It’s my belief that hiking with someone and being in love are very similar. It’s a unique feeling. You have moments where you need to work together, times in which you will take the lead or follow, and instances where you are blazing your own path. Ultimately, you need that other person beside you to accomplish more, to push one another, and most importantly – have fun! It takes work, persistence, and an open mind to explore with a significant other; both in the wilderness and in a relationship. Tara and I managed to do all of these things yesterday.
Bradley Woods Reservation is located at 4101 Fulton Pkwy, Cleveland, OH 44145. With a high of 34 degrees, we were a bit bundled up. Bradley Woods is definitely a stand alone in the Metro Parks system. It was thoroughly enjoyable, but eerie at the same time. The trees were dense – even though most of the trees were bare. The trails seemed like tunnels at points in our walk. We passed pillars, demolished buildings, rusted remains of a car (pictured below) and abandoned – half completed – shelters. My imagination, as usual, ran wild with speculations of homeless beer drinkers and escaped inmates on the loose. Tara quickly grounded me and suggested that kids were most likely being kids.
The thing that surprised me the most was lack of wildlife in these woods. Dense timber or not – there were very few sounds to be heard. That was until we were met by the raciest of love triangles… 3 geese who were quarreling as they descended to the frozen pond. As we walked three individual trails, there were different highlights to each. The Quarry Loop trail was ever changing terrain. We would be in the woods one minute, a meadow the next, and then walking through the remains of a sandstone quarry – it was rugged and TRICKY (inside joke here). The Bunns Lake loop was a simple crushed gravel path around a lake (who’d have thunk it?) that made a series of interesting noises when you tossed objects onto it. (Originally, the first stone cast was to test the thickness of the ice, as Tara was sarcastically egging me on to walk out on it.) Finally, the Pin Oak Loop was rather unimaginative, almost an out and back rectangle. On this trail we did find humor in a very precarious tree (pictured below).
This trip was memorable for me, as Tara and I discussed a ton of different topics. Some more intimate, some silly, but most importantly we talked about LUNCH. I was eating everything in sight yesterday and boy oh boy do I get excited when Tara cooks for me. She down plays it, but she can chef up some tasty and nutritious meals. (Side note: You’d be a bit hungry as well if you played an hour straight of basketball immediately followed by a 2.5 mile trek.)
After running across a ton of friendly walkers we headed on a different adventure… the jungle of traffic lights in North Olmsted, followed by Walmart. Neither of us are a fan of this store, and this trip totally redeemed that thought. We stood in line, only to be told they were closing one of the three lanes that were open for the 75 patrons. We chose a different line and watched an exotic dancer pay for her $64.00 worth of merchandise in ones. This was capped off by painfully watching the cashier clumsily count the stack of shame and glitter.
The conclusion I drew from our adventure: I’d risk the wild over Walmart any day, especially if it means getting a little further down the path of our relationship.
Overall ratings for the Bradley Woods Reservation: 4 out of 5 – Friendly people, different types of trails that were clearly marked, and a little room to lose yourself made this an enjoyable time. It’s originality in the Metro Parks system made it memorable.
Accessibility: 4 out of 5 – You can get to this park via I-80 or I-480, super easy to find!
Terrain: 3.5 out of 5 – Lots of twists and turns on the Quarry Loop trail. Both the Bunns Lake Loop and the Pin Oak Loop were unimaginative. Definitely take the Quarry Loop trail if given the option.
Cleanliness: 2 out of 5 – This was the one thing I noticed about the park – lots and lots of cheap beer cans spread throughout the Quarry Loop trail. A bit discouraging that people discard their trash like that.
Trail designation: 4 out of 5 – Marked well enough with colorful trail indicators, but not in an annoying way.
Bathroom availability: 4 out of 5 – Smack dab in the middle of the park, your standard hole in the ground.