We get to the Valley, to the parking lot at Blue Hen Falls. And I realize: What the? How did? I forgot my coat. It is 27 degrees with a wind chill of 23. I am from the South and simply cannot be outside in the winter for extended periods. No way can I go for a hike. Meanwhile, also: No way am I driving 37 minutes back home without hiking. And so we have two “no ways” here in direct conflict with each other. So I take a look at the rest of me. I see I am otherwise well-prepared, with a good hat, my sister Sue’s homemade scarf, gloves, ski pants and my trusty Keen hiking boots. (Best investment ever for hiking. Go to Wild Earth in Kent. They have sales.) And I’m wearing this super warm sweater I got 15 years ago at Kohl’s that I thought I lost that I just found the other day. Can I do this? Surprise: I can. I was out for an hour and never got cold.
Silver linings playbook: The reason, I believe, I forgot my coat is because I needed to learn that being outdoors in the winter can be exhilarating and fun, even on the tundra. Direct conflict motto: Be prepared. Flip side motto: If you’re not prepared, try it anyway and you might surprise yourself. Also: You never know what nature has to teach you.
On this day, we chose Blue Hen Falls to hike — mainly because it snowed the night before and into the morning and it was cold, so I knew there would be icicles and frozen water, which would be fun to photograph. We hiked to the falls, where Steve braved to tiptoe close to the edge above the falls so I could get perspective against the falls. This was despite his fear of heights. He is such a good hiking companion, accommodating my every whim, including, occasionally when I can let it go, carrying one or two of my cameras for me.
And then I tiptoed up and got close to the edge so I could get some closeups of the falls, much to Steve’s fear (love this face). I wasn’t too impressed with the closeups, the panoramic is more to my liking.
Name: Blue Hen is named for the female blue heron.
Where in the world: Near the intersection of 271 and 80, making it a little traffic-noisy, unfortunately….Here’s the map.
We crept along the edge and then walked north above the falls on top of the frozen Spring Creek bed, and could hear the ice creaking and groaning as we walked. As I am from the South, I have never really understood nor wanted to understood the concept of walking on frozen water. This was a little freaky and fascinating at the same time. I didn’t do it for long. Steve did, though, and he popped through the ice twice and got his boot soaked. But he felt victorious and so happy to be outside with me in the winter, it didn’t matter.
So coming into Blue Hen, there are a couple of things to consider doing: You can go down the path, it’s an old driveway about half a mile long steep going down (steep down on the way there means steep up on the way back) and across this pretty bridge to the falls. and stop right there and hang out. There’s also just above the falls another trailhead for the Buckeye Trail, which in totality is 1,400 miles circling the state of Ohio. Here in the Valley, it’s four miles from this spot to the Boston Mills Visitor’s Center.
FUN HIKE SOME OTHER TIME: We thought that would be a fun hike sometime, to take two cars in the Valley, park one at Boston Mills, both of us get in the other car and park it here at Blue Hen and then hike to Boston Mills, get in the other car together and drive back to Blue Hen and pick up the car.
For this day and this hike, we walked to the falls, then north along the creek bed back to the bridge there, where we saw some happy joggers. Ever notice how people who hike in the winter look so happy.
Then we went on up the (steep start) Buckeye for 20 minutes to this clearing where the sun was just starting to peak out. It was so pretty. And warm enough! Toby loved it, too. He’s 12 but has the look of a puppy when he’s romping in the snow.
Thanks for reading. Happy almost February and happy birthday, national parks.