Day 2 of our jaunt to South Central Ohio began with a sunny and brisk morning in the Caboose cabin. Thanks to the central heating system we woke up toasty even though it was still cool outside. We were able to take warm showers and cook our breakfast sandwiches in the microwave before heading out for the day. I’d stay there again, but would definitely bring more blankets and my own pillow.
Our first stop on day two of our trip was Ash Cave. It’s a lovely walk on paved trails among the trees just starting to bud out. It’s nice because the gorge is so flat and open that up until the cave opening it is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Daredevils that they are my husband and kids trekked across the streams on fallen trees while I stood back and took pictures just hoping no one fell in the mud or hurt themselves.
It was beautiful to see the falls at Ash Cave. Like I mentioned in my first post the last two times we had been to Hocking Hills there was little to no water running because of drought and the next time everything being frozen. I don’t know what it’s like down there right now, but I don’t think we could have picked a better time to go. We finally were able to take the stairs on the far side of Ash Cave up to the Rim Trail whereas last time we couldn’t because it was iced over and too slippery. My daughter and I both fell on our bums and had to scoot our way to unfrozen ground to get our footing last time. This time we almost got lost.
Apparently, heading North (I think) from the center of the Rim Trail takes you to a fire tower deeper in the park. Problem was we didn’t have a map to know how far it was from Ash Cave. It was getting pretty close to lunchtime and we didn’t want to have the girls too far away from where we parked if the time came that they got too tired, cranky and hungry to walk all the way back. So, we chose to turn back to the rim and go back and not a moment too soon. Just as we made the choice to turn around our youngest declared she needed to go to the bathroom. Turned out OK because by the time we got down to the bottom everyone was hungry.
Aside from packing your own lunch or driving all the way out to Logan the choices for dining within Hocking Hills are few and far between. We did find a hidden gem though not far from Ash Cave. Really it was less than a half mile away. It’s called the Grouse Nest. There are cabins and apparently a small hotel there because when we arrived there were guests relaxing in a common area watching TV adjacent to the restaurant. It was shortly after 11:30 AM so only the chef and sous chef were there to tend to guests. We were the only ones there for the whole lunch time. I got a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, our oldest got grilled salmon, the other half of which was given to our youngest as a sandwich (5 and 8 and they love salmon, pretty cool), and my husband got a grilled cheese sandwich with Venison Chili and a beer. They offered us house made kettle chips as an appetizer. They were OK; a little on the greasy, over done side.
One thing that made my husband perk up was that they offered free WiFi and our phones had intermittent access to 4G. It’s a bad habit any of us with a SmartPhone has (don’t try to deny it ), but as soon as he had internet access he was checking his email and responding to messages and of course reading up on what he’d missed on USA Today. He felt bad about it but once we were done with lunch we spent the rest of the day paying attention to each other and the nature around us, even if it was a little bit by force.
It was OK, but there is only so much detail you can see on a zoomed in picture. Despite his not wanting to he agreed to take me back to the camp store next to the ranger station at Old Man’s Cave. I’m really, really glad we did. I bought a map and he decided to go check on his trailer that had been sitting in the parking lot overnight. As we drove by we could see a ranger poking around the trailer and talking to someone on his radio. OH, CRAP. Well, right away he went down to talk to the officer. He said he was a little gruff and matter of fact at first, upset that the trailer had been left there overnight and that the night ranger had not called it in on his patrol. By the time we got there the officer had already called in the plates and was getting ready to ask for the trailer to be towed. My husband explained that we were just there overnight and had no other place to park the trailer and figured it would be safe here – it’s not like we were camping in it. He informed us that the rental agency for the cabin should have provided parking for it and next time we need to make arrangements to keep it off state ground. Now we know better. It was super hard to not say, “I told you so.” Making him drive back to the camp store saved him a ticket, tow and a fine. Maybe he’ll listen a little closer to me without arguing as much next time. I can dream can’t I ;).
In any event the ranger allowed us to leave the trailer there for the remainder of the afternoon with the promise we’d be leaving the area before evening. A little less stressed we decided to go to Rock House which was steep and a little scary to climb down, but absolutely fantastic. It was amazing to see how the elements and thousands of people’s feet and hands over the years had worn down the rocks and disturbed the growth of even the moss and lichen. Rock House looked like a great place to hide in a storm. Walking out of Rock House was a tougher circuit than we had thought at first. It was steep and winding with quite a few stairs. Since I’m the weakling of the bunch I kept getting left behind.
Thankfully, we’d packed water bottles to keep everyone hydrated. It was a little warmer today than the day before so we got HOT fast. When we got back up to the top we realized we still weren’t done, we had to climb back up to the upper lot where we’d parked. We just sat for a few minutes enjoying the breeze and a rest and watching an old man in short shorts speed walk around the parking lots, lol.
Our next planned hike was Cantwell Cliffs. We all piled in the car and went on our way. Thanks to the map I’d bought we didn’t get lost this time. When we got to the Cantwell Cliffs entrance it was blocked off. They were spraying the trees for some kind of beetle. I was both disappointed and relieved. In all the times we’ve visited either because of time, weather or bug spraying I have not gotten to visit Cantwell Cliffs. Next time. . . I hope. Defeated we decided to go hitch up the trailer and head North. So, now on to Columbus. . . and the saga continues.
Do you enjoy hiking while on vacation or are you more of a relax on the beach or by the pool kind of traveler? Or do you do a little of both?