Sunday, July 18, 2010

Trailblazing the Look-out Trail at Shawnee State Park

Volunteering at Shawnee State Park
Matty and I are home again, and we miss the beauty and quiet of Shawnee State Park. It was so easy to slip into the pace of nature there. Our room looked out into deep woods, and the dining room looked out on wooded mountains and Turkey Creek Lake far below. I don’t think we realized how much we had settled into the comfort of the mountains until our return ride. As Route 32 started to dump into I-275, we could feel the solitude and greenness sliding off. It was a strange sensation, and we both felt it. The speed required to merge onto the highway in the late evening traffic shattered the tranquility that was still following us. We were happy to be on the last leg of the trip because we missed Rick and Bip and knew we would see them in about 45 minutes, but at the same time, we were sad to feel the peace and heaviness of the forest and its trees fading away. We had just spent a very special week surrounded by nature and nature people, and we didn’t like the way I-275 felt.

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!

Matthew Riccetti trailblazing at Shawnee State Park.

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!


...wherever we looked, beauty was there. This Luna moth was just hanging out on the tree not know how beautiful it was. I've never seen so many incredible moths. They were all huge and colorful, and butterflies were everywhere.


28 comments:

Cherrie said...

Love this post! It is awesome!

Elaine said...

What a wonderful week you had. The Interstate jerked you back from your tranquility very abruptly. I look forward to hearing more of your adventures.

Jayne said...

What a great experience Kelly!

JKoenig said...

That is a week you and Matti will always remember. I am happy for you.

Out on the prairie said...

Fantastic post, I felt I was with you. Leaving can be hard, I laugh how it almost has the same feeling each time.You have bonded with some new people and now return back to the lives you had when you came there.I would love to try this, I do a lot of photography for Iowa Parks, but would like to be in the mountains better.Super job!!!!!

Roy said...

Wandering in the woods, even if you're painting blazes on trees, is always good for the soul. I hope it was cooler under the trees!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kelly, I looked up Shawnee on my map--just to see where you were... Looks like a neat neat place.. AND-what a great experience for you and Matty together.

Can't wait to see more pictures.
Hugs,
Betsy

Montanagirl said...

Wonderful post! That Luna Moth is nothing short of amazing.

Carol Mattingly said...

Kelly sounds like you and your son had a fantastic time. I spent an afternoon at Bernheim which is about all I can handle in the heat. I'm so glad you guys got to immerse yourself in nature. Have a great week. Love all the photos but the bloody finger which looked painful. Carol

The Early Birder said...

Hi Kelly. Peace and tranquility away from the 'hustle and bustle' what could be better. Great to see you and Matty had so much fun but I'm sure Rich and Bip where pleased to see you safely home. FAB.

holdingmoments said...

You had a great time....I can tell lol
Oh to be away like that. Heaven!
A great post Kelly.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

What a wonderful experience to share with your son! I would love to do something like that with mine, but he is a bit too tied to the electronics to participate willingly! Perhaps I need to work on that...

Shelley said...

I could just visualize your experiences - very well written and sounds like a delightful and peaceful trip!

Heather said...

Oh Kel, what a wonderful experience for you and Matty. Sorry you had to come back to the "real world." It's hard, I know. Can't wait to hear more!

Greener Bangalore said...

lovely post and yes volunteering and making efforts in such directions trigger thoughts!

Wanda..... said...

This section of your post would be a dream come true for most people!...

...."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''''''''and all ours without interruption"....

Lovely time you and Matty had!

Adrienne in Ohio said...

I don't think I've ever been to Scioto county. Now I want to visit Shawnee State Park just to see if I can find the trail you marked.
A volunteering vacation for two nature-lovers--what a great idea!

Anne McCormack said...

I've been to Shawnee NF in IL but didn't know about the park in Ohio. Really looks cool! and what a great photo of a very fresh Luna moth. Thanks for the post!

Chris Petrak said...

I have gotten so far behind on my blog reading that I'm almost embarrassed. Please forgive one comment on several posts and stunning photos: the black snake - the sharp focus on head & tongue and then the blur - captivating! And your photos of the skimmer, willet, and egret were just superb! Great eye with the camera and (I assume) when processing them at home. They make me simultaneously feel inspired, challenged, humbled, determined, and a bunch else.

Hilke Breder said...

Kelly, I loved reading your report! It sounds like as a volunteer you and Matty gave a lot and got a lot! Just wondering, there weren't any flies? They always make my life miserable in the woods.

dAwN said...

Howdee Kelly,
Here I am...I dont always comment, but I check you out via my Itouch blog reader.
I cant comment from there.
Any who..
Awesome photos..though bloody, hee hee

What a wonderful time u must have had!

Nick S said...

A lovely post Kelly. Thanks for sharing.

E said...

Very interesting, good pics, great fun.
Hope she is getting better. Hugs

E said...

Very interesting, good pics, great fun.
Hope she is getting better. Hugs

Allison said...

I love the Luna Moth--the tail is so beautiful and frilly! Great job on the trail!

Kelly said...

...thanks everyone. If you can, head out to your stat park and volunteer. I don't know if your naturalist will be as friendly as ours, but you will learn so much. We will be back next year for another week of volunteering.

Larry said...

Great post-Should be at least a PG rating with bloody finger on your blog :)I'm really appreciative of people who do trailblazing work.I'm one of those hikers who would surely be lost without markers.

poetrychic2002 said...

I was just on the Lookout Trail with Jenny two weeks ago and your arrows were lovely :)