His – Furnace Run Reservation

20170418_175838.jpgHike sixteen out of fifty-two. This year is really flying by! This was the first hike that we’ve been on that it really FELT like spring. We decided to tackle something close by yesterday since we did the Easter thing with Tara’s family on Sunday. So, we ended up at an awesome little metro park called Furnace Run. I really enjoyed this park aside from one thing; it’s super close to the highway which means you hear the humming of traffic throughout your journey. This park reminded me of one of my favorites – Brecksville Reservation, just a condensed version.

 

This walk also brought back a lot of fond memories of how Tara and I really developed our relationship. It’s been mentioned before, we would often meet up after work and explore together. We used to take turns on picking spots to meet up at, including on our fourth date, where I may or may not have got us lost deep in the woods at Cy Hewit Park. I was supposed to know those trails like the back of my hand. I grew up in that park. I had a pond I used to fish at in my mind that I wanted to get to and we never found it.  We infamously tromped and traced every which way through the wilderness. I just remember that it got dark so fast. I wasn’t quite sure where we were anymore.  We both were a little on edge but I was able to steer us out of there just before the sun set. As a reward for her patience, I did the noble thing and bought her ice cream. By the way, I’m still determined to find the pond.

20170418_182908.jpg

Stories like those play through my head all the time when we’re out hiking. If it were any other woman, I surely would have been dumped by now. Tara’s love of nature and kind hearted spirit took it all in stride. Yesterday’s walk was peaceful. There were only a few other people on the trail with us. We walked hand in hand as usual and just admired the scenery. This walk was a shorter one; only about 2.5 miles, but I absolutely loved this trail. You can tell that the land was slowly shaped and molded over hundreds, if not thousands of years, by the water that flowed through it. The downed trees crisscrossed every which way. The sinking sun made the greens a bit greener, the flowers popped a little more, and made the creek shimmer as if it were lined with gold.

 

There weren’t many shenanigans; a few items for our Instagram (@HisandHerHiking) and a few small memories made. Walks like these are my favorite. You just get a chance to get out and enjoy the beauty in nature. You don’t need anything fancy. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and a person you love.

20170418_184044.jpg

His – West Creek Reservation

20170402_160614.jpgWe were back at it again for hike number fourteen of the year. The weather was pristine, the people were out in droves, and they ALL brought their dogs. I’m a huge animal lover; dogs will always have a soft spot in my heart. When I see them, I often tell Tara about how I want to kidnap them and give them a better home. We have a cat, Zooey, who is an only child, so I can’t act on my inhibitions. However, it will never stop me from dreaming of pooch-napping every single one of them… well except small dogs, because those aren’t really dogs.

Tara deserves a lot of credit for her patience with me this week. I was like a squirrel that drank four Redbulls and followed it up with a couple of pots of coffee. Everything caught my eye. Tara’s brakes and maneuverability were put to the test. I really just couldn’t help myself. We usually go a bit earlier, which means lunch is afterwards. I had a full belly and a racing mind. I was overly fascinated and incredibly terrified by my first ever up close look at a couple of cell phone towers. For those who don’t know, the His portion of the blog is deathly afraid of heights. So, looking straight up at something like this causes sweaty palms and raised blood pressure.

20170402_155057.jpg

For those who don’t know me, I’m a bit of a country bumpkin in some respects. I don’t wander about in the midst of the city. Towers are just fixtures amongst a city skyline. Other than the towers there were a couple of things I noticed on this hike. One, Western Reserve Creek is not a bad spot. You think a park jammed in between Parma and Independence would lack the charm and outdoorsy rural feel most are looking for when hiking. You’d be wrong about judging this book by its cover. We’ve had our share of urban adventures (please refer to Garfield Heights and Big Creek blogs). This one was surprisingly pleasant.

 

20170402_160153.jpg

There were quite a few people out that I wouldn’t expect – (yes, Pokémon Go players are back) but once we made it past the paved portion of trails it was peaceful and serene. It was muddy trails and dense forest. You can tell the trees are on the brink of exploding back to life. The chirping of birds, crickets, and croaking of frogs tell you that spring is in the air. @HisandHerHiking (shameless plug – follow us on Instagram and Facebook) is ready for all the green to come back after 6 months of gray.

The other observation from this week is you need several copies of Rosetta Stone to keep up with all the different dialects. If you want to properly eaves drop and people watch you HAVE to be multi-lingual in this reservation. It always amazes me that even when in the middle of the rust belt you will hear a variety of heavy accents and foreign conversations. All in all, the warm weather brought a longing to go deeper into the woods, escape the wailing sirens and bustling roads, pitch a tent and escape it all. Those days aren’t all that far away. Until then, poor Tara will have to deal with squirrels and their caffeine habits.

20170402_160200.jpg

His – Penitentiary Glen – Kirtland, OH

20170326_133956

There’s something magical about getting outside and exploring new surrounding areas. I heard a statistic on the radio today: 70% of Americans visit less than ten states in their lifetime. How sad is that? Ever since starting this blog and our quest of fifty-two hikes in fifty-two weeks I’ve been consumed with exploring. It’s easily the highlight of my week, and this week was no exception. Tara had sent me a list on Friday and told me to pick a landing spot (www.naturalohioadventures.com). I scrolled through and found myself in Lake County – an area we already visited last year, but a new reservation to the both of us: Penitentiary Glen.

Overall, this weekend was great. We had such pristine weather for Northeast Ohio – mid sixties with plenty of sunshine. It was also Tara’s birthday!!! (Happy Birthday babe!)  The night before our hike we had a going away party for one of my best friends who is deploying overseas for his first tour of duty as an officer in the United States Army; Bill – thank you for your service and sacrifice.

This could easily be one of my favorite hikes ever. I will admit – I was in a terrible mood going into it. I play rec league basketball every Sunday morning. We were promptly blown out by almost forty points. The other team dropped over one hundred on us. Simply put, I was embarrassed. I was so embarrassed that I just grabbed my belongings and left without saying a word after the game. Yes, I know, its rec league basketball, but the frustrations of only winning one game over the past four months has me thirsting for a win. Sunday, down our best player, felt like we took a huge step back.

Anyway, when I got back to the apartment, hiking was the last thing on my mind. I had half a mind to crack open a beer and park it on the couch all day. Tara and I don’t do well with a day of idleness so we cooked breakfast and got ready to go. We drove the forty minutes to the park and picked the longest trail available – Rabbit Run Loop. This trail sounds innocent, but if you choose this one, be prepared for some serious hiking.

Rabbit Run will at first lull you to sleep. An easy crushed gravel path, relatively flat terrain, and the humming of a nearby road make it seem less than spectacular. I remember opening my big mouth and complaining about the description of – “Length: 2.63 miles / Difficulty: Hard / Trail Description: Best and longest trail in the park. Loop trail that parallels the southern rim of the gorge and descends into it at the trail’s easternmost point.” Tara forewarned me that I’d regret it. I ended up eating crow, and boy did it taste good.

20170326_134257

The description nailed it! It dove deep into the woods. The crushed gravel turned into mud, leaves, and a variety of exciting terrain. We crossed over, under, and across downed trees. We tested our footing and balance in the middle of a stream on some moss covered rocks, and we scaled up the side of a mud filled 100+ foot ascent. The best part about it: all I could hear was nature. Tara and I celebrated the whole way through the trail.

20170326_135101

 

We’ve recently been messing around with the Boomerang app on Instagram and laughed at some of the crazy videos we created. (Don’t forget to follow us for unseen footage and pictures: @HisAndHerHiking.) We talked and bull shitted our way through the trail and ended up in the Nature Center where we discovered a few woodland creatures on display. As we climbed in the car, we BARELY beat a mid-afternoon downpour and spent the rest of the day on the couch resting and watching basketball.

I did lose the #HisAndHer6packChallenge … those pesky Tarheels won one of the best basketball games I’ve seen in quite a while. This would be a weekend for the scrapbook – if I made such a thing. I encourage all of you to get out and explore. Don’t be a part of the 70% who doesn’t explore the beauty of this country; it’s only a small car ride away.

20170326_141035

Hers – Penitentiary Glen Reservation, Kirtland OH

Did you ever not want to do something but then forced yourself to do it and it turned out to be a ton of fun? That pretty much sums up my hike on Sunday.

I was feeling a little under the weather in the morning (cough hungover cough) from celebrating my birthday a bit too much. I just turned 31. That’s 10 years older than 21, which means I’m 10 years removed from being able to party like I was 21. I’m not good at math, but I quickly learned that lesson over the weekend.

Anyways, Casey and I both rallied Sunday afternoon to get our butts in gear and out to Kirtland, Ohio. We’ve hiked around this area before, and I’m a kind of in love with it. (So in love that I may or may not be house searching on Zillow.) As we left the city limits behind, I began to feel better and better.

When we pulled into the main entrance, I was impressed to find a pretty large nature center, small amphitheater, farm, gardens and paved trails. There were quite a few cars in the parking lot and plenty of families with kids running around, so I was slightly concerned that it’d be a bit too loud for my headache. Luckily Casey and I chose the Rabbit Run Trail, a 2.6-mile difficult loop that apparently most families don’t attempt. We quickly found ourselves alone in the middle of the woods. (Get your mind outta the gutter, this isn’t that kind of blog!)

IMG_20170326_140315767_HDR

The trail started off very easy, as a crushed gravel path that led into the trees. And then it quickly turned into a dirt trail covered with leaves. And then it quickly turned into crossing fallen logs. Mind you my legs were still slightly shaky and my balance certainly wasn’t on point, so I was a little concerned I wasn’t going to be able to handle this kind of trail in my “condition.” But it’s amazing what some fresh air can do for a person. (A new hangover cure? Drink a bottle of Gatorade, take two aspirin and get your butt outside.)

All of a sudden Casey and I were crossing over downed trees, rock hopping across a steam and climbing up a pretty intense, muddy hill. It was awesome!

IMG_20170326_133437949

I had also recently downloaded the boomerang app, and we had a blast recording funny videos along the way. (Shameless self promotion time! Follow @hisandherhiking on Instagram!) But the best part? The confetti. I’m a firm believer in buying yourself a birthday present, so I thought there was no better way to celebrate the big 3-1 than to purchase a glitter/confetti popper. (Ok, I also got myself a pair of socks and a bottle of bourbon.) I was saving it for just the right moment, and what better moment for confetti than in the middle of the woods?! Guys … I’ve come to the conclusion that the key to solving all of life’s problems is to shower yourself in confetti once a month. Done. Problems solved. Try it and thank me later.

IMG_20170326_134813277

I honestly can’t tell you how much fun I had on this hike. I feel like Casey and I needed that. We needed to get back to being our silly selves and just not giving a damn out in nature. Fresh air and a long walk really are good for the soul.

IMG_20170326_141040619