Category Archives: Mohican State Park

Loitering in Autumn

Autumn always leaves me wanting more. It’s the appetizer-sized season that usually has me eying adjacent months for just a little more of the same.

This year it seemed to linger a little longer. As I’ve hit my favorite running trails this past week, bright splashes of color can still be found amongst the architecture of bared trees. It was one lovely last breath of crisp air under a warm sun. Fairly soon, the exhale will be a puff of frosty vapor.

At this time last year, a friend and I stole away to Mohican State Park for a midweek hike. No crowds. No maps or cell signals either, but we still managed to find the rusty red fire tower and a couple of hiking trails. We explored a little, climbing down to a waterfall with a massive tree root structure for handholds, and picnicked at the Pleasant Hill Dam.

More of an amble than a race, it was Fall at a savoring pace.

Updated from November 15, 2010.

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Season’s Sayonara

Segueing into a new season can feel similar to returning from a trip. The memories of where you just were may be vivid, but the visible evidence lies only in memories and, maybe, a few photographs.

Last month’s hike around Mohican State Park isn’t so distant on the calendar, but the vibrantly colored leaves that drew us out on that day are already well on their way to becoming the mulch for next spring’s seedlings.

I like to look forward.  Rear view mirrors are meant for quick glances, not a prolonged focus. Tomorrow always holds the biggest possibilities, even when frozen and dusted by snow.  And like so many elements of our life… seasons return.  The lingering memories will, before long, turn in simple anticipation of what is just ahead.

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Mohican State Park: Climbing the Fire Tower

For Matt, Sunday afternoon was all about the fire tower.

I was merely aiming for a state park hike, reluctant to face the crowds that flock to the Hocking Hills on a “peak” color weekend. I promised Matt some football time and tossed out the possibility of checking out one of the park lookout towers. The chance to climb high above it all appealed to my nine-year old youngest boy. Which took me right back to Mohican (State Park)…

We gathered our essentials after church: food, football, my camera… and began driving north. Rich golds and intense reds had settled into the treetops with mature assurance. When we finally exited the interstate and began snaking our way through farmlands, edged by the remnant woods of their origin, I began fielding variations of “are we there yet”? I was already “there”, but I knew what Matt was aiming at…

After a couple of unplanned “let’s see what this is!” stops, we found the tower. All eighty feet of it. I had told Matt that the structure would rise far above the trees, but the height obviously surprised him a little. As did the warning sign that no more than six people should be on the structure simultaneously…

My Matt is a thinker. We made it up a couple of abruptly steep flights of weathered steps, and then he turned to me. I knew exactly the pit-of-the-stomach chill he was experiencing. I get it too sometimes. Which is precisely why I climb rock walls and descend cliffs and venture into caves. It’s why I run faithfully and gratefully on my surgically-enhanced ankle and why I kayaked (and canoed) with a fully bandaged leg this past summer (shhh). Because I never want trepidations to own me… I don’t want fear to generate false parameters for my kids either.

Mohican State Park; firetower (looking down)There are no definitive answers to “What if…?” Sometimes limits must be established by pressing a shoulder into our own discomfort. It was one of those instinctive parenting moments where you pray that you’ll know how hard to push and how soon to let it all go. Our children have significant pieces of us embedded deep within, but the rest is so much mystery at times. Only they can know. We can only help them discover.

I reminded him of how excited he’d been to attain the fire spotter’s view from the top. We looked at just how far the next flight stretched up before us. He thought he could make that. I agreed and offered him a dollar if he made it to the top (I know! Questionable motivation… But that method works so well whenever I lose my car keys!!). I was keenly aware of our rising altitude myself with adrenaline clarifying each breath and a crisp breeze giving sway to the structure. But it was quite simply, beautiful. Sometimes, that is motivation enough.

Matt made it all the way to the final platform at the top. We huddled into the tiny space and savored the view. Matt carefully snapped a photo by which to remember his moment and then proudly climbed the final planks to touch the highest point he could reach. It was clear as he turned to grin down at me that he had travelled much further than a mere eighty vertical feet.

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