199: An interesting 5k

(Near the starting point.)

Well, I have to say…  that was a rather interesting (and sometimes strange) 5k.  M and I, in our quest to better know the area in which we live (filed under “local tourists”), decided to take a 5.1 mile hike at Portage Lakes State Park.  We have driven past it on the highway numerous times, always with one of us remarking, “We ought to go hiking there sometime.”

I guess we can check that one off of our list.

(Note:  We were hiking a 5k as participants in Automattic’s Worldwide WP 5k.)

(The start of the Shoreline Trail.)

Someone turned up the heat today.  They turned it WAY up.  Even now it is still in the 80s and incredibly humid.  It feels more like August than April.  We started our hike around 11:30am, and it was warm and humid then.  As someone I overheard remarked, our blood thickens in the winter.  We’re not quite ready for this kind of heat.  It felt good for a little while, especially since the sun was shining on us.  It didn’t take long, though, to work up a good sweat.

There were plenty of signs of spring, some of which seemed to be bursting out as we watched, as if this warm-up suddenly brought everything to life.  I half expected to see flowers push up out of the dirt and unfurl themselves in a time-lapse photography way.  Thankfully that didn’t happen, as things were odd enough at the beginning of our hike.

We didn’t see much shoreline in that first mile or so.  And things were a bit confusing regarding the map and where we actually were at the start, but we soon figured it out.  We were taking the trail in the opposite direction than originally planned.  No problem.  It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.  The thing is, I carry a walking stick with a compass.  You’d think we’d check that first.  But in our excitement to start hiking, we find a trail, start walking, and then someone looks at the map and says, “hmmm.”

We had several companions along the way, the first being a crow who wanted to show us the way to the lake.  After listening to the crow caw at us for a little while, I finally asked it to show us the way and oddly enough, it flew off in that direction.  Thank you, Brother Crow.  (We would have found it on our own as there was no other way to go at that point, but I think it’s more fun, and appropriate, to give the crow credit.)

(What are these strange signs?)

We also encountered planets on our hike, placed at what appeared to be odd spots, but there might be rhyme or reason behind it I don’t know about.

After passing Uranus and Neptune, with M ahead of me as usual (because I had been stopping to take photos of the planets), I heard a rustling in the grass just to the right of the path I was walking.  I thought it might be a squirrel or a chipmunk.

It was a nest of snakes.  None of my photos managed to capture the true slinky, slithering, winding, mass of snakes (garter snakes, I think) balled together.  If I’d been thinking, I’d have used video because it was pretty cool to watch.  The warm weather must have woken them up.

Look towards the right, in the center, of the above photo and you’ll see one of the snakes looking right at the camera.  Or at me.  Same difference, I suppose.

So.  That was cool and something neither M nor I had ever seen before, but I have to admit that it was also a little bit creepy.  I’m not afraid of snakes, really.  Seeing them slithering around in a ball like that, though… a little creepy in an Indiana Jones film kind of way.

We knew we were getting close to a lake when we encountered geese.  They walked with us for a little while, honking at us occasionally, either to make sure we were still with them or as a way of asking us to leave.  I’m not sure.  I suspect the latter.

Things took a really strange turn after that.  The trail would veer off onto loops that would take us near the lake and then away from it again, making us feel like we were going in circles.  We probably were at times.  Given how well marked the trail was (either with posts or blazes) in some spots, I’m surprised they didn’t have some signage at the junctions.  It would have helped.  No matter.  We plodded along on the mushy, muddy trail, and got where we needed to go.

We could hear geese fighting out on the water (lots of splashing and honking going on), but couldn’t see them.  And then…

Let’s look at that from the other side, shall we?

(SL = Shoreline, a trail marker.)  M and I both guessed deer skull.  I’m not sure what else it could be.  It surprises me that no one has walked off with it, and taken it home.  I’m pretty sure it’s not attached to the post.

The plot thickens.  Not really.  The air did, humidity rising with the temperature.  I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the trail where we found the skull with the white balance set to open shade and the exposure low enough to make things look dark and spooky.  Snakes and skulls deserve a little spookiness, don’t you think?

We finally reached one of the lakes, and the hike lightened up after that.  No more skulls or snakes (that we were aware of) and we started seeing other people out and about, especially on the lake where there were plenty of boats and folks fishing.

The trail became greener, as well.  At this point we were only about 15 minutes away from completing the 5k portion of the hike.

We made our way up a hill and then back down to the beach, where we met our next companions on the hike:

M checked the pedometer when we sat down at one of the picnic tables and we had gone exactly 3.1 miles.  Mission accomplished.  We couldn’t rest on our laurels, though, as we had to make our way back to where we parked the car which meant another 2 miles of hiking.

After having a small snack and resting our legs a bit, the male mallard reminded us that we needed to be on our way so off we went where we encountered…

Well, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that.  It’s nearly dinner time and I really should be taking care of that instead of blogging.

Have a seat on a bench here at the beach and I’ll see you again tomorrow with the rest of the saga.  It probably won’t be nearly as interesting as today’s chapter.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.


37 Comments on “199: An interesting 5k”

  1. Kel says:

    that nest of slithery snakes gave me the heeby jeebies

    perhaps the skull remains there for the same reason a cross-shaped sculpture we created several years ago remains in the sand dunes, people can be superstitious about such things

    • Robin says:

      To be honest, Kel, those snakes gave me the heeby jeebies too. I don’t mind one snake so much, but seeing a group of them, slithering around like that. Makes me shudder just to think of it.

      I hadn’t thought of it that way. Superstition could account for it.

  2. That certainly was an interesting walk! Much more interesting and entertaining than any of mine all week! But at least mine were air-conditioned, although I worked up quite a sweat, too!
    Great job walking more than just the 5k, I think that deserves extra points 😉

  3. Congratulations to both of you for completing the 5K! I did quite a bit of walking yesterday, but I don’t have any idea how far it was. I also didn’t see much wildlife at all – except the birds at the bird feeder. It WAS incredibly humid today – not sure if I was quite ready for that….

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Holly. 🙂

      I wasn’t quite ready for the humidity either. I kept telling myself, “At least it isn’t snow.” lol!

  4. Dawn says:

    Great hike. I’m sitting on that bench waiting to hear the rest…

  5. CMSmith says:

    The snakes are kind of creepy-cool.

  6. Meredith says:

    Yeah, that’s WAY more interesting than my 5ks have been in the past. That skull is weird – it looks like whatever it was had quite the nose. Maybe Toucan Sam? (shh, though, don’t tell Marty I said that)

  7. Bo Mackison says:

    Wow, what an adventure…and there is more? Ooooh–slithery snakes. You enjoy them all you want. I’ve seen one rattlesnake and that should last me for a decade or so. And the skull- maybe you’ll be the next Georgia?? 🙂

    • Robin says:

      The rest of the adventure wasn’t nearly as exciting, Bo, but it was fun. 🙂

      Sometimes Ohio is very close to being Georgia… without the accents.

  8. Kala says:

    What a hike you had Robin! Snakes, a deer skull on a wood marker, and signs marking planets along the way. My walk today was not nearly as interesting. 🙂

  9. sherri says:

    a lovely and intriguing tour you’ve shared. i remember growing up the only snake i’d ever seen was a garter snake. after moving to the south, watching out for snakes became a task for survival because of the venomous varieties. (the balled up snakes may have been breeding. it’s spring:-) Love how the trees arch over the path. makes it feel like a tunnel of sorts or an arbor for an outdoor wedding.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Sherri. 🙂

      I’ve been wondering if we have any poisonous snakes here in Ohio. I should look into that, with all the hiking I do.

  10. What an adventure. I LOVE the picture of the trail. I don’t think it looks spooky, more like mysterious, one of those forests people walk into in the movies.
    I don’t think it could have gotten much spookier than snakes and skulls, but I can’t wait to know what you found later.

  11. You had a far more interesting hike than I did. Everything is still very brown and dull. Did see some deer, live ones, and signs of budding on trees and shrubs. Probably will be another 2 to 3 weeks before things really pop. Very little in the way of green stuff growing and no snakes or frogs both of which I saw in last November on the same trail. That was also the last time the temps were over 70 degrees, too. Six months ago.

  12. Hate to say it, Robin, but the photo of the snakes is a little freaky! Yikes!

    It’s been intensely warm and humid here this weekend, as well–actually too warm.

    Hope your week gets off to a great start!

    Kathy

  13. Kudos to you–taking photos AND walking too! Great photos of nature although the snakes gave me the heebie-jeebies! (Is that even a word?)

  14. subha says:

    a snake! ack! your walk looks so beautiful – congrats on doing it! looks like you had good quality time with M as well, which is always great!
    by the way, i love the new header (but i think the reflected trees were my favorite!)

  15. Karma says:

    Hey where’s the picture of the participants at the 3.1 mile mark???? 😉
    Definitely creepy on the snakes. One little garden snake can spook me (though not enough to go screaming away or anything like that) but a whole next would probably have me good and jittery1

    • Robin says:

      Sorry, Karma. I looked so awful after our walk that I immediately deleted all pics of me. My hair was frizzy, my face was sweaty and red from the heat and humidity, and I’m vainer than I thought. lol! M doesn’t want anything to do with going public on the internet (which is why I don’t use his full name or put up close-up photos of him) so I couldn’t use any photos of him (no matter how good he looked after the hike).

      I wasn’t too comfortable with that nest of snakes. I took a few photos as fast as I could and practically jogged away.

  16. Derrick says:

    The markers for the planets could have had something to do with showing relative distance from the sun…

    Good for you for walking and getting going!! But really, 80 degrees was hot!? LOL…

    Love the story with the pics, they make for a great tale!

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Derrick. 🙂

      80 degrees is hot for us thick-blooded folks who put up with lots of snow and ice over the winter months. Sometimes 50 feels like a heatwave. lol!

  17. Karma says:

    Oh, and I meant to say, but forgot, I bet the planets are set up on some sort of scale of distance. In school with our 6th graders, we do a “planet walk” out in the hallway to give them a better idea of just how far away the outer planets are in comparison to Earth and the inner planets.

  18. Barbara Rodgers says:

    I like the picture with the snake looking right at your camera! What an interesting trek you had!


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