Casey and I were really looking forward to this weekend, as was the rest of Northeast Ohio. All anyone had been talking about all week – after we dealt with an early week snow storm and biting cold temperatures – was the weather forecast for the weekend. It was going to be in the 60s and sunny. I couldn’t wait. As I mentioned in an earlier post, February is the shortest month of the year, but for those of us in the Midwest and Northeast, it feels like the longest. The lack of Vitamin D really starts to wear on your emotions and mental state.
On Saturday we were planning to visit my parents in Wayne County, about an hour south of Cleveland. It’s home to the largest Amish population in the state of Ohio, if that gives you any indication about where I grew up. While I’m not sure if I could ever live there again, it’s incredibly refreshing to get back for a visit in the middle of nowhere.
Since we planned to head down that way, I mentioned to Casey that we should choose a hiking spot along the way. I did some research about parks and trails near my parents and was a little surprised that there really isn’t that much. Once I started really thinking about it, though, it makes sense. People in rural America don’t need trails or designated parks – they have their backyard, which often spans acres of wide open spaces. Who needs a concrete trail, when you can walk through a field that belongs to you?
Anyways, we did end up finding a park in Medina County (which is wedged between Cleveland and where my parents live). Huffman Park is home to quite a few soccer fields, some playgrounds, a dirt bike path and a 1.4 mile walking trail. Perfect. 1.4 miles would be just enough for us to enjoy the weather, while also keeping on our time commitments.
We decided to start on the river trail, which actually did run along a river…for about 500 feet before looping us back to where we started. That was a bust, and I was preparing a plan b for us when we found the Huffman Field Trail, which was the 1.4 mile trail we had read about.
As we walked along, we were super excited to see a woodpecker, the sunshine and not much mud. The trail took us back into the woods, over a few plank bridges and even deeper into the woods. Then we came across some mountain bike obstacles. I had read that Huffman Park had a really good mountain bike trail, and Casey decided to tackle the obstacles on foot…while I filmed.
We apparently then got onto the mountain bike trail and serpentine through the woods. And kept going…and going…and going. Ok, this was not the 1.4 mile trail that I was prepared for. I had packed a tasty snack of cheese and crackers for when we finished our hike and my thoughts kept going back to the cheese…sitting in the car that was getting warmer and warmer in the sun as we kept getting deeper and deeper into the woods.
Oh, and I should probably also mention that this is about the time that the lack of mud I was so excited about earlier decide to turn up with a vengeance. My shoes were once again caked as I slide along the trail. I felt my patience wearing thin and my energy draining, which then makes me mad at myself for not enjoying being out in nature. My emotions are a vicious cycle.
I was just about to ask Casey if we could just turn around and go back the way we came, when we saw three massive white tail deer. And then we saw two bikers. The first sign of life in about an hour was a refreshing sight. We weren’t the only ones braving the muck and we had to be getting close to …something. That’s when Casey was able to spot the park shelter through the woods. I was so excited! I was getting closer to my cheese and crackers!
I picked up the pace and we kept walking … and walking …and walking. Ok, seriously…where the fuck was the parking lot and where did this trail end?! The mud on my shoes was weighing me down and the rising temperature was making me hot. (I know, I know. I just bitched about the frigid temperatures and now I’m complaining about it being too warm. I’m tough to please!)
We kept onward and passed an older couple dressed in clean clothes and tennis shoes. I think Casey and I both knew this meant we were near the exit. And then we found the end of the trail! We both did an end zone dance to celebrate our victory as we raced through the parking lot to my car. I think Casey was excited to get the mud off his shoes. I was excited for cheese. And let me tell you guys, it was glorious. We sat on the trunk of my car playing some music from my phone, enjoying the sweet delight of crackers and cheese and the sun shone on our faces and lifted my spirits.
Not to say that I didn’t enjoy the hike on Saturday, but sometime the best thing about a hike is when it’s over. When you’re able to bask in your accomplishment. When you can sit with the person that walked alongside you and just enjoy the act of sitting. When you realize that the hike wasn’t that bad and you’re already looking forward to the next one.