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.