I had a bit of an adventurous hike today. Boston Mills visitor center to Blue Hen Falls and back, but by a “soulful” route.
I hadn’t gone the route from Boston Mills to Blue Hen since it was put in. I was thinking of doing something a bit rigorous today and decided to give it a try. I had gone on the Dogwood yesterday and was having second thoughts, but pushed on. It was a fairly nice and wide path of solid and well cared for dirt, but a workout with the ups and downs. There was a bit of mud but nothing deep or slippery. Plenty of people and dogs out on it today.
Right across the road was a house my cousin considered buying, but it had looked like it needed a lot of work and things fell through. Would’ve been right close Boston Mills, the park, and us though if he had gotten it.
A bit down the road and across was Blue Hen Falls. It was not as big as Brandywine, but was frozen over and interesting enough. I felt tired and stood there looking at it for a while.
There was a sign that said something like “End of Blue Hen Trail” that had what looked like more trail beyond it. A couple had come up from that way. Before I had gotten to Blue Hen, there had been a left turn, the Jaite trail, four miles. I thought this must be the other end of that trail and it must go in a loop. Feeling rested and ambitious, I decided to head down it to see where it went.
The trail quickly became much rougher than it had been previously. Narrower, dirt and mud and ice, clambering over things. No people were there, at least for a while. Plenty of trees. I saw a hawk or buzzard and a pileated woodpecker.
I came to a creek crossing. There were some stones on it but not really the normal easily stepped across spacing. It was covered in ice, and I had to step on that to get across. There would be four more crossings before I was done, all harder than this one. It wasn’t always easy to see where to go next until I spotted the trail across the creek.
A guy caught up with me at one of the crossings. We both were looking for a spot to cross and he said he wasn’t sure where to go. He found a spot that had a big rock in the middle and decent stepping spacing, but a bank on the other side. He stepped on the rock, then hopped onto the bank and grabbed on. After some though, I took the same route, but went a bit slower. There was a tree on the bank so I grabbed onto that and pulled myself across.
There was another falls, Butter something Falls, very frozen over. I took pictures from above, and, following the trail, ended up below as well. There were also a nice icicle covered bank on the other side by the top.
There was another, larger creek crossing here. The guy who had gone first looked at it and then headed back. I saw the trail on the other side though and footprints in the snow, and was determined to continue on, figuring I didn’t want to go back across those previous crossings if I didn’t have to. I had to clamber down a narrow spot on the tall bank on that side. There was a tiny island there easy to make it across to, but then wider iced over water that looked much thinner than the stuff so far. I found some rocks on the bank and set them out as stepping stones. Even with them, the ice was really flexing beneath me. I carefully stepped and balanced, and then hopped the last bit.
A couple was coming up on me from behind as I was making it across. They said they’d follow my lead, so I pointed out the spot I came down the bank at, and set out a couple more rocks on the ice to make it easier for them, telling them it was a bit thin. They made it across as I walked on ahead.
I had been seeing the top of the lift at Boston Mills Ski Resort on the left, and as we went on, one appeared on the right. I started thinking that we might have to turn back, or maybe there was a pathway somewhere through the middle of the ski area somewhere. We came across another creek crossing that looked narrow but difficult. I waited for them to catch up and we discussed how to cross. Finally we decided on a spot. This one we had to clamber down a bank holding a root, stepping onto a rock, then stepping right into the creek before getting onto the ice coming from the other side. Luckily my boot was water proof. We made it.
We walked on and it became more and more clear were coming toward the ski area between two hills. There were still some tracks from people and a dog, though much fewer than before. There were some fences to the sides, so we hoped maybe there was a fenced off walkway. We were so close to the visitor center and going back would be much much longer.
So we walked up right next to the bottom of one of the lifts, with lots of people busy getting on there. They watched us pass. We continued on and came to a crossing near the bottom of the hill where skiers were going across. I had to wait to let two skiers go by. The lodge, particularly the med area, was right across. The couple asked how to get out of there, and a guy said we could go through a fenced off “Not an Exit” path. We had to clamber up an icy hill, but soon we were out.
The couple thanked me for the fun experience, and headed towards the visitor center. That was where I was going to though, so I followed a bit behind. I was tired at that point so went slow. It was still a decent walk along the whole parking lot and then waiting for a break in all the traffic to cross Riverview to get back to the center.
I went over to the visitor center, in, and the ranger lady in there asked if she could help me. I asked about the Blue Hen trail, and she starting talking about the trail itself as if I were wanting to go on it. When I got a chance, I said that I had just gone on it. She asked about the muddiness level and I told her. I then mentioned there was the “End…” sign and asked her about the trail beyond. She said it was a “soulful” trail that visitors had created themselves. The Butter something Falls was along it, but actually in the Ski Resort’s property. She said the park preferred people didn’t go there and that the Ski Resort didn’t like it much. I mentioned the Jaite trail and she showed it on the map, a straight trail headed toward Brecksville. She was very nice and I thanked her.
As I came out and headed toward the parking, I came across the couple again. I told them a very brief synopsis of what the ranger said. They thanked me and said it was enjoyable, and said bye. To not be following them again, I went by the river and looked out at it for a bit, then headed to my car. I think they were parked right across from me, and left shortly after I got to my car, but I don’t know that they saw me.
It was an adventure and good exercise. I enjoyed it, though I probably won’t be going down that way again.