A hike through Great Seal State Park

I joined the great folks form Hike Ohio once again this weekend for another Sunday hike in a place I had never been before, Great Seal State Park. But first, I decided to go do an overnight at a place that is seriously on my radar as I have read some really good stuff about it, Tar Hollow State Park and it did not disappoint.

It was another long week at the office. Lots of crazy good things happening right now in the digital transformation sphere within a massive organization and all of my peers have a hand in it. Kind of one of those life era’s where what you do has a measurable, and sometimes immediate, impact. It was also a great week in the AHA Support Network where I am continually impressed by the level of empathy this community of folks, whom I am a member, holds for one another like a bright light in the dark. This is my week day life though.

So back to Saturday night under the trees. As I have written about before, I am enjoying everything about being outdoors right now. Be it walking by the river after work, running, hiking, swimming (in warm months). Short trips or longer… no matter. I spent way too many years plugged into a computer terminal both at work and at home. Every life era comes with a choice. Especially given the battle we all lose with time in the end. Life is what you have the courage to grab right now, with no regrets, square on, at all times.

One minute windstorm video

Tar Hollow State Park is an easy drive from Columbus. Nestled in beautiful Southern Ohio. An area that I am liking more and more as time goes on. I stayed at site 105 which is in a small loop of primitive campsites deep inside the park and up on a ridge that is surrounded by heavy tree cover. When I got there I was pleased to see a good deal of other tent and tarp campsites setup already. Some folks, no doubt, taking advantage of the State Forest hiking trails which I plan to check out soon enough.

One minute campfire video

I got things setup, a fire started, dinner prepped and a good book ready in quick order. As the sun dipped however the dark clouds started to roll in along with powerful winds and some steady rain. The effect of the wind felt more like those cold fronts that would come in off the planes North of Dallas when we lived there. Sustained, howling, strong. The following morning on the way out of the park I saw a ton of blow down on the roads and even encountered mature trees on the hiking path that were knocked down by Saturday nights wind. It might have been a touch dangerous but it was a unique experience to be outdoors in a windstorm like that. Of course, the temperatures dropped significantly so I slept in my long johns, gloves, knit cap and, eventually, my down jacket inside my 32-degree sleeping bag.

The drive over to Great Seal State Park took about 30 some minutes from Tar Hollow. Really pretty views of pumpkin patches, now brown corn fields, farms, small pockets of rural homes, and the still green leaves that are now starting to wax yellow and brown in some areas. The park has a history that surprised me. I was reading in 50 Hikes in Ohio by Ralph Ramey about it last week. Chillicothe was once in the running to become the State Capital of Ohio. And it was after a night of playing cards that Thomas Worthington, who went on to become a US Senator, walked out into the early morning hours and was taken by the sunrise coming up over Sugar Loaf mountain, left, and Bald Hill, right, that he proclaimed, “there is our <State> seal.” Ramey goes on to talk about the history of the times between its occupation by the Hopewell Indians, the settlers, the logging and corn liquor industry eras. It really has a colorful background.

I met the group of 18 hikers at 9:30 am on Sunday. We were all bundled up. Packs on full of water bottles, snacks with trek poles in our hands. The trail was well maintained and easy to navigate. We climbed Bald Hill, which, while strenuous, was not bad. We also went down the Shawnee Ridge and Sand Hill Trails. At one high point, I think our guide said it is the highest point in all of Ohio, there was a set of outdoor furniture setup, complete with a table, chairs and a wooden bench swing. Who set all that up? More power to you folks. There’s nothing like walking through groves of trees though and feeling the crisp autumn air in your lungs while being bathed in golden green sunlight through the canopy. It was, in a word, perfect. Only more so because of the camaraderie in meeting new folks, seeing folks from past hikes, sharing stories and a little bit of outdoor effort in climbing the hills and hopping tree branches, rocks and blow downs from the previous night together.

Next week I have a tricky conflict. My niece is getting married and I am going to try to squeeze in one more Sunday hike in Zaleski with another Hike Ohio organizer. It’s an 8-mile trek in an additional State Forest I have not visited. One which was provisioned by a Polish exile who invested in the Zaleski Mining Company, the town of Zaleski, and, of course, Zaleski Furnace fueled by the ample timber growing in the area. So, here’s hoping it’s not a morning wedding… otherwise that could become a difficult choice.

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