Hiking Challenge – Nature Realm Seneca Trail
Our sixth hike was at one our favorite parks, Nature Realm in Akron, part of the Summit County Metro Parks. We’ve hiked the easy trails here many times and always enjoy the gardens and gift shop, plus the special programs. This time we took a leap of faith and hiked the moderate rated 1.4 mile Seneca Trail and oh my, what a gorgeous hike.
I had my doubts if we’d survive as we wound down into the valley that seems like a deep basin. I remember that what does down must come up at some point on Ohio trails, if you want to return to where you parked your car. My trepidation was such that I had to ask a fellow hiker how far we were from the end. She was coming from where we were headed and I know people often do that, start at the opposite end, for various reasons, one being that it’s easier to go one way over another. At that point she felt we were about a quarter in, so we had another three quarters of a mile at least to do.
My sense of mileage is really off so I had no idea how far we had hiked. It wasn’t an easy hike, but I felt fairly confident that we’d be okay, but there’s always that little doubt that I’m going to get into trouble being so positive. So I asked how hard it was up ahead. We were assured it might be easier to go back the way we came, as the grade going back up and out of this basin where we had landed was fairly difficult. But, of course, she had no idea how much we can or cannot do, so it’s really difficult to judge that for someone else.
Such a quandary — do we go backwards, or take our chances forward? We decided we’d keep going forward because if we didn’t, we’d never know if we were tough enough to do it. Besides, how bad could it be? We might have to rest a lot and use our flashlight app on our phones to find our way out, since it would be dark within a half hour or so. It wouldn’t be the first time either of those things had happened and we weren’t feeling overly tired at that moment, so onward we went.
We made the right decision. The grade was steep and I got pretty winded, but we stopped to catch our breath, then went a bit further to repeat the stop/start process. I believe it was easier to go the way we went because I’m much better at a grade upward than dealing with the elongated steps that are rather uneven, keeping me off-balanced, which we had already done going down. That can stress hips and knees a lot more than a gradual grade, in my opinion, so I didn’t want to repeat it going up. I wasn’t feeling any adverse results from our hike in the first half, so my confidence grew as we continued our upward climb.
There were still those evil moments of doubt when I couldn’t see the end of the trail. It would certainly be easier if I had a Fitbit to know the distance I’ve gone, but I think I enjoy the not knowing — that sense of adventure of finding what’s around the next bend.
When we reached the bench that we knew would be at the top, I was relieved and laughed because I had expected to have to go much further to find it. That it appeared that soon was a relief and a sense of accomplishment. I fell in love with this trail at that moment. It was rigorous and a great workout but it was also beautiful, filled with other hikers passing us like we were standing still, and lots of wildlife.
It didn’t matter to me that we were probably the slowest hikers on the trail that day because we had a blast taking pictures of the beautiful doe that grazed so close to us.
AND, we had accomplished a trail I hadn’t tried in several years because I felt it might be too tough for us. We did it! And I’m looking forward to doing it again!
Several other reasons to love this trail is that it ends in a grassy field, then ambles through the Phenology Garden monitored by OSU.
I loved the example of an Insect Condo to build for your garden to attract beneficials.
Before getting to the parking lot, we wandered through the Herb Garden and it was still beautiful this late in the Fall. I love the waterfall and don’t remember seeing that the last time I was here. I seem to notice something different every time I visit Nature Realm. Love this park!
This gorgeous view was our final moment before we collapsed in our car. Hurrah!