I knew when I took the Head of School job that I would desperately miss spending time hiking with kids like I so regularly did at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary. Solution: Offer hikes with the Head of School on weekends. The first one of this school year was held at Gorman Nature Center on a beautiful, crisp, fall morning. It didn’t even matter that only a handful of people turned-out to participate. We had a very special time.
Before setting out, the kids made predictions about what wildlife we might see on a Fall hike in this part of Ohio. Some predictions included: songbirds, deer, squirrel, chipmunk, frogs, and turtles. First stop was the pond. Since the temp was in the low 50’s, we did not see any frogs or turtle there as we normally would on warmer days. Next we set-out on a 1.5 mile hike that included a stop at the fire tower. Looking out over the landscape, the fall color change was evident.
We continued our hike out through the property of Gorman Nature Center spotting numerous variety of fungi to the natural spring where the trail turns sharply. The kids learned the term “blaze” for the markings on the trees that keep you on the right path. Blazes can be particularly helpful in times when the trail is completely covered; like with leaves or snow. We followed the stream as it weaved back towards the prairie. We saw several deer trails and chipmunks along the way.
Next, we found a nice bridge with benches to rest our legs and listen to a story. I brought along the story of Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, who was the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. She was a native of Ohio, mother of 11 children, and completed the trail at the age of 67 years.
Next, we made our way to the very quaint and popular covered bridge at Gorman Nature Center. Its such a cool place to hang-out and listen to birds. Its also very near to a vernal pool, that did contain some frogs who were out sunning themselves.
Our last stop was the Visitor’s Center, where there are a wide variety of live reptile and amphibian species to see as well as many stuffed versions of Ohio’s birds and mammals on display. We finished our time together with hot chocolate in the pavilion.
I plan to offer more Head of School hikes, for sure. The next one, date TBD, will be a winter hike in the Mohican Forest. Stay tuned! Adventure awaits!!