The last two days of our stay we had been totally isolated from the outside world. A fire in Friendship wiped out the landlines to the lodge and the WIFI so we had no way to communicate with the outside world. No Internet, no phone messages, no emails, just lush green forest, birds, running water, and tons and tons of butterflies. Our cell phones had not worked since we first crossed into Scioto county, so we had already abandoned that form of communication, and the remaining two forms were just frosting on the cake. The last two days of isolation were almost a gift. Without outside distractions we slipped even deeper into the rhythms of the mountains…birdsong, rain dripping from wet, shiny green leaves to the dark, decayed leaf litter of the forest floor, creeks—cold and clear on their endless run down the mountains, babbling and rushing over rocks covered in fossils 350 million years old…sensations and sounds, smells and color, and all ours without interruption.
Trailblazing the Look-out Trail
I wanted to post every night, but that didn't happen. The second evening I was exhausted and then we had WIFI loss, so I had to save everything up. Besides working in the nature center, our first job was trailblazing the Look-out Trail. Hikers were getting lost on the trail, and Jenny needed us to trim it back and paint arrows on trees to guide the hikers along. What a fun job!! We worked like crazy, but I think all the hard trail work kept me from gaining weight. A gourmet cook at the lodge did a great job concocting irresistible desserts, such as peanut butter and chocolate pie. He was also able to cook salt free for me (I have Meniere's Disease--an inner ear disorder that restricts the amount of salt I can have in my diet). I fell prey to the chocolate peanut butter pie twice, but all that climbing and chopping burnt enough calories to counteract the evils of the sugar.
When we finished working at the nature center two other volunteers, Anna and Kayla, offered to trail blaze with us. Yeah!! We were so happy--if two is good, four is better! We immediately set off for the trail. Look-out Trail is a two-mile loop on the outskirts of Roosevelt Lake. The evening before Matty and I hiked the trail in the rain to see if we could figure it out and not get lost. Using Jenny's instructions and a map, we succeeded. We had a blast climbing and hiking around in the rain (a little slippery here and there, and at one point we both went ankle deep in mud, but it all added to the adventure, and we loved it.) Since Matty and I were sure of the trail, all four of us got right to work.
Anna paints the first arrow.
Matty and Kayla would carve away the bark in the shape of an arrow, being careful not to carve down into the cambium. Once the bark was removed, Anna and I would paint pink arrows on the tree. Aren't they cool....you can't miss those hot-pink arrows! We didn't paint too many, just every now and then at turning points and other key spots. If you ever walk the trail, let me know if saw the arrows!
Matty and Kayla carving out arrows (on on each side of the tree because you can follow the trail from either direction). It was really hot and the humidity was crazy. We were soaked with sweat.
Ouch!!! This job is not for sissies! Kayla slipped with the knife and cut her thumb. I thought she she needed to go home to get it bandaged up, but Kayla was too brave for that.
...she took off her shoe, pulled off her sock, and wrapped it around her thumb! What a woman! It soaked through for a while, but eventually slowed. (Anna emailed me that Kayla's thumb is all right...she didn't need stitches, just a bandage and a healthy application of antibiotic salve...)
...since this tree was already marked up with hearts and initials, we thought it was a good tree to put the arrows on. Matty found out its bark was really hard...
...eventually he gave up and Anna took over. She was able to finish carving out the triangle. I think at this point a guy we met early on came back down the trail by retracing his steps. He had gotten lost and decided he would be safe rather than sorry by heading back the same way he came. Of course we all laughed and told him to try the trail the next day because all the bright pink arrows would be up, and he wouldn't get lost!