My last day (for two weeks, at least) was today, with a revised goal of hitting Camp Widewater. Let me back up. When I originally planned this hike, today would have been a 20-miler (32.2 km) from Oak Openings to Napoleon. But I learned there was a recent reroute that added 10-12 miles (16.1-19.3 km) to the hike. I’ve done 30+ mile days before (48.3 km), but they’re not fun. And my left knee has been sore. So I decided to end at Camp Widewater, as Marianne recommended.
Today was supposed to be dry – finally! – although still chilly. That was fine with me. I followed Marianne to Camp Widewater, where we dropped my car. Then she drove me back to the end of Oak Openings, where I left off yesterday. Within minutes, I was off.
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Destination: Camp Widewater
After a short road walk, the trail rejoins the Wabash Cannonball Trail. (My parents later told me “Wabash Cannonball” was a song. I found this version by Johnny Cash online.) Anyway, the first several miles on this trail were along a blacktopped path. When you hit Waterville, there’s an unpleasant hike along Hwy. 64. But these things can’t be helped when building a long-distance trail.
While I was on Hwy. 64, the wind picked up and it began to rain. I covered my backpack and was suddenly hiking 16-minute miles, thanks to the strong wind at my back. I saw a Rite-Aid across the road, so I ducked in there to use the restroom, buy some supplies and wait out the rain. Thankfully, it was short-lived.
After that break, the trail heads south and then west along the Maumee River, piggybacking on the famous Buckeye Trail. I’d heard about this trail years ago, as the famous AT hiker, Grandma Gatewood, was instrumental in its existence. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Striking Out on the Buckeye Trail
I’m not sure if the entire Buckeye Trail is like the portion I hiked today. But it was lovely! Besides offering great views of the river, there are plenty of trash cans, hiker cabins, restrooms, etc. I quickly learned this area was also home to the historic Miami and Erie Canal, as the route traces the old towpath and you can see evidence of the canal on your right. I saw two old locks, one of which is now a tourist attraction during pleasant weather.
There are some fancy homes in various areas to the north of the canal (to the right of where you’re hiking). Many have boardwalks, bridges, etc. to get from the homes, over the old canal and to the towpath. One had a warning sign against trespassing with a sword-wielding skeleton. Ha!
In the end, today was a great day. I was sad to go home, but my father is in ill health and I need to check in on him. I’ll be back in two weeks, assuming Dad is doing well.
NCT Miles Today: 21.5 (34.6 km)
Ohio NCT miles to date: 46.5 (74.8 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 1,985.3 (3,195 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 2,614.7 (4,208 km)
Tonight I’m staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Wauseon. It’s great – clean and comfy – even if they did misspell my name on their welcome board. Grr!