“It’s probably not OK for us to smoke a cig right now, is it?”
As we waited anxiously for our guide to arrive to the remote parking lot the directions (on paper!) told us to meet her at, we all experienced a nervous excitement. This form of anxiety, like most, is usually quelled by a few tugs on a cigarette. But in this situation…? Ehhh. Not that we’re lobbying with big tobacco on Capitol Hill or anything, but there’s a time and place for a smoke. Standing in the middle of an oasis of rustling trees, bubbling creeks and chirping birds doesn’t qualify as such.
Two days before Earth Day, Miklos, myself, and a small group of very close friends took Groupon’s word for it and headed to Hocking Hills State Park for a guided tour to include hidden waterfalls and caves. Take into account that Hocking Hills is a mere half-hour drive from our beloved Athens, Ohio and you’ve got yourself a ready-made slam dunk or alley oop of a Saturday. Whichever you prefer.
I came equipped with photo and video generating devices, including a GoPro Hero 3 that I’m excited to learn how to use. Visual evidence of this is seen below these words. Photos were taken and expletives were mumbled as I struggled with the new gadget. Visually, Hocking Hills State Park is a grand, grand place. Ohio has lush forestry in its geographical heart, and it’s just as breathtaking as any of Mother Nature’s other works of art. This includes the sad little frog you’ll see below.
My most meaningful takeaway from the hike wasn’t the photos or the blinking little machine in my shirt pocket. It was the way my friends’ laughter sounded. With no walls or ceiling to limit its reach, it sounded more clear, even amidst the continuous hum of a waterfall and its sparkling stream below. It bounced off of the sheer cliffs and boulders and rolled over the hills. It echoed through rock formations and became louder when someone slipped or tripped. It was beautiful.
I often lagged behind, to “get the shot” as it be, or because I was making sure to take it all in. Each rock quaintly placed by glaciers bigger than buildings, wildflowers all different and all so startlingly perfect. I very much recommend Hocking Hills State Park as a destination, and the guided tours as a solid weekend investment.
It was by pure coincidence that the calendar day marked “Earth Day” was so close, but fitting all the same. As summer prepares to open its toy box for us in the coming weeks, I encourage you to play in it. Alone time is to be valued, but nothing beats seeing a best friend clumsily attempt to traverse slippery boulders while trying oh so hard to not bring attention to himself.