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Outdoors

Snowshoeing with Mom on a winter day

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    Outdoor writer Brad Zahar, left, and his mother Laurie hiked at Hinckley Reservation this week.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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    Ledge Lake Trail at Hinckley Reservation.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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After months of longing for good snow, Mother Nature gave us more than enough to get the snowsports started last weekend.

The storm brought cold air with it, but if you chose to enjoy the foot of fluffy snow, it was a beautiful couple of days to enjoy it.

Last year, I bought a pair of snowshoes on Craigslist for $40. My mom did too, hoping we could enjoy winter snowshoeing. That kind of thinking felt like a guarantee that we wouldn’t have snow this season. Up until last weekend, my theory held true, then I was gladly proved wrong.

With the good pounding of snow, the next trick was finding a place to snowshoe.

Last winter, I got out once and snowshoed the Buckeye Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. But with the government shutdown, the parking lots were not plowed last weekend.

With my mom wanting to try out her snowshoes, too, we looked at the Cleveland Metroparks maps and found some great wooded trails in the Hinckley Reservation.

Living towards that side of town, it was easily accessible for both of us, and if it got too cold, we’d be able to get home quicker without having to freeze throughout a long car ride home.

The trail at Ledge Lake on Route 3 in Hinckley was almost all wooded with the exception of a few open fields. There wasn’t a single set of manmade tracks on the trail, whether it be from skiers, snowshoers or anyone else. Just a few deer tracks off the trail were the only disturbances. We had inches upon inches of soft, white, powdery snow all to ourselves.

Two-and-a-half miles long, the trail didn’t appear to be that long on paper. With heavy snow it certainly was feeling much longer and the workout more intense than just going for a casual Monday afternoon hike. There were plenty of climbs and downhill sections of the trail. The changes in elevation were fun and came as a bit of a surprise. From looking at the map, the trail appeared flat.

About halfway through our hike, the Buckeye Trail cut in and we noticed a few cross-country ski tracks heading north on another trail. Someone else was out but on a different trail, leaving our trail untouched.

Looping back on the Ledge Lake Loop Trail, we had another mile to go of fluffy snow, roughed up only by the tracks we had made. I guess, if there was such thing as backcountry snowshoeing in Ohio, this was as close as it gets.

We didn’t see a ton of wildlife on the hike, but near the end the sun came out from behind the clouds and trees. On a day with single-digit wind chills, the tranquility of the soft snow and solace on a cold winter day was irreplaceable enjoyment.

It gave us the itch to do more snowshoeing and try some more trails around the area. But, thanks to the warmup and rain this week, we will have to wait ... again ... on Mother Nature.

Contact Brad Zahar at bzaharoutdoors@gmail.com.
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