A Snowy Hike

Snowy hike with dogs at West Branch State Park, Ohio
Hiking with the pups

Today was our 31st day in a row of hiking! We have logged over 74 miles of trails in the past 30 days. Not bad for January. The unseasonably mild weather has accommodated us.

This afternoon’s hike was a snowy one. Our area of northeast Ohio was fortunate to get only a few inches from yesterday’s snow storm. Other areas faired much worse than we did. It was still enough to slow us down a bit. We humans had to look for rocks, roots, and branches buried underneath the snow and just waiting to trip us up. The long-haired dogs, Shelby, Zekie, and Claire, had to stop repeatedly to chew snowballs from the back of their legs. Shelby in particular seemed to stop suddenly and plunk herself down in front of me on the trail, especially where it was only one track wide. 

Another trail hazard was the areas that had thin sheets of ice, frozen over running water. None of these were more than a couple of inches deep, so it was the element of surprise as you dropped through the ice and had to step out that was the issue, rather than any danger. This does help you to see how important it is to have the proper footwear for the conditions you are out in. Fortunately, I had chosen to wear my L.L. Bean Wildcat boots, so I was in good shape.

Snowy hike at West Branch State Park, Ohio
Ice on West Branch State Park Reservoir, Ohio (Trail View)

I also plan carefully what gloves and coat I will wear. Usually, at this time of year I wear my mid-thigh length storm parka. The terrain we covered today had lots of winding paths as well as ups and downs. Even though it was about 30 degrees, I got hot enough that for the last quarter of the hike I had my coat unzipped and my gloves in my pocket. Of course, I was also wearing a turtleneck and a hooded sweatshirt under my parka. Layering is king for outdoor activities in the winter time.

West Branch State Park Reservoir, Ohio
Another view from the trail of the frozen reservoir at West Branch State Park, Ohio

The types of trails at West Branch State Park, near Ravenna, Ohio are varied. There are mountain bike trails, snow mobile trails, and of course, hiking trails. There is something for everyone and you can walk on any of the trails. Be aware that as this is a multi-purpose park, you should be aware of your surroundings at all times in case you come across bicycles or other vehicles. Hunting is allowed, in season, so be prepared. That is why Cassius’ new collar is very bright. A New Collar For Cassius

Although the trails were snow covered, we all had a good time. The views are beautiful and the squinch of the new fallen snow is pleasing to the ear. The dogs like to occasionally grab up mouthfuls of snow and swallow them. Rather like the doggy version of snow ice cream.

We have been noticing a lot of bird activity in the past week although I am not sure why. Perhaps they are having more trouble finding food this late in the winter. This is just a guess on my part. I only know for sure that I have seen increased numbers of birds flitting around, sometimes groups of birds, and they often sing. They are medium sized songbirds, at least a few were robins.

Trail map for West Branch State Park, Ohio
Trail map for West Branch State Park, Ohio

Here is a photograph I took of the trail map from trailhead entrance beside the mountain bike trail. The hike we took today was the squiggly blue line next to the water. It is fun because you are able to see the water for the majority of the time you are hiking.

I encourage you to try hiking in every season. What you see varies depending on the time of year. We tend to think of winter as a lean time with less plants. It is the perfect time to see the structure of the woods. I notice things that I never see in the summer because then they are covered with leaves and undergrowth. Each season has its own beauty. See which one you like best. Maybe, like me, you will decide you like them all.

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