asked her where it was. She said the grocery store had closed. I was a bit disappointed but at least there was a working soda machine. I checked my wallet and only had a $5 bill. I flagged down another motorist and asked if he had change for a five dollar bill. He didn’t. But he offered to give me $1.25 to buy a soda. I accepted and thanked him. I bought a Mountain Dew. I am not normally a Mountain Dew drinker but I wanted the sugar and caffeine.

The hike today was uneventful and pleasant. The miles rolled by easily. The temperature rose to the mid 80s but it did not feel hot to me. On Suck Run Road I needed drinking water and passed by a house that had an outside water faucet with a hose. I knocked on the door to ask if I could get water. Nobody was home. I helped myself and filled up my water bottle from their hose. I hope they don’t mind.

I am noticing a change in the topography. The hills are getting smaller. The terrain is still rolling and there are ups and down but no steep climbs. The lands is starting to flatten out which is fine with me. I am seeing more farms too. The water quality of the streams is looking worse. I haven’t seen a stream in a couple of days that I would get drinking water from.

I took a short break at the 15 mile mark on Hermann Road. A truck pulled up. It was Steve Miller and his daughter Becky. They were there to help me slackpack the rest of the day and take me to their home in Bethel for the night. I knew I would meet up with Steve at some point but it was a surprise to see him. Steve is the computer guy for the Buckeye Trail Association and the section supervisor for the West Union section where I am currently hiking. I had another 7-8 miles of hiking to get to Russellville. Without my pack I was able to get there in slightly over two hours.

Steve and Becky were waiting for me in the park in Russellville. We went to their home in Bethel. Steve’s wife, Susan, had dinner waiting for us. Steve and I talked in length about the Buckeye Trail.

I am starting to feel the end of my hike getting close. I am only 10 days away from finishing on June 15. Ending this hike is starting to feel a bit strange at times. I still have plenty of miles to hike but I am feeling like I am finally getting closer to Dayton.