Always In My Heart - Sagamore Creek
This is my favorite hike at the moment. There are parts where I really feel in the woods, and because of the varied, beautiful scenery I like to pretend I’m like Anne of Green Gables, giving unique, totally overblown names to all the different sections.
When I started hiking again, I was self-conscious and had a lot of anxiety about it. I had to go slowly, take a lot of breaks, and the hiking clothes, while awesome, were still more form fitting than I wore at the time.
Plus, I was a fat girl, all alone, trying to figure out how to be on the trails. I didn’t really want to constantly run in to dudes on the trail that inevitably give me the look. Or would say things in a patronizing manner like, “Only a few more miles to go! Don’t stop, keep working up that sweat!” Uh, thanks random guy.
I wanted to take my dog, enjoy the outside, and figure shit out for myself without worrying about what others were thinking/going to do.
And that’s what Sagamore Creek Loop provided…..
The Sagamore Creek Loop Trail head is located at 7733 Canal Rd, Valley View, OH 44125 (Frazee House Parking Lot) and is part of the Bedford Reservation, near Bedford, OH. The easiest way to access the trail head is behind the outhouse, and take a left when you get to the bottom of the incline.
Note: At the beginning of the hike, you'll pass a place on the right where you can cross the creek. You'll do this at the end of the hike to complete the loop - I mention this because the alternative ending on the other side is NOT crossing the creek, but a muddy bog and ending the hike with a quarter mile walk on a main road.
Accessibility: Not wheelchair accessible.
Sagamore Creek Loop remains, by far, one of my favorite hikes. When I first really managed to get hiking again, Sagamore provided the reclusive atmosphere I yearned for, where I first recognized that I could this outdoor thing, despite the pain/anxiety/etc. It’s the first trail I ever completed a night hike on. It will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Do you have an outdoor space that’s special for you? Leave a comment or drop me line here!
The video at the top of this post is how I envision night hiking - always ready to FLEE. As the days begin to cool and the temperatures drop, the sun dips out of sight faster and faster.
And it's *F83king* scary.
I normally hike alone, which as a misfit hiker, already puts me on high alert thanks to the unique hazards that poses.
This post is specifically about night hiking for beginners......who hit those dark and dusty trails all alllooooonnnne.
If you have an active imagination like I do, you literally think the worst the whole time. Aliens. Monsters. There are two reoccurring images that constantly pop in to my head as I'm hiking in the complete blackness of the forest. First, that I'll turn around and there will be someone just standing on the trail, legs slightly apart and head cocked, and they'll be staring at me. Not moving. Just standing.
The second image is that someone will come running full sprint through the woods at me, like in "Get Out."
The third is it will be like the Blair Witch and I'll stumble upon a cabin in the middle of the woods.
The fourth is I'll be walking, and just keep walking. And walking. And walking. And the trail won't go anywhere. Okay, so maybe more than 2....
The dark has always been an awful and terrifying thing for me, every since my father terrorized my fragile five-year-old mind by stalling the car out on a wood-lined dirt road and yelling about how the Gamork (the monster in the Neverending Story was about to get us. He'd then "manage" to get the car started and would careen down the road to our house. You know, tender moments of parental bonding that last a lifetime.
But as the sun fades quicker, I don't want to find myself limited to hiking on the weekends. I want to still be able to go after work.
So what do I do to prepare myself mentally and so I'm physically safe when I'm out hiking alone?
1. Headlamp: I bring a lightweight headlamp with me, and I make sure I have extra batteries. I use the Black Diamond Spot Lite 160, from REI, which was a cheap $26.00 bucks and has done me well.
2. Know Thy Trail: I wouldn't recommend doing an unfamiliar area in complete darkness. Does it take some of the scary fun out of it? Yes, but losing your footing on some loose shale and snapping your neck falling down a cliff will ALSO put a damper on the fun.
3. Choose Carefully: The trails I head out on at night are ones that are moderately difficult, but not crazily technical. As a night-hiker beginner, I only do trails at night if I've hiked them a number of times in the light, after reading reviews and having an idea of the general safety of the area. I also familiarize myself with the wildlife, so I know what's going to be scuttling around me. Why take chances?
4. Cell Phone: I carry a fully charged cellphone with me so I can call for help if I need to, and it gives me a backup light. If you're going in to really remote areas, get a personal GPS - to figure out the right one for you, check out this article from REI.
5. Implements of Safety: get a small canister of pepper spray. I won't link what I have, because it doesn't have a keychain/way to connect it, and I wish it did. Make sure you can attach it somewhere, because the one instance I really needed it I couldn't get it out of my pocket in time. Pepper spray will help defend against coyotes, dogs, wayward hilljacks, etc. I carry 2 to 4 oz. I also carry a small knife. Though the rule of thumb is if someone/something (i.e. Pennywise) can get that close to you, you're probably &^%$$ anyway.
6. Hike Buddy: Make sure someone knows where you're going, when you start, and when you plan to be done. Every. Single. Time. If nothing else, they talk you down when you see crazy *&^% on the trail at night (see image on right)
7. Hiking Poles: I always use hiking poles, especially in the dark. Helps me keep my footing, and has saved me from tripping and falling a number of times.
*Always take your regular gear, too, like water and a map.
Once I'm on the trail, I check behind me at regular intervals (about every 50 feet). I don't wear ear buds for my book on tape, for two reasons: so night runners, etc. will know there's someone else around and so I can listen more acutely. I also keep an eye out upward for any potential deadfall (branches or trees about to come down on my head).
You want to be extra careful during hunting season, that some yahoo poaching deer doesn't mistake you or your dog for the big kill of the season. Be sure to check local park pages to see what's in season and when. At night, consider reflective gear, too.
Some folks like to turn off their headlamps and hike in complete darkness. That isn't me. Besides my imagination, it's a safety issue for me, as I hike in areas with a lot of rocks and tree roots. And monsters that I want to be able to see coming.
If you're like me, and your imagination can carry you in scary, unhelpful directions, have a phrase you can repeat to redirect your attention. I like a line from Stephen King's "The Stand" - He thrusts his fists against the post and still insist he sees the ghost.
And finally, have fun! Night hiking isn't for everyone, but if you're willing to try it, it is a TOTALLY different experience.
I'll be sure let you know if it gets any less scary!
Do you hike at night? Have a good story of terror in the darkness of the trail? Have any additional tips for hiking at night or have a question? Post away or contact me here!
Donut Worry....Walk Happy
Last weekend I got to try out a new adventure - a 5k, hosted by Hermes Sports & Events. They partnered with Brewnuts, a local Cleveland joint that sells gourmet donuts and beer in a lovely, hipster atmosphere.
I've never done a 5k and wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I figured something hosted by a local donut shop wasn't going to have runners with the intensity of the Boston Marathon. Plus, you got a medal AND a delicious Brewnuts donut afterward. I've been following a runner on Instagram, Mirna Valerio, (themirnavator), a plus-sized runner who does crazy long runs and looks badass doing it, and I thought to myself that it looked hella fun. I convinced my husband, Bill, and friend Ben, to accompany me.
I knew I was going to have to do the 5k a little differently. I'm not supposed to run, if I can avoid it, due to my long-lasting back injury. That meant I was going to have to walk it. And so walk it we did!
It was a beautiful fall day, and once we got going it was almost too warm for the layers we wore.
- No one gave us any weird looks, and we weren't the only ones walking.
- I got a lot of pics with me in them. Usually, I'm the one taking the pictures, partly because I'm not always thrilled with how I look in them. But one of the things I'm working on this year is getting more with me in them, because the memories are more important than how my anxiety-riddled mind THINKS I look in them.
- For $30.00, totally worth it - got a neat shirt, a medal, and a donut (not the one listed below)
- I got to eat a delicious Dolce de Leche, custard-filled donut with caramelized white chocolate and kit kat bits. It was the best <insert expletive> donut I've ever had.
- There wasn't a lot of diversity in the race. There were a couple of us bigger ladies, but I didn't see anyone wearing Pride Pack (my own term for the LBGTQIA++ group), minorities, or differently abled folks. It was primarily white folks in their 20s, or middle-age white folks with their kids for the kids race. (Note: Brewnuts provides a *very* welcoming atmosphere, and are having a Drag Show there tomorrow, Thursday the 24th (2019). Part of this has to do with how the event was advertised, I'm sure, but there's also some other reasons I'll discuss in a future post after I have time to do more research.
- Hiking/Walking Poles - I'd debated taking them, but didn't. It was only "three miles" and I *knew* no one else would have them (one person did!). I should have taken them. Walking on hard sidewalks and blacktop is more difficult for the knees and back. I could have used the support, plus you get a better workout with them.
- Finally, I wish I'd spoken with more people. I don't normally go out and just talk to people, it makes me uncomfortable. But, I'd like to move out of that comfort zone a little more in the hopes of better community building and making more meaningful connections.
I'm glad I did it, despite my nervousness for doing it differently than most everyone else did. It's all about the adventure, right?
I definitely would like to do this in the future. Anyone interested in joining me to walk a 5k? Have you done a 5k? What did you like/not like about it? Let me know in the comments or contact me here!
Misfits and Mayhem...
The blog is finally up and I’m sure there won’t be any technical issues. Really, though, the internet LIED when they said it takes 15 minutes to start a blog. I like to reminisce that something outta the nightmare that was Angel Fire would’ve taken 15 minutes. Also, if you're too young to know what that is, die in a fire.
This started because I wanted a platform to jot some thoughts down about hiking and adventures in general. Over the past decade I've become more interested in hiking and backpacking (only in the last year) - and increasingly frustrated by the lack of access I've experienced.
The more time I spend on the trails and looking in to backpacking information, the more I discover a general lack of inclusivity and access for a number of different groups. As I've walked (usually at a VERY slow pace with my short little legs) the trails in Ohio I can't help but notice what I don't see regularly: fat girls, women of color, the Pride Pack (LBGTQIA++), disabled folks, gear that fits properly, etc. It's also difficult for those of lower economic status to get involved.
And it's a problem.
For example, according to Health Data, nearly two thirds of adults and thirty percent of children in the U.S. are considered to be obese or overweight. There are a LOT of us fatties. And what about all those other groups I mentioned? We should definitely be on the trails. Is it because we can't do it? No. It's not.
I've been told I shouldn't be on the trail because of my back injury. Because I'm fat. That my internal organs would be crushed by the weight of a pack (WTAF, for reals). I've been followed on the trail by weird dudes, and my dogs have been attacked by other dogs that are off the leash. Then there's the absolute nightmare of finding a pack that fits and other appropriate gear.
And that's partly what this blog will be about - showcasing us Misfits that have a deep-seated love of nature and adventure, and some of the struggles it takes to be involved in those adventures.
As such, this page will focus on a number of goals:
I'd also like to mention, everyone's welcome to hang with the Misfit Hikers and Adventuring Co. While certain posts may feature topics like fitting a pack when you have giant ta-ta's (that's not me), a huge booty (that might be me), or no hips at all (most definitely NOT me) the entire point is that everyone should feel welcome on whatever trail or adventure they want to try.
You can feel free to sign up for current blog posts to be conveniently delivered directly to your email when a new one is posted (probably once or twice a week) and follow my Instagram for Insta-updates.
Seriously, sign up...cause who DOESN'T want to see adorable pictures of my dog Lucy (and others to come)...
So welcome to what I hope will be a fun, engaging group of merry Misfits and Adventurers.
If you have a story/experience/pic from the trail or adventure, a question, etc. contact me here be featured!
So what makes you a Misfit Hiker and Adventurer?