Hers – Squire’s Castle, North Chagrin Reservation

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I’m a planner. I have to-do lists for everything. There’s a printed monthly calendar hanging on our fridge, and I often text Casey a schedule for our weekends.

The plan for Sunday was to hit up Columbia Reservation about 25 minutes west of us. After a late evening, the “Spring forward” time change, and Casey’s 6:15 alarm going off for his basketball league, those plans quickly went out the window. I was moving slow and just felt drained. It was honestly one of the most difficult days to get motivated for a hike. I could blame the time change, but it probably had more to do with the beers I’d had the evening before.

The temperature had also dropped again – hovering right around 25 degrees. I tried to summon some kind of motivation. I found it in the form of Pho for lunch after our hike. I wanted nothing more than a hot bowl of goodness. Naturally, I completely rearranged our plans to center around food. I suggested that we head to Squire’s Castle on the east side of Cleveland and then stop for Pho on our way back. Casey, who puts up with my neurotic ways and is able to go with the flow, was completely fine with this.

In another act of defiance of my usual ways, I also suggested stopping for McDonald’s breakfast before our hike. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had fast food in the past year, but there was just no other way to satisfy my craving for a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. (There is no more telling sign of a hangover than craving McDonald’s so there, I admit it. I was hungover.) I’m not proud of it, but it was damn good. Luckily we were about to hike some of those calories off.

We drove out to Squire’s Castle, which is part of the North Chagrin Reservation in the town of Gates Mills. The castle was built in 1890 as a gatekeeper’s home for an oil tycoon’s country estate that never came to fruition. The castle is now just an empty shell…but a really pretty empty shell!

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We walked around the inside for a bit talking about living in our own castle. Then we decided to hit the trails. And this is where my planning really goes out the window. Perhaps it’s not the best idea, but I tend to leave directions and trails up to Casey. I literally see a trail and start walking with no sense of where I’m going or how far I’m going. Sometimes I’ll check a trail map and make a suggestion, but I don’t really study it to figure out how to get to the certain places I’d like to go. I start walking and hope for the best. Thankfully, the boy’s got a great sense of direction.

The trail was a rugged dirt path that led straight up a hill for what seemed like eternity.

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But when we finally made it to the top, we had climbed up with the tree tops overlooking the reservation below. It had lightly started to snow, and it looked like a scene from a movie. It was gorgeous.

We kept walking and picked up a few different trails. I think we ended up on three different ones and upon the fourth, we decided it’d be best to just turn around and retrace our steps instead of continuing further. But I really didn’t care about the direction. I was finally feeling back to normal. I suppose that’s the power of fresh, frigid air.

On our way back, we got to make our way DOWN the hill (A rare luxury in hiking. Why are there so many up hills but never any down?!). The snow started to pick up and my pinky fingers were pretty frozen. It was perfect timing to get in the car and get Pho. Except that stupid McDonald’s breakfast meant that I wasn’t hungry at all. So instead, we just went home. So much for all those plans I make.

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