One of the main things I love about hiking is how it calms me and centers me. After the past few days, I needed it. First, I endured the grim reality of regime change, followed by an executive repeal of the law that has made it possible for me to afford health insurance. The following day, my mood soared as I stood with hundreds of others in my small town to advocate not only for women’s rights but for the human rights of all people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ability. It was a powerful but exhausting start to the weekend.
So I needed to hit the trails today, and what better way to center myself than to hike in the Medina County Park system at two nature centers?
I began the day with a short hike at Princess Ledges Nature Preserve in Brunswick, following the mile-long loop trail and taking the side trails to explore the ledges up close. I’ve written before of my love of ledge trails in northeast Ohio, and while this park had a very small sampling of these sandstone formations, they still made my first hike of the day enjoyable.
From there, I journeyed east a short way to visit the Susan Hambley Nature Center. Located just off US Rt 303 in an area of heavy commercial development, this nature center provides a peaceful oasis amid businesses, condominiums and new housing developments, fast food joints, and yet more new construction.
I first followed a paved walking/biking path out of the nature preserve and around the lake that partially surrounds it. As the predicted high temps were soaring into the 60s, I found myself joined on the path by families, older couples, joggers, and dog walkers, all determined to get out and enjoy the warm spell.
After circling the lake and admiring the clear reflections of trees and clouds in the still water’s surface, I entered the woods behind the nature center and stepped onto the dirt path. A much quieter trail, it led me through beeches, oaks, pines, and other slender trees as I followed its meandering course around this little peninsula in the lake. I imagined it would make a peaceful lunchtime getaway for the people working in businesses nearby. But somehow, the pervasive smell of French fries followed me along the trail through the woods, and that just seemed… not quite right.
Once I finished walking the trail here and visiting the inside of the nature center, I stopped for lunch (NOT for French fries!) before driving further east and then south to return to Wolf Creek Environmental Center. Though I had hiked most of its trails on a previous visit, I had yet to make the full loop around the meadow.
Perhaps today was not the best day for this trail.
Our warm and wet weather of late made the grassy meadow path absolutely soupy, and when the trail headed into the woods, it turned mucky instead. The slimy mud coating my shoe soles caused me to slip and fall on a wooden footbridge, necessitating a stop to stretch and drop into a few restoring yoga poses. And when I returned to the meadow path, I slogged through the best I could, stepping cautiously but still ending up with mud spatters up past my knees.
But that’s life on the trail! And worrying about mud on my best jeans proved to be a much more tolerable and solvable problem than, say, trying to navigate the abnormal political climate.
I have really appreciated my hiking lately. Not only have I made good progress on my hiking goals list (with two more parks checked off today!), but I’m also learning how to stay centered in these stressful times.