All the beautiful trails and views I see pictured on Instagram not only have me eager to explore area parks, they remind me that there’s a pretty impressive park with hiking trails much closer to home. Just a few miles from my front door, I can step into the woods at Wooster Memorial Park (formerly known as Spangler Park) and enjoy hiking a few moderately challenging trails.
You’d think that after 20 years here in Wooster, I’d be much more familiar with this park, but I’ve only hiked there three or four other times. The stumbling block for me is always the steep hill that leads down into the park. My knees and legs have never been able to manage climbing that hill well, and I’m always aching and puffing by the time I’m done.
But if I’m going to challenge myself to get stronger, to develop my endurance, and to prepare for a dream vacation that will involve more climbing (Scotland, I’m looking at you!), I can’t let myself be intimidated by this place.
Happily, not only was my good friend Keith willing to hike at Spangler with me today, he also brought his hiking poles, adjusted them for me, and helped me tweak how I was using them so that I could make the climbing portions of the trail less difficult for myself.
What a difference! The poles gave me more stability as well as a way to take some weight and pressure off my knees, so I found myself bounding up hilly paths with much more speed and ease than I could have imagined. And in coming down those hills, I leaned on the poles just enough to keep my balance and to prevent landing too heavily with each step.
And that’s a good thing. We chose to hike the Spangler Trail, which led us up a hill to overlook Rathburn Run (the creek running through the park), through the woods, down to the water and back and forth across the rocks, before another climb and the final steep hill to get out of the park. Whew!
The entire trek was just over 2 miles and took nearly an hour and a half, mainly because I wanted to stop frequently and take photos. When mapped on my tracking app, the route looks rather like a dragon roaring, its jaws open wide. But let me tell you, if I didn’t actually tame that dragon, I at least met its challenge in good form.
I’ll have to return this fall to enjoy all the color. And this time, I’m looking forward to it.