Hiking Challenge 2015 – Goodyear Hts Metro Park
Our Summit County Metro Parks offers a hiking challenge twice a year, but we love doing the fall challenge the best because it’s our favorite time of year. We’ve only completed the full fall challenge once because we used to travel a lot at this time of year and it’s hard to squeeze it in. But finishing the challenge isn’t the reason we do it. We like having the goal and it keeps us active. Plus, the fall season is so gorgeous in Ohio, so you might miss it if you don’t challenge yourself to participate every nice day you can.
This year, my husband and I started the challenge with a 1.4 mile hike on the Alder trail at Goodyear Hts Metro Park. To get there you need to hike .2 miles to Alder Pond where the Alder Trail branches off. I believe that the .2 miles is included in the 1.4 mile total. The nice thing about the trail to the pond is that it’s pretty level and good for strollers or wheelchairs. The trail isn’t wheelchair accessible all along Alder, but I did see people with strollers that seemed to be doing okay with the surface.
I love photographing the pond so I like walking to it at all times of the year. There are some real nice spots for picnics nestled in the woods along the trail to the pond so it’s a good spot to go for a reprieve from the stress of life.
There are a lot of chipmonks and squirrels running around in this picnic area so there are plenty of chances to photograph them. They’re pretty speedy so my photos aren’t perfect from my little 35mm camera that’s more like an Instamatic, but it’s fast at zooming in to catch these little guys running around. I like the portability of this smaller camera (Canon Powershot SX260) when I’m hiking because my other camera gets too heavy by the end of the hike.
Most of this trail is wooded and there’s a little stream that runs along part of it. There’s also an observation deck that overlooks the lake that’s a pretty place to stop for some photographs. There was another couple there the day we were there so we didn’t stay long enough to take any pictures. I’ll catch that next time.
I love the boardwalk that cuts right through the reeds/cattails near the pond. You feel like you’re part of nature hunkered in the center of it like this.
As you can see above, the trail is mostly a pretty good packed surface for walking. Overall, it’s one of the best trails for walking if you’re a bit unstable. There aren’t many tree roots or gravely areas to slip, slide or trip.
The chipmunks continued to entertain us all throughout the trail. This little guy just sat on his log watching us while we watched him. He was back a ways which is why this photo is a bit fuzzy. I’m not so good at holding the zoom lens steady when I pull the shots in tight. I think this trail is the perfect place to continue to practice photographing wildlife as they weren’t as timid here as many of the trails we’ve been on.
Overall, I recommend this trail as an easy 1.4 miles that are comfortable on the feet with lots of benches to rest on along the way. I saw a couple toting backpacks, practicing for what I’m sure is a plan for a through-hike. They were older than me so I have hope of doing my own some day! They each had two hiking sticks to steady their walk with their packs. I’m not sure if they were loaded packs, but they were being smart by practicing on an easier trail like this one before taking on something more strenuous.
We need to complete 8 hikes that are listed on the challenge and we get one “hiker’s choice,” which we did as our first one. We usually do a hiker’s choice as a first one because we like to take an easy one first to see how out of shape we are before going on something more difficult.
We made that mistake once three years ago by going on a rated 3 hike as our first and I respectively thought I was going to die before I finished. If it wasn’t for my husband cheering me on and telling me I could do it, I would have sat down and not gotten up. I did try to flag down a few cars when we had to cross a road. I really thought I’d hitchhike back to our car, rather than go up the huge hill we needed to climb to get out of there. I probably wouldn’t have been that insane if my husband wasn’t with me. And let’s face it, once I get my dander up, there’s no stopping me, so he just had to go along for a while and humor me. I was a mess of anxiety, let me tell you. Finally, when no one would stop to give this crazy lady a ride and I had whined long and hard for about 45 minutes, my husband convinced me to go up the hill, with him behind me to catch me if I started to roll backwards. He had to push me a few times because it was steep and muddy.
When I reached the top of that hill, I felt like I had won an Olympic gold medal. I have never been so proud of anything in my life. The reason? I had been walking with a cane for months and had been in rehab for almost two years prior to this hike. This was the first time I had hiked in probably 20 years and I had chosen the most strenuous hike as my first.
I learned a valuable lesson that first hike. What goes down must eventually come back up in the hiking scheme of things when you’re trying to get back to your car. Another lesson learned, check the rating of the hike and make sure it’s a level you can do. It was almost dark by the time we got off that trail at Oneil Woods. We didn’t have flashlights or food with us so it wasn’t the smartest thing to go on a hike like that unprepared in the late afternoon. Especially since it was rated a 3 in difficulty, which is the highest rating I think they have in this set of hikes. This picture above is the view going down on that hike 3 years ago. Going down was tough on the knees, so I knew I couldn’t do these steps coming back up. We went up a pathway uphill instead that was killer, so I can’t say which one would be harder. Not for the feint of heart for sure!
So this is our fourth year in a row trying the Summit County Metro Parks Fall Hiking Spree. Hiking 1.4 miles as our first hike was pushing our boundaries, so I once again bit off a bit more than I should have for a first hike. But, luckily, this trail had the benches where you could rest. And it only had one small incline, so the majority of the trail was wide and not too filled with tree roots to trip over. We were tired and a bit achy that night for overdoing it the first time out, but we survived and it’s a trail we’ll revisit because we really enjoyed it.
Of course, this time we forgot our hiking sticks! That’s something we always bring in case we start to cramp up and need some extra support. The hiking sticks are also great for balance when going downhill or uphill on loose stone or dirt or leaves. We did remember our water, compass, and cameras, plus we had GPS on our cell phones if we could get signals. See — my biggest fear is that I’ll take a wrong turn and land on a three mile trail instead of the one mile trail I want to be on. So, we photograph the trail map so we have it with us. That way we can look it up if I start to panic that we’ve taken a wrong turn. See, I have Fibromyalgia and my limbs can lock up when they’re done. It’s not something I can predict, so knowing exactly where I am and how far I have to go keeps my anxiety at a minimum. Nothing is scarier than to have your legs refuse to move and you don’t know how far away from assistance you are. Especially when there’s no cell signal.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, then why do this? Because I’ll never reach a goal of doing more if I don’t at least continue to stretch for goals that aren’t exactly attainable right now. Just because I can’t do something doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it. And I’m kind of stubborn in that I will continue to push if there’s a small hope that I can attain that goal someday. I don’t care how many years it takes me. The fun is in the trying, not in just the success.
Someday I want to through-hike at least for a week somewhere. I want to camp in the wilderness and cook outdoors and enjoy nature for a week solid. Right now my body tells me no way are you going to do that ever, but I’m not listening. LOL I will live in my little fairy-tale world and keep hiking these little hikes and maybe someday I’ll be able to hike 5 miles in a day. Then my next goal is to hike 10 miles in a day. So, we start out at 1 mile and keep building on that until I reach that goal. If I never reach it, I will at least have the memories of all these little hikes to keep me happy. 🙂
What’s your challenge that you’re hoping to complete? Watch for more hikes featured here as we continue on our challenge!