We’ve had mostly grey and dreary skies around here lately, even when neither rain nor snow have been in the forecast. But I have needed extra hiking therapy lately, and when I ended up with an afternoon off today, I decided to take my chances and get outside, no matter what the skies had in store.
After much deliberation, I chose to drive north on St. Rt. 3 to Medina County in the hopes of finishing the Chippewa Inlet Trail. When I explored Buckeye Woods recently, I covered the part of this trail within the park boundaries, leaving not quite 2 miles of trail for another day.
By the time I reached the south trailhead, just off Chippewa Road, my choice to tackle this trail today was rewarded with sporadic sunshine and glimpses of blue sky. Patches of icy slush dotted the trail, and a brisk wind sweeping over open fields chilled me to the bone, but that didn’t diminish my thrill of having even a semi-sunny day for a hike!
This southern portion of the trail reminded me of the Towpath in the Cuyahoga Valley: a flat paved path bounded on one side by an evenly-edged waterway of no great depth and on the other by wetlands. These wetlands, created thousands of years ago by retreating glaciers, were originally much larger before area farmers added drainage ditches to make the land more tillable. Over time, though, some of those fields were seeded not with commodity crops but with forage crops, including a highly-invasive species called reed canary grass.
In 2011, the Medina County Park District received a Section 319 Clean Water Act grant to enable them to carry out a multi-year stream restoration project that not only improved filtration of stormwater runoff but also revitalized the biodiversity of these wetlands. Obviously the winter landscape didn’t reveal much of that biodiversity to my untrained eye, but I can appreciate that come spring and summer, these wetlands are sure to be busy places for birds, amphibians, insects, and a wide variety of plants.
The Inlet narrowed as I walked further north, finding shelter between tree lines that also protected the path from excess snow blowing off the farm fields. Once I crossed Rt. 162 into Buckeye Woods, I took a short breather before turning around and hiking the not-quite-2 miles back to my car. All told, the hike covered about 3.7 miles round trip (the entire trail is 3.95 mi in one direction), and on a chilly day, that was as much as I felt like walking!
And when I returned home to grey skies and snow flurries once more, I truly felt grateful for the rare sunshine I had enjoyed on my hike and was glad I had run away from home in search of it!