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?"