Category Archives: Hiking

Time to Volunteer on the Buckeye Trail


The hubs and I set out this morning to volunteer on the Buckeye Trail. We are “trail adopters”. That means we maintain a portion of the Buckeye Trail.

Leesville Lake

What’s the Buckeye Trail?

The Buckeye Trail is a 1444 mile blue blazed trail around the state of Ohio. The Buckeye Trail winds around Ohio, reaching into every corner of the state. It is a large loop, from a beachhead on Lake Erie, to a hill top overlooking the Ohio River.

What’s a trail adopter and what does it mean to maintain a portion of the trail?

A trail adopter is a person/persons who cares enough about hiking that anyone hiking that section of trail with have an enjoyable experience on that section. This means the off-road adopter hikes the trail at least 3 or 4 times a year to ensure blazing is accurate and clear, and the trail is not obscured by greenery and briars.

Obscured Blaze

Hiking after a big storm is helpful to make sure deadfall is removed.



What about road sections?

Some sections of the Buckeye Trail are complete roads. Sometimes the road can be more isolated than a trail section. Road sections should be hiked or driven once a year to make sure blazes are still clearly seen.

Good Excuse for a Hike

Maintaining a section of trail is a good excuse to get outside!  Our  trail in the Bowerstown Section, Leesville Lake South, is a beautiful off road section.   We encountered some homeowners as we passed through, and they thanked us for maintaining the trail.

Homemade sign

The summer storms have been kind to our section. We do need to return with a small handsaw to take care of some branches, but the trail is in good hiking shape through here. Come out and hike around Leesville Lake!

Buckeye Trailfest Report

Buckeye Trailfest


Getting to Hocking Hills is the hardest part. I left home with plenty of time. I was planning on stopping at a pastry shop in Logan and getting coffee. Then I realized I was in New Lexington, which was east of where I wanted to be.

There’s no easy shortcut across southern Ohio. Luckily I drive on curvy backroads. My time window was getting shorter-no stop in Logan, or Shawnee, or even making it to Camp Oty Okwa for the bus. I pulled into the parking lot at the Old Man’s Cave just in time to lead my hike.

Grandma Gatewood Hike

My hikers were not happy that I had never been on the Grandma Gatewood Trail. Hey, nobody asked me if I had experience in the area, familiar with the trail, or anything like that. It was more, “can you lead a hike on this day?”

Photo by Michelle

I think they gradually got over it. Once out of the the Lower Falls area and heading toward Cedar Falls, there wasn’t anywhere else to go. However, leading a hike is like herding cats. You do have to cover so much distance, in so much time. Some folks wanted to stop for lunch. Others wanted to hurry up in order to start another hike. We got to our “Fun Bus” only about forty minutes late.

Unplanned Gorge Rim Trail Hike

Our bus tried to turn around to pick up stranded hikers. It wasn’t the best place to turn around.

Photo by Michelle

After being stranded for a bit and getting bored, Michelle, T, and I decided to walk back to Cedar Falls, and take the Gorge Trail back to Old Man’s Cave, where our vehicles were parked.

That was fun! The Gorge Trail is a non-technical trail which parallels Grandma Gatewood-on TOP of the Gorge. It was nice and relaxing and a good time to stretch out the legs for this hike. I believe we ended up with about ten miles for the day.

gorge trail


My presentation on tents and stoves went well. It was a small group, as it was a beautiful day to be out hiking. There was a funny moment when someone wandered over and said “you can’t put up your tent here!” before she realized we were just doing a demo.

Saturday Presentation was on hiking technology apps. This went over okay, Derrick from the North Country Trail Association, helped me out by letting me use his computer for my presentation, since I was missing an adapter-thanks Derrick!

Trailfest Attendance

This Buckeye Trailfest was also the annual get together for the North Country Trail Association. The North Country Trail and the Buckeye Trail run concurrently for about 800 miles in Ohio. Trailfest was at least twice as large as it is normally with the two groups!

Annual Meeting

I will say it again, it was clever marketing to reframe the “annual meeting” to “Buckeye Trailfest”. Who wants to write “annual meeting” on their calendar when you can write “Trailfest”?


Trailfest Takeaways

Be prepared to be flexible and patient.

The hikes will always take longer than advertised or scheduled.

Don’t try to hike all the hikes. Give yourself some down time, go to a presentation or two.

Bring a snack and an extra water for each day. You probably won’t be eating on your regular schedule and might burn an extra calorie or two.

Think about giving a presentation for next year! Jot down an idea or two, or a topic that came up.

Prepping for Buckeye Trailfest

Whew! I’ve been prepping for Buckeye Trailfest 2018! Last year, I attended my first  Buckeye Trailfest. This year, I am an active participant at Trailfest!

Buckeye TrailFest

What is the Buckeye Trailfest?

Buckeye TrailFest is the largest annual gathering of BT hikers, volunteers, members and enthusiasts. On April 25-29, 2018, we are proud to host our friends from all along the North Country National Scenic Trail for the Annual North Country Trail Celebration! All this during the peak of spring wildflowers and waterfall flow in the heart of Ohio’s Hocking Hills at Camp Oty’Okwa!”


I am giving two presentations for Buckeye Trailfest. One is called Presentation: Technology for the Buckeye and North Country Trail Hiker” I call it  “Map Apps for the Cell Phone” and the second is “Hands-On Workshop: Newby Guide for an Overnight Hike”.

Map Apps for the Cell Phone

A presentation last year about GPS for hiking led to thinking, what about us newby folks who don’t even know there are hiking apps out there? It seemed like it would be a good over-winter project, I would learn a bunch about hiking apps. My presentation was approved, so whoops, gotta get something down in writing!

I decided to focus on a few free apps. As a total newby myself, I can’t see shelling out money for an app I may not understand and then not use!

I’ve been working on my slide presentation. This is available now on

How to Set Up a Tent

The official title is ” “Hands-On Workshop: Newby Guide for an Overnight Hike”. I’m not sure how I am going to do with time constraints. I was originally going to set up three tents. Since I can’t locate the third tent (I may have given it away) I went with the two tents.

Learning curve! I got the tents out to see how long it would take me. The first attempt took about 40 minutes! Yikes! I forgot everything!


I have two tents. The green tent is a REI One Passage. It weighs about three pounds. I don’t know if I would backpack with this, it’s a little heavy. It’s fine to car camp, and probably do an overnight bike.

The second tent is pretty cool, it’s a Tensegrity from Sierra Designs, a light weight design. I had a bit of a learning curve with using the hiking poles as part of the tent design, but after the third set up, I felt pretty confident.

You Tube is your Friend

This was a good video to watch to help set up my  Tensegrity tent

This video was also helpful

Sierra Design tent



I have a few stoves to show how they work.

I got my ancient Jet Boil out to make sure it still functioned. Yep! Fired right up! Check! A Jet Boil is not something you most likely would like to schlep on a long hike, but it’s great for campground cooking. Heats water in less than one minute!

Rocket Stove

This is the rocket pocket MSR stove. As you can see, it fits in the palm of your hand, and will fit into a pocket. It uses the can fuel just like the Jet Boil does. Combine the MSR rocket with a can of fuel, this would be far better to backpack with.

Solo Stove

For those hikers who don’t want to carry fuel with them, consider the Solo Stove. You fuel this stove with Mother Earth-small pieces of wood and dry grass.

Once you have your fire going, the ring on the right goes on top, then your pot goes on that. You keep feeding wood chips/branches/twigs into the large opening on the ring.

The instructions do say you will need a wind screen around this. I set this up in my driveway, when it was windy, and it took a bit to get the fire going.

Considerations with Solo Stove: ability to find dry kindling. It takes much longer to get water to boil versus the MSR and Jet Boil, but you don’t have to carry fuel along with you. You can buy an alcohol burner which contains denatured alcohol (which weighs far less than the canned fuel) that fits into the Solo Stove as a back up.


I am leading a hike on Thursday, the Grandman Gatewood Hike! This six mile hike will take us past  Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls and Ash Cave! This section is part of Buckeye Trail, North Country Trail and American Discovery Trail.


The weather is looking “okay” for Buckeye Trailfest. I’m looking forward to getting outside after this snowy spring we’ve been having!

Are you coming to Buckeye Trailfest? Why not?

Buckeye Trail Section Hike Belle Valley Pts 26 to 23

Belle Valley Section

I knew December 20th was going to be a mild temperature day so I got myself out the door to hike a bit of the trail somewhat close to me,  the Belle Valley section of the Buckeye Trail

Belle Valley Ohio

Belle Valley, Ohio, population 210 from the 2016 census. Very small village, with a gas station, two gun/hunting/fishing type stores, post office, bar. Belle Valley had its start when the Cleveland and Marietta Railroad was extended to that point.  The Village of Belle Valley was incorporated in 1905.

I parked at Wolf Run State Park and walked west, thru Belle Valley to Valley Road, Township Road 60. I then retraced my steps back to the park where the off road section begins.

Belle Valley Interstate 77 Bridge

Belle Valley Church

Belle Valley BT North Country Trail Temporary Corridor

The North Country Trail Marker “temporary corridor” doesn’t look too temporary to me. Wolf Run State Park Dam

This section of the Buckeye Trail meanders around the western shore of Wolf Run State Park Lake. I guess that is it’s name? Yep, Wolf Run Lake, I just checked.

Lake View Wolf Run State Park

It’s a pretty trail, non technical, but with a bit of up and down as you follow the trail around the west side of the lake.

No More out and Backs for Me

I’m pretty grumpy this first half of the hike. All I know is I’m walking to Point 23, whereupon I’m going to turn around and go back the same way I came. Yes, the trail will look different coming from the other direction..but I’m still grumpy.

I get to the Group Camp area, which is Point 24, and debate going on. If I am serious about section hiking the Buckeye Trail, then that will be a section I will have to make up on another day…so I go on.

At the turn around, I get my water bottle out of my pack, and also eat my pear. This gives me a little cheer, and I am in a better mood on the way back to my vehicle.

I hiked about ten miles, it was a good day to be outside!

Buckeye Trail Miles: Belle Valley Points One to Five


Taking November 24 off as a vacation day, I decided to Opt Outside and get more of the Buckeye Trail hiked. The Buckeye Trail wanders fairly close to where I live, so it will be easier for me than some folks to hike the BT.


My hike on Black Friday.


My husband dropped me off at Point One on the Belle Valley Section. He was going to go do all his grocery shopping, then meet me at Point Five in Salt Fork State Park. (I wanted him to meet me before Point Five, as I’ve already hiked up that big hill numerous times, but oh well.)



I found it interesting that Point One to Point Two are considered “off road” because it’s a private road that the BT is blazed up. Nope, it’s still a road that I hiked on.buckeyetrailhike

It was a quiet day in the country. About five cars passed me. Two loose dogs, but old boys, who didn’t leave their yards to woof at me. Sunny skies but windy.optoutsidehike

Points 1-3 were “new to me” as I hadn’t been in this area before. Ohio is a pretty state, even in our brown stage of fall. I enjoyed my solitary walk.

I’ve walked Point 4 to 6 before, so my last two miles were familiar. As I entered Salt Fork State Park, and started up the steep hill, here came my vehicle down the hill! Perfect timing, I don’t have to hike that hill!

5.2 more miles hiked,  about 1336 miles to go!

My Buckeye Trail Miles

Buckeye Trail Miles


I am going to hike the entire Buckeye Trail. Let’s put a date on it-that turns a dream into a goal.

“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.”-Greg S. Reid

Let’s go with October 2020.

All the Buckeye Trail Maps

I bought ALL the Buckeye Trail section maps. I was dithering around trying to figure out what sections I would next reasonably get to-and then thought, oh just go for it, get them all!

Buckeye Trail Maps

Section Hiker

A section hiker is just what it sounds like. I will hike the trail in little parts. These little miles will end up being big miles over the next few years. 1440  miles is many miles to cover. There are less than twenty thru hikers of the Buckeye Trail-meaning hikers who walked the entire distance in one push.  I will be a section hiker.

Miles Completed

One rainy fall morning, I opened my maps and perused sections that I knew I had covered distance on.

What Counts

For my BT Section hike, I am counting all the BT miles I have covered on foot power. That would exclude car rides and bike rides*. This would include my former running career-hence why I have covered 100 100.5 miles of the Buckeye Trail already!

Mostof my miles completed  from my 2009 Burning River 100 Race that I DNF’d- did not finish the race.  I do remember seeing the blue blazes on many of the road miles in the Willoughby area.

Akron Section Completed

Akron Section-going over the map, I’ve completed it! Back in the day, I ran bunches on the Towpath Trail and in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

More Miles

I have covered about 12 miles in the Burr Oak State Park when I ran the inaugural Bobcat Trail Marathon. I have  4 miles on the Leesville Lake North and South where we have performed trail maintenance, and 7 miles on the Salt Fork section in Belle Valley. I picked up some more miles when we hiked on the last day of winter in the Seneca Lake area.  There was a few miles when we worked over at Piedmont Lake also. I hiked the loop around Lake Glendenning in 2017

Surprising Find

Buckeye Trail on my Road


The Buckeye Trail went by my former house. One road to our south, then on my old road, Jones Road,  up Breyenton Road. I don’t remember seeing a blue blaze on these roads.   Isn’t that funny? I have jogged down my road, to the end, so I am counting that 0.5 mile as closer to my completion of the BT.

Buckeye Trail Maps


*There has been an interesting proposal about recognition of  completion of the Buckeye Trail.  Randall Roberts, of the Crooked River Chapter, has a proposal where one could complete the Buckeye Trail by muscle power-whether that is on foot, bike, skating, skiing. The correct terminology would probably be “I completed a circuit Trip of the Buckeye Trail” vs a person who hiked, on foot as “I completed a circuit hike of the Buckeye Trail”.

Where am I on this? Undecided. If I add my *biking* miles on the Ohio to Erie Towpath, I gain more miles. I could also bike a bunch of miles this winter on the southeast Ohio road sections of the Buckeye Trail.

How many miles have you logged on the Buckeye Trail?





Step Out of Your Comfort Zone Go Mushroom Hunting

Go Mushroom Hunting

I have wanting to learn more about mushrooms and how to properly identify the edible ones. I found via the Wilderness Center that there was a mushroom hunting class to be held in Northern Ohio.

It has been a dry (about drought like conditions) in Ohio for the month of October. There was one night of rain, so we were hopeful that some mushrooms would pop up.

There were about 14 hopeful mushroom hunters that showed up at West Branch State Park. We went on a two hour slow hike, finding mushrooms and having Don King identify them for us.

The following four pictures are puffballs. I did not realize the same mushroom could look so different!

It was a beautiful afternoon to spend in the woods. In Ohio, most state parks permit mushroom hunting, but it is suggested you check out your own area to hunt.

Don brought along two other varieties that we did not find today. I don’t remember what the white mushroom is:

but this is chicken of the woods. This mushroom had a bright yellow underside. Chicken of the woods has either a yellow or a white underside.

More pictures from our hunt. Note, these are not edible at all, they just came out as cool pictures.

Don also cooked up a tasting of the mushrooms on a portable grill right at the park, but we left since we still had a good drive home.

Overall, my husband and I really enjoyed our mushroom hunt by Don King. He offers more mushroom hunts and even an overnight mushroom hunting weekend.

Interested in mushroom  hunting? Find a reputable hunter in your area. The internet is your friend here.You may have a mushroom society in your state. There could be mushroom hunting groups in your backyard!

Do you eat wild mushrooms? Do you have a mushroom identification book to recommend?