This post originally appeared on my previous blog, A Face to the Sun, on August 9, 2012.)
I am not a hiker. Never was. Maybe it's my level of physical fitness, ahem. Well, a few days ago, I met my challenge.
family came from Hocking County, so we traveled there recently to look
around. We stopped at Cantwell Cliffs in Hocking State Park, the area
where his grandfather, great-grandfather and on back lived for many
generations. The park was green and gorgeous, and the day was clear and
sunny. We saw before entering the cliff region that two hikes were
available there - a moderate hike of 3/4 mile and then a more strenuous
one of about 2 miles. A moderate hike - we could do that, of course.
Wouldn't take long. So off we started along the edge of the top of the
cliffs, but on fairly level ground.
the first fifteen or twenty minutes, we marveled at the large stone
cliffs with their enormous boulders and interesting formations. We had
areas of two or three or five steps up and down, but it was not a
difficult walk. Then things changed. The steps became more frequent and
went on for longer distances, all near the cliff edge. We debated
whether to just retrace our path and go back, but really, the trail
wasn't impossible and Hubby kept reassuring me that we were probably
close to the end anyway. So we just kept walking and talking and
enjoying the scenery, following the red dots marking the trees for the
last we came to a series of about twenty steps leading downward along
the cliff's side. It looked a little treacherous. I didn't want to
descend, but Hubby thought it looked really interesting and all would be
well because after all, it was only a 3/4 mile hike, and we should be
almost done. So, clinging to every little tree trunk, rock, or even
weed along the side, I slowly limped down the steps, hoping that this
was the last challenge of the day and praying that neither of us would
fall. Finally at the bottom of the rocky steps, we hit a level trail
again and I breathed a sigh of relief...until I looked ahead and saw
these steps going up and up and up, following the cliff's edge as far as
I could see.
debated - should we turn back and go where we knew what we had to face
or should we just plunge away into the unknown before us? I looked
around and then I saw it! The tree with the yellow dot - the mark
denoting the strenuous path. When had we wandered onto that? Hubby
said again, optimistically, that the end couldn't be too far away.
Right. I'd heard that before. It had to be 90 degrees and the
perspiration was rolling. We had not seen another person on the trail.
We stood there for awhile, taking in the endless steps in front of us
and the drop-off of the cliff to the right of us, and finally decided to
just keep going. So, with newly acquired walking sticks in hand, up we
went. Five steps, rest and wipe dripping forehead - five steps, rest
and wait until the heart stopped thudding - five steps and clean off
steamy glasses - five steps and pant awhile, repeat...
1 1/2 hours from our initial step onto the trail. we emerged into a
fabulous area toward the top of the cliff where an overhang of rock
And, best of all, we saw other people!
we at the end?" I asked, pleadingly. "Why, yes," we were told, "all
you have left is Fat Woman's Squeeze." How appropriate, I thought
wryly. We looked to our left and there it was...the last challenge.
With the thought of a cold drink of water and the AC in the car spurring
me on, I started slowly up the last flight of stairs, hoping they were
kidding about the "squeeze" part at the end.
And we did make it, with no squeeze at all, thank you very much.
a sense of accomplishment and almost two hours after we started this
adventure, we headed out to lunch and a cold drink, basking in the blast
of air from the maximum air conditioning in the car.
Later that day we
stopped at Old Man's Cave, where we confidently and unanimously
rejected the idea of the 6 mile hike around the premises!