About Me

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Columbus, Ohio, United States
A project manager by day, but an outdoor enthusiast 24/7. Desired profession....KAYAKER! My boats include a red 14' Wilderness Systems Capehorn, an orange 11.5' Dagger Blackwater, and a lime green Dagger Approach 9'. One more boat and I think I qualify as a livery. My other toys include a Specialized Allez Sport road bike and a Jeep Wrangler to hold 'em all!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Winter Hike in Caesar Creek State Park - December 2010

Caesar Creek State Park - Wilmingtown, Ohio (SW Ohio)
Temps expected in the low 30's/upper 20's.
Snow accumulation of 2-3 inches expected.
Trail:  11+ miles of the yellow-blazed Perimeter Loop Trail

This trail traveled around the southern third of the Caesar Creek Lake crossing the lake using state route 73.  It is believed to be comprised of the 7.2 mile Visitor Center Trail on the West side of the lake and the 4.3 mile Spillway Trail on the East side of the lake.  Caesar Creek Lake is a 2,830-acre lake with unlimited horsepower. 

Caesar Creek SP Nature Center driveway
We parked the cars across the street in the Pioneer Village parking lot

I have not hiked in the Winter more than a stroll of a mile or so. I don't know why as the trails are less crowded and there are no bugs.  So when I heard that Columbus Outdoor Pursuits would be backpacking Caesar Creek State Park in Southwestern Ohio only an hour away, I decided I'd go.  Even prior to the snow forecast, the trip changed to hiking and camping at the park campground instead of backpacking and pitching tents out on the trail .  I had to skip out on the camping and head home but it sure looked like a lot of fun.  I'll have to catch the next Winter backpacking event. 

Caesar Creek SP Campground - Yes some camped!
Dusting of snow at 10:30 AM....around 2+ inches fell that day.

Many people don't realize that while there are many resources out there about various trails and facilities, more times than you would think the trail mileage, trail conditions, and facilities are not accurate or are confusing.  You never know what you'll encounter.  Most backpackers and hikers have the adventurous spirit and so embrace the uncertainty and unknown.  The plan was about 9 miles of hiking...maybe up to 11 miles.  After about 11+ miles of following the yellow blazes Perimeter Loop Trail (and a few side excursions) spirits were still good, but the end was uncertain. 

Waterfall & Bridge Crossing

Hikers in their "hunter" orange. 
Passed several hunters along the way.

View of Caesar Creek Lake from near the
Furnas Shores boat ramp off SR 73

State Route 73 bridge over Caesar Creek Lake

let it snow...let it snow...let it snow

Darkness was within sight and the air was getting chillier.  The taste of hot cider back at the main tent was on every one's mind.  While it looked promising to just keep on moving and Pioneer Village parking lot where the cars were would be just around the corner, the group came upon a broken cable bridge.  A moment of concern likely flashed in a few minds, but the unexpected obstacle fueled my adrenaline junkie spirit.  Broken bridge....not broken spirit.  After scouting up and downstream, the best solution was to cross the creek near the old bridge particularly since finding the trail again on the other side from any other crossing would prove challenging with darkness falling.  Not really terribly treacherous in comparison to Man vs Wild (love that show), the rock crossing would be slick and a wrong move could bruise a butt and perhaps an ego.  Additionally, the uncertainty of the end of the trail made the thought of getting one's feet wet a tad concerning.  Water went over the top of my boots, but my feet still stayed warm perhaps because of the wool socks.  Thanks to George for moving several large rocks to provide extra steps for us as we all managed to cross the creek safely with his assistance as well.  Carmen, a furry four-legged Katrina survivor, was the last hold out as she was a bit nervous but eventually was coaxed across the water. 

Creek we had to cross

Cable Bridge out...crossing the creek the "old-fashioned" way

After about another half mile or so of hiking past the creek crossing, a sign for "Pioneer Village 1  mile" was a pleasant site in the darkness.  I was secretly disappointed that the adventure was coming to an end.  All in a days work though.  The jury is still out, but I think we hiked 13-14 miles that day...the most I've ever hiked in one day.  Thank goodness my day pack was light and not the full 35+ pound backpack.  Many will think we're crazy, but I cannot begin to explain the feeling of trekking across this beautiful land....in any season.  The weight of the world is a million miles away when the snow flakes settle on your nose out in the middle of acres of a beautiful state park. 

View of the tail waters of Caesar Creek from the Dam

View of Caesar Creek Lake from the Wellman Meadow Area


Many thanks to Lisa for the warm wool gloves.  I would not have kept my spirits up with cold fingers.  Wool gloves (or skier's gloves) are on my Christmas list!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Paddling Big Darby Creek - November 2010

Big Darby Creek within Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park
Southwest Franklin County, Ohio (just outside Columbus)

Temp:  41 degrees and sunny
Flow:  ~250 cfs
Depth:  3 feet
Put-in:  Alkire Road ODNR Canoe Access (river left)
Take-out:  Osprey Lake (river right, just past Trapper Johns & Harrisburg-Georgesville Road Bridge)
Mileage:  6 miles 
Time:  1430 - 1600
Boat:  Dagger Approach 9

Some may say I'm crazy, but if the sun is shining I'd rather be outside.  Since it is hard to paddle through ice, I thought I'd better get out today before the snow falls.  My attire:  sliding shorts, rash guard shirt, neoprene socks, keens, shorty wet suit, long sleeve running shirt, running pants, rain pants, paddling jacket, neoprene gloves, hat, ear band, sunglasses, and a life jacket.  I was warm the entire trip except for my hands were a little chilly most of the trip and my right foot got cold at the take out since I had to step into the water to exit the boat.  I think I need liner gloves in conjunction with the neoprene gloves.  That or stuff hand warmers in them. 

It's no secret to my friends that the Big Darby Creek is my favorite river.  Perhaps it is because its the first river I paddled with my very own kayak over 5 years ago.  Or perhaps its because it is so close.  Or maybe it is because I see something interesting and different every time I paddle it.  Many friends have tagged along with me on this river.  I love sharing this river and seeing their excitement.  I love to paddle it fast, paddle it slow, paddle in the cold weather, paddle with a cold beer.  As my license plate cover says, "I'd Rather Be Kayaking".

Beautiful River

So peaceful....funny no one was out paddling today

5 mile bridge...otherwise known to my friends as "we're almost there bridge"

A few relatively small rapids near the end of the trip

Trapper John's Canoe Livery (river left)...almost to the take out point

Take out point, river right, just past the Harrisburg-Georgesville Bridge

Although there are a few put-in and take-out points on the Big Darby Creek, I do tend to paddle the 6 miles from the Alkire Road ODNR Canoe Access Point to Osprey Lake.  If I'm flying solo, I will drop my yak off at the put-in, drive to the take-out, and jog/walk/bike back to the put-in spot.  It's about 3.5-4 miles to jog/walk as I cut through the Metro Park trails.  Biking is about a 9 mile road trip as you cannot cut through the Metro Park (unless you want to carry your bike about 1-1.5 miles).  I hold my breath hoping no one messes with my gear (life jacket, paddle, etc).  I do lock my yak up to the sign, but I cannot lock up the gear really.  If I bike I have to return to get my bike that is locked to the sign.  Total time from garage and return is 4-5 hours with about 1.5 hours paddling on the river depending on the flow.

Generally before I leave the house, I check the USGS Real Time Water Data to see the river level and the flow (speed) of the river.  Today it was about 250 cubic feet per second (cfs), which is above the normal for this time of year.  I wouldn't recommend paddling if the flow is less than 100 cfs and the height is less than 1 foot.  I've paddled the Big Darby when it was around 3,000 cfs....THAT WAS FUN!  Perhaps on the verge of being a little too intense even for adrenaline junkies like me.  I feel like I own this river.  That or the Big Darby Creek owns me yet takes care of me too...brings me peace even at its wildest and even at my craziest. 

I scouted the river levels online debating which boat to bring, the sleek but somewhat tippy 14 foot red WS Capehorn, the stable and steady 11.5 foot orange Dagger Blackwater, or the exciting and adventurous 9 foot lime green Dagger Approach.  So this trip I took my new 9 foot Dagger Approach yak out as I thought there would be a lot of rapids. When I got to the put-in I momentarily wished I would have brought my Cape Horn as the river just wasn't flowing like I thought it would be.  Excitement won out though and the need to break in my newest boat.  And she didn't let me down.  It was her 2nd river trip and I think she's ready for the next adventure.  Perhaps the Rocky Fork/Paint Creek or the Spring rapids of the Sandusky River.  We'll see...Spring seems so far off. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

John Bryan State Park - September 2010

I had heard about John Bryan State Park not too far from Columbus but hadn't visited there until this summer.  Hiked the North Rim trail and John L. Rich trail (~3+ miles roundtrip from the Wingo Picnic area parking lot).  There were tons of people out on this sunny weekend afternoon.  I'd like return to hike the South Gorge Trail and mountain bike the 8.5 miles of mountain biking trail.  Just a few pictures below. 

View from ground level!

Typical uneven path along the North Rim Trail

Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle

Little Miami River (I paddle this river but
further below where there is much more water!)

Hocking State Forest Rappelling - November 2010

Located off Big Pine Road near Conkles Hollow
What could be more fun than hanging from a rope about a 100 feet in the air with little more than a tiny but sturdy carabiner, belay device, and a harness?  Had I known rappelling would be sooo much fun I would have surely gone air assault while in the Army.   Thanks to Chris, our amazing instructor, for volunteering his own time on a gorgeous 70 degree November day to teach us "the ropes". 

Notice the people which puts the height
of the rock formation in perspective


Beautiful rock outcroppings of the rappelling area
More beautiful rock outcroppings

Bottom of the 100+ foot vertical descent

Buckeye Trail (blue blazes) goes right past rappelling area

The Buckeye Trail passes right by the rappelling area, which is less than 3 miles north of Old Man's Cave (part of Hocking Hills State Park).  Most people start at Old Man's Cave and hike south through Old Man's Cave to Cedar Falls for a 6 mile loop (and sometimes on to Ash Cave to form a 10 mile loop).  But if you're looking to avoid the crowds you could hike North/West toward the rappelling area or even start from the rappelling area and hike towards Old Man's Cave for a more secluded hike.  Athough I have not hiked this other than a few hundred feet in from the rappelling area to snap a few photos, I'll be back to explore this portion of the blue blazes Buckeye Trail.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Amish Sawmill in operation - Wellington, Ohio

Yeah, this is not an outdoor activity that I partake in, but it was pretty interesting to see an Amish Sawmill in operation.  So I wanted to share.  My parent's neighbors hired the Amish to clear some trees on their property.  Dad and I rode the golf cart out back to the edge of the property line to view the setup.  They're up working around 6am, lunch at 10:30, quitting time at 2.  The work horses stay on the property for the 3 month duration of the project.   They kind of remind me of the Budweiser Clydesdale horses, but hauling logs instead of beer.

Per request, the pic of the horse (on left) sticking tongue out

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hiking Conkle's Hollow State Nature Preserve - October 2010

3.5 miles total
*2.5 mile rim trail loop
*1 mile out-and-back gorge trip
*Maximum Elevation:  970 feet
*Vertical Rise:  230 feet
Sunny, 80's

Conkle's Hollow State Nature Preserve is within the Hocking Hills region of southeast Ohio.  While the rim trail is a great hike, you really must also travel the easy 1/2 mile along the gorge trail to the end.  Continue on the non-paved portion of the trail towards the end to truly experience the beautiful gorge area.  There really were no waterfalls this time, but I'm sure I'll be back, though, to explore this area with the Spring rains.  I recommend starting your hike on the east rim trail as the steep climb up does not have nearly as many steps as the west rim trail.  Then end with the gorge trail as this part was truly a treat.  The entire 3.5 mile hike including stopping for a picnic lunch and picture taking took about 2 hours but I do hike fast even with a small pack and heavy camera.

Amazing views!
Directions from Columbus (although I came from a different way this time and Garmin didn't recognize Conkle's Hollow for some reason):  Take 33 southeast out of Columbus.  About 10 miles past Lancaster on Rt 33, turn right onto route 374.  After about 13 miles, turn left onto Big Pine Road (just after Cantwell Cliffs and Rock House).  Conkle's Hollow is 0.2 miles on the left with plenty of parking (on the grass if needed as about 20+ cars were overflowing the day I went).  Note that dogs are specifically prohibited on both the rim and gorge trail.  The gorge trail is paved most of the way (except for the very end) making it accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.  There are pit toilets and picnic tables at the entrance as well.  Enjoy the pictures!

Gorge Trail
Rim trail

Gorgeous area!
Once on top of the rim trail, the hike is fairly easy. 

Very end of gorge trail

Plenty of rock outcrops to park yourself and enjoy the view or have a picnic!
(Between about 1/2 mile to 3/4 miles  into the east rim trail there were plenty of these)

I love this picture!  It reminds me that winter is around the corner.