Tag Archives: outdoor activities

Parks in Winter

Wesley Book

Wesley Book,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 2 February 2019

One of the things I love about winter in Athens is the scenery surrounding campus. When the snow is falling, or has fallen, all the rolling hills that create this beautiful area look even more beautiful.

I love the outdoors, especially hiking, and there are a few parks around Athens that present a handful of trails that contain some picture-perfect views. Hocking Hills State Park isn’t too far away from campus, and holds some of the most beautiful hilltops when the snow first falls.

Zaleski State Forest is closer than Hocking Hills, and is just as beautiful. Since all the leaves have fallen, the best thing about Zaleski during winter is that you can see from ridge to ridge, giving you the opportunity to capture the rolling hills point of view.

Another state park near Athens is Burr Oak State Park. This park is just as beautiful as the others, except it comes with a lake. Since temperatures have been extremely cold and have stayed cold, the lake freezes over and the snow lays on top of the lake, creating a beautiful picture. We were even able to do some ice fishing along the way.

The Best $140 You Could Spend At Wal-Mart

Sean Neff

Sean Neff,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 25 April 2018

Over the last four years of my eventful time here in Athens, I’ve made quite a laundry list of incredible memories and incredible friends. One of my fondest memories is from last summer in the heat of late June. Out on Lake Snowden (about 15 minutes south of Athens) my friend and I decided to christen our new shiny Wal-Mart purchases.

Two days earlier, we stumbled upon a summer sale in the outdoor section of the State St. Wally World. A bright blue Sundolphin Kayak for $120… a steal for even the cheapest type of new kayak out on the market. We debated buying the small 8 foot watercraft for a few minutes as well perused through the cereal aisle…and as we finally hit the Captain Crunch, we decided to pull the trigger and buy the kayak. Our biggest problem was this: even though I only weigh 148 pounds, two grown men could not fit in the kayak comfortably. So to make up for this issue, we also bought a $20 child-sized dinghy raft.

So back to Lake Snowden… with a bright blue kayak and a child sized raft in tow, two college students with two fishing poles and some tackle headed out to purge the lake of its famously large, but tough to catch, channel cat fish.

We spent almost 12 hours from sun up to sun down paddling into every cove and fishing hot spot catching a massive haul of keeper-sized cats. As the fishermen with their $150,000 specially-designed high-tech fishing boats passed by and saw two sun-burnt college punks with 10+ large catfish in their Wal-Mart kayak, their mouths dropped and their wallets cried. We delightfully filleted and grilled up our catch for the day, and shared our bounty with our troop of friends back in town.

Catfish

Now, as the spring of 2018 continues to roll by into the early stages of summer, I have a kayak of my own. Unfortunately I didn’t get this one on sale, but it was still only $140. Now instead of a blue kayak and a kiddy dinghy out on Lake Snowden… there is a blue kayak and a twin orange kayak still raking in huge hauls. Except now we tend to throw back more than we keep. Yet still, I think it’s the best $140 I’ve ever given to the Walton family.

Camping with Friends

Quinn Mitchell

Quinn Mitchell,
Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 19 March 2018

During this year’s spring break, I went backpacking with some friends. Our original plan was to go to Dolly Sods, West Virginia. However, after looking at the weather forecast, we reluctantly admitted that it would be a tad too cold and snowy to camp for four days. With our plans ruined, we needed to find somewhere a little warmer, but hopefully just as beautiful. With our options
limited, we chose Zaleski State Forest.

Once all our classes ended on the Friday before spring break, we met up and went on a quick trip to the grocery store. Getting food and packing up took much longer than expected, so we didn’t get to the trailhead until dark. This meant we had to hightail it for a few miles until we found a nice campsite.

Once we finally found a site and set up our tents, it was time to eat. This was an important night in my life in terms of camping. It was the night I learned that tortellini is an amazing food to eat while camping. (If you learn nothing else from this post, please remember this).

The rest of the trip was just as enjoyable, even if it was a little cold. Every time I get to go camping is great, but this was especially enjoyable because I brought some of my oldest friends on their first backpacking trip.

The Great Outdoors

Andrew Noll

Andrew Noll,
Junior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 8 December 2017

My entire life, I have been quite the outdoorsman. I attribute some of that to my parents who took us camping twice a year with several close families.

In addition to that, I used to go “creeking” and catch all sorts of animals. I would keep these animals and study them for a few days, feeding and caring to them as needed, then I would release them back into the wild.

I was very close to entering a major in bio or even environmental engineering. I do not regret my decision to chose engineering technology. However, in the future I could see myself getting into an industry that can work with or protect the environment.

As I’ve grown older I’ve moved onto different kinds of outdoor hobbies. I started fishing religiously, hunting, cliff diving, backpacking with my pup or even doing “man vs. wild” with my friend.

The two things that made me appreciate nature the most were hunting, and the man vs. wild camps where we went out for 3 days with just a pot, a bb gun, and two knives.

Now a lot of people ask how I could hunt animals yet love nature? Everyone has an opinion and I respect that. I am not here to argue why I believe hunting is okay, but I truly believe it has made me more in tune with nature and helped me understand its complicated beauty.

I might sit outside and freeze all day without seeing one deer, but I get an opportunity to study nature that non-hunters cannot experience. I learn about varieties of plants and animals. I understand weather patterns and how animals react to it. I see the delicate balance of the ecosystem, and the interaction between animals at its simplest level, in which no book can teach.

For example, something I see too often: chipmunks will chirp loudly and scatter into holes, then 10 seconds later a hawk will fly by. It is that sort of communication and realization of nature’s community that has made me enjoy hunting so much.

Whether I am hunting, cliff diving, hiking, camping, etc. nature has never failed to amaze me. At every turn, I will educate people on its importance advocate for its sustainability for future generations.

Here’s a short video I made about my love for nature and the outdoors.

Hiking, Biking, and Bouldering: Athens in Autumn

Daniel Riordan

Daniel Riordan,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 6 November 2017

During the fall semester in Athens, Ohio, a funny thing happens where nearly every day is warm enough for shorts or cool enough for a wind breaker. The winter weather rarely ever hits before the end of Finals Week, so every weekend or free afternoon offers an opportunity to get outside and have some
fun.

The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway (in other words, the Athens bike trail) offers bikers, joggers, and walkers a scenic route on winding pavement under the canopy created by the autumn-colored trees lining the path. I’m a huge fan of the spot, and whether I’m feeling a short six-mile round-trip bike ride or if I’m feeling adventurous enough to go further, I do my best to head over there a few times a week.

Even if you don’t have access to a vehicle that can take you far from Athens, plenty of hiking opportunities very close to Athens are best experienced this time of year.

I’ve enjoyed my first trip down a mountain bike trail near The Ridges, but the best memories of the area are from going on runs up to the top of Radar Hill and back with my roommates. The trails at the Ridges, especially the one leading to the top of Radar Hill, are my favorite places to escape and get a breath of fresh air this time of year. The rolling green hills are pretty to look at, and I can’t think of a more beautiful and more convenient way to get a calf workout than exploring them.

Fall in Athens

Sean Neff

Sean Neff,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 29 September 2017

Some say the fall leaves in Boston are the sight to see. Yet even though I’m biased, I tend to disagree (rhyme intended).

As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, the weekend exploration in Athens gets even more exciting. One of my favorite parts of going to school here
at Ohio University is the amazing history and scenery of southeast Ohio. The beautiful array of color that covers the hills is something that always stops me on my walks to Stocker Center or the ARC. By the time the weekend rolls around, my itch to explore southeast takes me away from the books and onto the backroads.

One of my favorite places to visit and hike is in Zaleski State Forest just west of Athens in Vinton, County. Zaleski State Forest is home to some of the best hiking trails in Ohio and has a lot of interesting historical places. One of the most frequented places is the Moonville Tunnel, which is an old railroad tunnel that is reportedly home to numerous ghosts. Although I never have seen any ghosts on my trips there, the civil engineer inside of me enjoys examining the
structure of the old tunnel and all of the engineering work that took place for its construction.

Fall semester at OU is also the semester of senior design projects for most civil engineering seniors. For my senior design project, my team and I are designing a complete residential subdivision with roadways, sewers, and lots for homes. The design also includes surveying the topography of a land parcel in Alexandria Township.

Even though senior design takes a lot of my time, the activities and adventure in Athens makes the journey worth it. Just a few hours spent in the wilderness of southeast Ohio takes me away to a time where cars weren’t self-driving and cell phones weren’t the center of our lives. Yet, coming back to school just motivates me even more to create and think outside the box in life!

Summer Road Trip

Quinn Mitchell

Quinn Mitchell,
Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 3 September 2017

This past summer I spent a little more than a month on a road trip with one of my best friends, Keegan. The point of the trip was to explore as much of this country and its national parks as we could. We visited North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.

While in these states, we got to see some of the most incredibly beautiful natural landscapes that the United States has to offer. In between campsites, we spent a little bit of time in cities. We were mostly visiting old friends who had moved across the country. These friends include Ohio University alumni, old roommates, and Keegan’s parents’ friends from college. It was an awesome opportunity to see people we hadn’t seen in far too long. It was also nice to sleep in a bed every once in a while.

The following are some pictures from the month on the road:

Summer Road Trip

Keegan and I are standing in the hollowed base of a redwood tree, which towered far above us.

Summer Road Trip

This picture was taken as we canoed toward Mount Moran in the Grand Teton National Park.

Summer Road Trip

This is a long exposure of the night sky over Yosemite Valley. You can see El Capitan and Half Dome.

Summer Road Trip

It was extremely humbling to be so close to wildlife, especially a massive bison. It’s a very effective reminder that humans are by no means the biggest animal in the woods.

Travelling to so many awesome places gave me a whole new appreciation for our massive country. It was absolutely one of the most rewarding experiences of my summer. I cannot wait to take another trip like this one.