The Hocking Hills at Winter’s End

Like a lot of other people, I’m totally ready to leave winter behind at this point. However Bob convinced me to open myself to winter’s beauty once more by hiking in the Hocking Hills this past Friday. It was sunny, but cold (around 20° F, -6.7° C), so we had to bundle up. We visited two attractions in the Hocking Hills State Park: Ash Cave and Cedar Falls. Then we hiked the Gorge Trail in the Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve. To make things easier for ourselves, we reduced our hiking by parking in the nearest parking lot associated with each of our three destinations.

During our visit every little twig had its own layer of snow. As snow melted there were periodic episodes of clouds of snow falling off tree branches or cliff edges from far above our heads.

Ash Cave

Snow falling off the edge of the cliff at Ash Cave.

Snow falling off the edge of the cliff at Ash Cave.

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The American Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

“What are these flower petals?” I asked Deb. They were all over the trail; large petals striped with white, green, and orange. It was mid-May and we were spending a week at Pipestem Resort State Park in West Virginia. It was a hikers paradise. We spent every day on a different trail and that day we were following a trail from the lodge on the rim of Bluestone Gorge all the way down to the river. The striped flower petals were everywhere. Deb didn’t know what they were. We kept a lookout for a flower or bush with matching petals but never found one.

Deb holding a fallen blossom and leaf from a Tuliptree.

Deb holding a fallen blossom and leaf from a Tuliptree.

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Ohio Deer Harvest Visualization

Using public Ohio DNR data I created a visualization of the Ohio deer harvest for the past four seasons. The harvest is shown geographically color coded by county. Hovering the cursor over a county will give the seasonal harvest count for that county. The slide control lets you view four different seasons. Counties are color coded from least deer harvested (light green) to most deer harvested (dark green). The visualization can be viewed here.

Greenville Falls State Scenic River Area

In February 2014 we visited Greenville Falls State Scenic River Area, north of Dayton. It is a 92-acre park, owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources but managed by the Miami County Part District. The falls consist of a scenic, 20-foot cascade in Greenville Creek. The park also features ruins of historical interest, nearly a mile of trail, access to fishing spots, a limestone natural arch, picnic areas, kiosks, interpretive signs, and a port-a-potty.

Zooming in on the falls.

Zooming in on the falls from the bridge that crosses Greenville Creek. The water in the creek was high and moving rapidly from recent rain and melting snow.

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Exploring Old Man’s Cave During the 50th Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike

On the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, the Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike set an attendance record with over 5300 people attending. Five hundred lucky people received a commemorative hiking stick. Bob and I just hiked the Old Man’s Cave portion of the hike this year.

Looking out from Old Man's Cave.

Looking out from Old Man’s Cave.

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