In a single day, I managed to experience more comfort, fear, thrill, and awe than I have within any given week of Dudetrek, perhaps since I began.
Hurricane Sandy began wreaking havoc on the East Coast sometime on the 29th of October, showing her full force throughout the night and into the 30th. I could hardly believe the stories I heard, and the pictures I saw. I was just in Ocean City, Maryland for “Senior Week“- where Maryland high school Seniors take over the entire city in massive numbers to party nonstop for an entire week at the beach. Now, some of the same places I had just visited we’re under a few feet of water, and slowly being dragged into the Atlantic. Even more recently than that, Dudetrek began at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware. They too, we’re being hammered (not quite like Senior Week) with crazy floods and inevitable property damage. The worst was near NYC, where millions lost power and Obama declared both New York and Massachusetts to be in a state of emergency.
The day I speak of was yesterday, Tuesday, October 30th and it snowed almost all day in the part of Ohio I happened to be passing through. Not even close to the worst part of the storm, but certainly unexpected weather as far as late October goes. In a weird way, I was excited to hike through the snow. It’d my first taste of what winter will feel like on foot, and it gave me a perfect opportunity to test out my new waterproof, thermal pants. After an equally unexpected, yet amazingly comfortable night at the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls, I was feeling up for the challenge. First came Cedar Falls.
Lol. They should call it Jonah Falls instead. Believe it or not, there’s more!
Quite a close call, huh? Well it scared the crap out of me, so I made sure to be extra cautious from then on out.
It’s a strange feeling to break-in a clean sheet of snow with some fresh footprints, but I did just that almost all day. I arrived at the Ash Cave Firetower eventually, and still had enough guts to climb to the top.
I had a perfect signal from that height, so I made sure to call my mom. I figured I would fill her in on my previous night, tell her of my near-death experience, and ask how she’s doing. She had just left to go to Las Vegas the day before, and it turns out she was one of the very last flights to leave the airport before they shut everything down for the storm. It was a relief knowing that she was headed for better weather. Not too long after, I made it to Ash Cave.
I stood there for a little while, soaking it all in. Essentially right around the corner from Ash Cave, I saw a sign for a restaurant with a Thanksgiving buffet. While the holiday is another month away, the thought of it sure made me hungry. I climbed a steep hill to get to the Grouse Nest restaurant at Hocking Hills Resort, and it is closed. Bummer. However, when I stop for a few minutes in the main office to rest my feet, I meet Randy, the owner, and priest at the resort’s chapel. He is über chill, and my quick stop soon leads to tea and chili, while talking about life. I also meet Cassie and Andy, who join in on our little break and add to the general conversation. Randy says he couldn’t be happier doing what he’s doing, and i can’t blame him- he’s in a good place surrounded by good people and good food. Andy shows me how to play ‘Stuff That Works’ by Guy Clark, and Cassie wishes me luck before I get back to the trail.
The snow soon turns to rain, and I pick up the pace to stay warm and find a place for the night before dark. I go off a tip from Randy, and stay at the abandoned Macedonia church. The night is cold, but snuggled up in my -20 degree sleeping bag after a day like this, I sleep like a baby.