After the last farmers’ market of the season last Saturday, the weather was so warm and beautiful that I wanted to bask in the sunshine while still being lazy. My hiking buddy Keith, however, decided he wanted to go for a long bike ride, and he thought the County Line Trail would be a good place for it.
I don’t ride, so I waved him on his way, asking him to report back on walking conditions for the rest of the trail. I expected most of the trail to be the level, paved, two-lane path we had already encountered, but there was one section that, on the trail map, looked like it would follow the country road (with no shoulder for foot traffic) instead.
When we met up again that evening, he reported that the next mile of the trail did, indeed, head out on the road and was, therefore, not ideal for walking. As for the rest, he said, it was much like the section we had already hiked and was, in fact, even less interesting in terms of scenery. (He can be such a cynic sometimes.) I insisted, though, that I would want to finish hiking the trail, just to say I’d done it and to check another hiking goal off my list.
So today, after spending the morning cleaning and catching up on my at-home to-do list, I opened the front door around lunch time and discovered a sunny, warm day waiting for me. I called Keith and suggested this would be a good day to head back up to the County Line Trail and walk another section or two — and, surprisingly, he agreed.
We parked at the second trailhead in Sterling, skipping the road portion of the trail, and started walking east. This section of trail is less sheltered by trees, so we had clear views of farmsteads and harvested fields for about the first mile, before the trees closed in again.
As we approached Rittman, we saw through the denser tree line that the houses and farmsteads came closer together, with smaller properties and a lot more lush green lawns. At one place where the trees opened up, we discovered a small apple orchard, and in a pasture between the orchard rows, we spotted two ponies grazing in the afternoon sunshine. Neither of us knew if this was a small commercial orchard or someone’s extensive homestead, but we intend to find out.
We decided to turn around shortly after this find, having passed a 2-mile mark for our walk. We spotted a marker for the 1st mile of the trail, so we knew the end of the trail was near, but since we still had to retrace our steps, we decided to save the last section for another day. Along the way back, we saw many more cyclists as well as a few hikers, a couple of joggers, and even one young man cruising along on rollerblades. Who could resist such a beautiful day!
We finished our hike not long after reaching the 4-mile point in our outing, and we rounded off the adventure with a stop at Hartzler Family Dairy for — what else? — ice cream. After all, we needed the refueling!
With only one mile of trail left, I’m certain we will finish the trail fairly soon, before the winter winds make this trail through open farmland a bitterly cold one.