Monday, September 19, 2011

A Walk in the Woods

Every year, the Akron park system has a Fall Hiking Spree. There are something like 15 parks, and  if you walk a trail in at least eight of them, you get a badge to put on your hiking staff. I did that about 15 years ago, skipped a few years and started again on the Sunday after 9/11/01, as did about half the population of the Akron area. I think we all wanted to get away from TV and newspapers and find comfort in nature. The parks are all beautiful. Some have ponds, some take you along the Cuyahoga River, some take you through gorges and up hills to viewing platforms. The trails are not paved, and some run along board walks over boggy areas. Some trails are 1 mile, some are three miles. You can see flora and fauna. As the fall progresses you go from deep green forests of late summer to the gold and red of autumn. It starts right after Labor Day and runs through November, I think. There are families with babes in strollers, grandparents and lots of interesting dogs. It's a wonderful thing to do on a golden afternoon. You  cannot stop smiling.
I have not done this for a number of years, starting when I had a bum hip and had it replaced. I coulda and shoulda. Then I had that hip break and that put me off again. This year I decided to give it a try, perhaps not going enough to get another badge to add to my measly collection, but just to see how, or if, I could manage at least a mile. Yesterday, a gorgeous day of blue sky, puffy clouds and sunshine, Sally, John and I went off to Goodyear Park, along with a lot of other people. Sally has done this for years and her hiking staff has a nice bunch of colorful badges. She usually gets it all done by either late September or early October. John has done it for years, too, but he never bothers to get the badges. This spree has been going on for over forty years and you'll see people with that many badges on their staffs.
I didn't take my hiking staff, but instead used my German walking sticks. They are basically ski poles, but you'll see many people in Germany using them for walking, so I bought myself a pair the last time I was there. They give you upper body motion while you are walking along and help when you get to a hill. Unfortunately, I forgot to change my shoes, and realized that I still had my Crocs on - not a good thing to hike in. However, I managed to make the whole 1.4 mile walk, with a couple of bench sits in there.That's the most I've walked in a long time. Sally has promised to take me along on a few other ones, mainly the ones rated 1, which means that there are no big hills and that are usually the shorter ones. I'll miss a couple of my old favorites, but no need to push it, I always say. I remember seeing these really ancient people in the Lake District in England climbing up these practically perpendicular fells. They appeared to have calves of steel, and will probably never need a hip replacement.
One of the perks of this hiking thing is that you can have ice cream after. Yesterday we had frozen custard from Strickland's, an Akron institution with a secret ingredient which makes their custard very popular hereabouts, even for those who haven't just walked 1.4 miles. But if you have, you feel ever so noble and deserving.

1 comment:

Expat Hausfrau said...

Yay! Will this still be going on when I come back to Kent a week before T-giving? So glad you're doing this. Ohio nature is a marvel, especially this time of year.