Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

To all:  May you and yours enjoy your traditions safely, and may the Christmas season find you surrounded by the ones you love and cherish.

~The RoadQueen

Monday, December 9, 2013

Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland!

This weekend, RCT and I finally got around to having some good wholesome winter fun.  We're both big fans of outdoor winter activities, and I know at least for myself, hiking in the snow covered forest ranks #1 on the list of favorites.

In light of it being deer season - gun season, no less - we chose a no-hunting zone that's only a 5 minute drive from my house - Wooster Memorial Park, or as us locals know it, Spangler Park.

RCT took the lead heading out from the trail head, and proceeded to set a blistering pace.  His long legs are awesome at covering a lot of ground - fast.  I was jogging at times to keep up and even so, he fairly handily left me in the dust for about the first mile or so.

Of course, my propensity to stop every hip-stitch to take photos in my excitement over my first winter hike of the year didn't help me stay with him.

"Oooh, Pretty."

After a mile or so and scrambling after him on the biggest, steepest m-f'ing hill in the park, I cried uncle just a tad because the early effort to keep up before being properly warmed up was making me sweat under my layers of sweatshirts and hoodie.  I like to warm up slowly and steadily in the cold weather to avoid breaking a heavy sweat and then getting chilled.

Being the complete gentleman that he is, he let me take the lead and set a slightly gentler pace for a while.  

After another mile or so, our muscles were warmed up and were hitting our evenly matched grooves, so for the remainder of the hike we took turns leading.

The conditions for our hike were excellent.  Very little breeze, 24 degrees.  Cloudy and a very light snowfall at times.  The still conditions encouraged lots of different wildlife to get out and forage what they could from the frozen landscape.

There were little critter tracks and big critter tracks everywhere in the snow.  We saw Cardinals and other winter birds, a few squirrels, and 3 deer!  One was a lone buck, the other two were doe that we startled out of their thicket while tromping, yacking and crunching down the frozen hiking trail.

We had to cross Rathburn Run several times throughout our hike.  Rathburn Run is a tributary of Killbuck Creek.  We've had quite a bit of rain, then snow, then melt, then more snow, so Rathburn was fairly swollen and moving fast enough to resist freezing over, as it would normally do if it were moving slower.

We each ended up with a foot (or both) in the water at some point, but our trusty hiking boots purchased last year for this hike proved to be money well spent.  We each had frozen stiff pant legs, but neither of us had wet feet.

Frozen Pond

This hike proved to be just as fun and pretty as the Lyon's Falls and 14 Mile Mohican Hike that we did last year.  Although we each had slightly sore feet at the end of this hike, it was nothing compared to the bodily devastation caused by the Mohican hike!

We ended up getting back to the car at dusk, perfect timing.  We were out for about 3 hours, covering roughly 4 miles of steep, rugged trail with frequent stops to take pictures, gab, watch wildlife or just pause to soak up the beauty surrounding us.

I hope that we continue to have temperatures in the 20's and gain snowfall steadily.  I love winter hiking, and there are so many wonderful parks in each of our areas.  Some I know well, some I'd like to get to know better, and many that I've never set foot on.

~The RoadQueen

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fall Shmall

The end of Summer is nigh.  :'(  Back to freezing cold temperatures, dead foliage, frozen water, snow to wade through.....did I mention the freezing temperatures?!

My favorite season is Spring.  A really close second would be Summer.  Believe it or not, Winter is third, and Autumn is my least favorite by far.

Pretty?  Sure.
I know so many people that are all like, "Ahhh, Fall is my favorite season.  I love hoodies and bonfires and Apple Cider!"

Here's a different spin:

Yeah, Winter is cold.  But Winter is pretty, and the fact that the following season is Spring grants it a certain amount of amnesty.

Fall is the death of nature.  It's sad to me.  When Autumn comes around, I can appreciate the occasional pretty view like the first one, but mostly I see the dead and dying.  It almost feels like watching a beloved friend slowly loosing their battle with cancer, or saying goodbye to your lover.

Until we meet again, my love.

Dead leaves.  Bare branches.  A few green patches of foliage desperately hanging on to life as the daylight shortens and the temperatures drop to an unlivable atmosphere, and they are forced to surrender to the impending wintry grave that awaits.

Until Spring.  Spring, the time of resurrection, life, new birth, hope, energy.

Spring brings another important thing - pink.

Ok, enough complaining.  As of today, Wednesday, October 30th, 2013, there are 140 left until Spring.  It can't get here soon enough.

Ride safe all,

~The RoadQueen

Monday, October 14, 2013

Alum Creek State Park

This past weekend Mom and I joined a group of friends at Alum Creek State Park in Delaware, Ohio.  This camping trip was to serve two purposes:  1st, I've never been there and it's always fun to explore new territory and 2nd, our friend's husband and granddaughter were to celebrate their joint birthday on Saturday.

We arrived Friday late afternoon just before dark and sat around the campfire chatting, listening to the owls and stargazing.

Saturday morning we got a late start, but finally headed out around noon.

Ready to go.
There were six of us originally planning on riding together, but it quickly became apparent that not all of our horses were going to get along.  The horses were HOT - way too hot for the tricky terrain that we were trying to traverse, and there was some kicking and general disobedience going on fueled by the situation.

So, we split into two groups of three and went our separate ways.  The rest of the day was fairly uneventful and all of the horses quickly recovered from the earlier excitement.

The Others
Along the way, the fall scenery was amazing.  We passed through a corridor of these bushes, covered with pretty red berries.  No, we didn't eat any.

Berry Close
Berries, berries, everywhere

Right after the berry patch, we came to a tunnel.  Well, it was actually a gigantic culvert that passed underneath a highway.

Guinness was all like,

Guinness:  "!!!!!!!!"
So I got off and walked him through the tunnel to fend off any "boogie men" while my mounted counter parts rode through with nary an issue.

Go towards the light!
After the tunnel episode, all went well and all I have to add for the rest of the ride is some scenic fall-in-the-woods porn:

While the scenery was beautiful, there were plenty of places where the trail itself - wasn't.  Mud, mud, mud.  We were all pretty well covered in it by the time we got back from our 5 hours in the saddle.

Alum Creek Horseman's Camp has a pretty decent hosing station though, so we were able to hose the worst of the mud off the horses.

Basking in the sunshine

We got settled in camp while watching the sun go down and waited for the birthday party guests to arrive at our campsite.

Then we had a big potluck dinner, and sat around the fire for a bit before Mom and I headed off to bed and let the party goers howl at the moon.

Sunday morning we woke up bright and early, well rested after our early bedtime the night before.  The same three of us decided to head out together again to explore a different trail.  It was supposed to be a short, couple hour ride.  It ended up being 4 hours, but it was pretty and fun.

Ok, so I got bored with taking photos, so I tried to capture some of the ride on Sunday in video format.

It's not great, because I was simply hanging onto my little point and shoot camera while riding, but it's kinda neat, nonetheless.  I had to dub over the audio with an appropriate song, because honestly, the video was laced with heavy effort grunting and cursing.  Hey, it's not easy to stay on with no hands through that stuff!

Anyway, here's my attempt at video:

Happy Riding all!

~The RoadQueen