Clearcreek, 17 of 19 parks

The drive from my house took almost an hour, but many features of this hidden jewel in the Hocking Hills area rewarded us for the journey. With Dan’s bum knee that had put him on crutches for a while and my chronic back pain, we chose a trail that was perfectly flat, and you thought the Hocking Hills meant only hilly. Me too, but the Clear Creek Meadows Trail ran very close to a stream.

We might have been early Native Americans trail-blazing in search of food or a home, as we followed the river. But we were not alone in our quest for the perfect place to settle.

Because this day blessed us with blue skies, a playful sun that peeked through the painted leaves of fall, and the soothing sound of gentle waters trickling over the rocks , we encountered several other hikers on the trail. Dan likes to stop and admire the many varieties of asters, phlox, and sun flowers, so he had purchased an app that would help him identify plants and even insects. All he had to do was snap a picture, and the internet identified the flower. We never ceased to be intrigued with this marvelous new toy. That’s how I happened to show off my knowledge of the names of the flowers we passed along the way. It even identified the name of the moss on the tree, as shown in the photo of me touching the moss.

We often stopped, just to listen to the complete silence or to enjoy the music of the waters as they hurried along the shallow river bed. Dan took a picture of the creek as it made a left turn with Dora and me in the foreground. I could have said it was a picture of Dora and me with the creek in the background, but it really featured the creek. Another photo might have captured the meadow which was the top of the trail like a deflated balloon. Here’s where the quietude surrounded us, and where not another sole interrupted this peace. But even when we were back on the Creekside trail, the dogs on leashes and their people were polite and cheerful.

Although this trail had the most foot traffic of all the ones we’ve done so far, this was our favorite of the 17 parks we’ve done, Most of the others had at least one distinctive treasure, but the most awesome feature of this park greeted us as we entered and bid us farewell as we left. A gigantic bolder hovered above the road, ready to come crashing down any minute, so we held our breaths as we drove under it.

It was a poem of a day—one that healed my soul.

I want to end with what Dan felt about today’s adventure. “Mary, I so enjoyed our outing today! It is such a privilege to witness the relationship you share with Dora. The service she provides you and the love and affection you give to her. Such a wonderful partnership that warms my heart. The environment was glorious today. A great way to ease back into walking.” Ease? We did almost 3.5 miles.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

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