Today brought an opportunity to return to the Hocking Hills region for another training hike. I went out with another group from Hike Ohio, which I am quickly beginning to really enjoy. It’s just a great group of people doing what they love. It reminds me of running races only it’s sort of the opposite experience. No one is running and everyone is talking to one another sharing stories and information about the experience. While this may be the way I did racing, I found that I would “zone out,” listen to my breath and count the miles toward the goal. Both hiking and running are wonderful experiences, but like I said, I am really enjoying the company of others at this stage in my life.
As we were gathering early in the morning before all the family cars arrived, the resident Naturalist told us about Grandma Gatewood. That she was basically the mother of the ultralight movement as she decided to “go for a walk” one day with just a potato sack, a pair of Keds and a shower curtain for shelter. He also talked about the actual man whom the Old Man refers to as the trail’s namesake. Some crazy old guy who chose to live out here with his dog away from society. There are some days when I feel the same way I suppose.
The time came to head out and we all single filed through the walk ahead though. We hiked around 7.5 miles of the Old Mans Cave tail networks. Climbing roughly 2000+ ft elevation gains under mostly cloudy skies in Ohio summer humidity. It was a pretty beautiful way to get in a workout. We came upon a lake where Dan, our hike leader, talked about how he and his dad would come out to this spot when he was as young as 15. I thought that addition was really great. Something that I think Brené Brown would have smiled at. The courage to share. Make it personal.
It’s funny though, as a white guy, I kept noticing how white everyone on the trails were. That is, with the lucky exception of my hiking crew. We had a handful of different nationalities. I really enjoyed the diversity and shared perspectives. I mean, come on, what’s not to love about a guy named “Yoga?” Or the Hispanic women who were laughing and having a ball together bringing in the rear of our troop? This was quite possibly one of the best-organized hikes I’ve been on to date. An experience I hope to repeat.
Next up? I am planning a solo shakedown hike and overnight at Lake Vesuvius. This trail has been on my radar after having done months of research and watching others guys YouTube hiking videos which, since I am not a Boy Scout type, have been equal parts education and entertainment in some ways. It’s also a hike that my tattoo artist Andy Johnson told me about last year, no doubt to keep my mind off my back. Anyway, this will be a tent camping trip since I am still working on my knots, but there will be a fire at night so I am looking forward to reading at the end of the day while sparks float gently upwards into the summer night air.
It’s funny, this whole goal of hiking through the Olympics, and the training involved to get there, is making for an exceptionally memorable summer. I can’t help but close this blog by stating, again, how grateful I am to be alive. Enjoying the once unrealized possibility of returning to the outdoors. Life is good.