Well guess what, it's here. And just like every year in central Ohio, we basically bypassed the pleasant upper 60s and low 70s for screaming hot and humid 90s. It happens every year.
It was hot and humid earlier this week, then Thursday afternoon it rained. I was hoping the storm would pass before the walking group was to meet at Sharon Woods, and it did. But it didn't cool it down any. In fact, it seemed like all the rain was evaporating right up off the hot pavement and lingering in the air.
When I got to the park, the group was already making their way around the loop. As I walked in the opposite direction to meet up with them, I thought about winter. I thought about being stuck in the house. I thought about ice on the path and gray skies and no sun. And although the air was humid, suddenly I didn't mind. At the end of the walk, we were seriously sweaty. We chatted and drank water and mopped our brows, and I know everyone left the park that day feeling really good about what they had accomplished.
Friday, my friend Sara and I decided to check out Clear Creek MetroPark in Lancaster. We loaded up our Camelbaks with water and headed down route 33. Our plan was to get a long walk in at the hotter part of the day, around 4:30. As we pulled into the park, we noticed there was only one other car in the lot. There was also a rather dark cloud moving our way overhead. We loaded our backpacks, looked at the map and headed for the trail.
We found the trailhead easily and started the hike and right away, it was a climb. No flat warm-up here. Instead it was climbing up, up, up through a very thick forest on a really beautiful trail. My heart rate monitor was on and it was also going up, up, up. Then...lightening. And a little thunder roll. We were already about fifteen minutes into the woods. Sara said, "It will probably go right past us." Lightening KABOOM.
That was a close one! Just then, rain. OK so we're in a park an hour away from Columbus getting rained on, there isn't another soul in the park that we could see (except maybe the person who was playing the trumpet in the distance), and a storm was above us. Lightening KABOOM.
We stop and laugh. What else can you do.
Then a close one hits. I mean close. The kind where the lightening and the thunder come at the same time. Lightening KABOOM. I put my hands over my head and duck for cover. Holy crap! I start having falling tree flashbacks. Sara's laughing and so am I. Again, what else can you do. Then a lightening with a two count break before the further away kaboom. "Yay, it's moving further away", I say. Lightening KABOOM!
Well, the storm does finally pass and we end up having an amazing hike. Wet and a bit buggy, but one I will never forget. It wasn't hot like we hoped, it certainly wasn't dry. But I burned 1208 calories and spent 2 hours and 11 minutes in my zone. We drove home feeling awesome and will definitely be going back.
Saturday the walking group met at Highbanks at 9:15 AM. When I checked the weather forecast, it looked like clear skies until early afternoon. I asked a few friends to join me at 10:30 for a second loop around, so my plan was for 9 miles total.
The walking group finished in an hour and ten minutes and it was awesome. A little sprinkle but nothing to worry about and a great calorie burn. The average burn for that hike is between 500 - 700 calories. After I said goodbye to the women from the walking group, I met my friends Kelley and Sara for round two. (Yes, same Sara as Friday.)
We looked around at the sky and said, "Looks like it will hold off until we're done."
About thirty minutes in, we started getting a little rain. It felt kind of nice after walking for so long. We were at a point where we could either take a cut-through and be back to the car in about 7 minutes, or we could head away from the parking area deeper into the woods for the 2.5 mile loop that would take another 35 minutes or so. We took a vote and decided unanimously to keep going.
It started to rain hard. We laughed harder.
Then it poured. Buckets. Gallons. Waterfalls.
We were soaked. Water was pouring off my hat in torrents. Kelley got rain in her contact lens and was hiking with that eye closed. Lord have mercy we had water dripping from our eyelids, nose, ears, clothes, shoes. As it poured, puddles started to form on the trails so that we were now slosh-sloshing through them. Then we encountered a group of three young girls around the age of I'd say 11 or 12. They were sloshing and laughing loudly and singing and playing in the rain. And I think we all remembered. This isn't something we need to be protected from. This is AWESOME. We won't melt. This is good stuff.
I worry when the news warns us to stay inside on a 90 degree summer day. Heat advisory? I get it. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are no joke. Hydration is important. Sunscreen is important. Severe weather advisory? I understand. I have had a tree fall on me. But there is a way to be out there smart and not miss the sunshine. There is a way to be out there and not miss the walks. The blue skies. The wildflowers. The summer. There is a way to be out there and not miss the rain. Trust me, don't miss the rain.