This past weekend we packed up and bundled up, prepared for a chilly two days of backpacking in the woods in southern Ohio. We hiked and camped along Lake Vesuvius in the Wayne National Forest. The trail we hiked mainly was the Vesuvius Backpack Trail but we hiked on the Lakeshore Trail for a short stint at the beginning. It's a beautiful and good beginner spot to backpack with lots of woods, views of the lake and mostly flat trails with some steep hills.
On day one Friday night we loaded our nearly 30lb packs into our cars in Wadsworth and headed down to southern Ohio. We drove about 4 hours to Pedro Ohio and arrived at our campsite at 9:45pm. This first night was the easy night where we just park our cars and walk a few yards to our campsite. We didn't even bother to start a fire since it was so late, and cold we just put our tents and hammocks up and got cozy in our sleeping bags.
One of the group got to the first campsite early and snapped this pic of the golden light coming through the trees before we arrived.
The low that night was 28 and we all managed to stay warm enough, though I woke up a couple times, chillier than I would have liked, for the most part I slept really well! And that's saying something, typically I have a super rough night of sleeping on the first night camping because it's really uncomfortable, but then the second day I'm so exhausted from hiking that I pass out. I was pleasantly surprised that sleeping in the freezing cold with a warm enough sleeping bag and tent was the best sleep I've had on a camping trip so far.
On day two, Saturday morning we grabbed a quick breakfast at our campsite and headed out.
Here I am rolling up our tent, excited for the day to come!
We drove just a couple minutes to the boat dock parking lot which is where the trail head is located. We had the luxury of one more "real" bathroom before going into the woods and then headed out. (Yeah, that's the only real downside of being that far out in nature, no bathrooms.)
We kept saying throughout the weekend that despite the cold of the nights, we could not have asked for better weather for this trip! The sky was a beautiful blue and completely clear of clouds most of the day. The lake was beautifully reflecting that blue sky and in the morning the fog made it even prettier.
The temps were in the fifties most of the day Saturday and that was great for hiking. The key to hiking when it's chilly is to wear layers. Saturday I started the day with all these layers: a light athletic water tee, a lightweight wool blend tee, a fleece jacket and my down jacket. I took off the down jacket before we even got on the trail and was down to my wool blend tee after 45 minutes of hiking.
Me with all my layers at the beginning of the hike
A note about the trail. I really loved that this trail was for the most part flat and easy to hike. Don't get me wrong there were some elevation changes, some steep up hills and down hills but overall it was a good beginner level trail in my opinion. I haven't done a lot of trails yet, this was my fifth backpacking adventure but I've done some rough ones and this one stuck out to me as a nice, smooth end to the season. We started the hike on the Lakeshore trail, then when the trail split we continued on to the backpack trail. The whole backpack trail is 17.28 miles but we cut off nearly 2 miles at the end on Sunday so we ended up doing a total of about 13 miles over Saturday and Sunday.
Back to Saturday's hike. When we'd done a little over half of the days hiking we stopped for a backpacker's lunch which consisted of smoked meat sticks, cheese, and protein bars. Gotta keep that protein up when you're hiking.
Here's Joshua and me eating lunch
We continued on after that and stopped half a mile short of our camp location to filter water in a stream.
I loved where we camped on Saturday. We walked off the trail a couple hundred feet to get to where we wanted to set up our little tent city.
In the front here is our tent and behind that is our friend's hammock setup
Setting up the smallest tent of the whole group. His tent required his hiking poles to be set up, this saves on weight.
There were 9 of us there, the majority of us had tents but two had hammock set ups. Some people prefer the comfort of a hammock over the ease of setup of a tent. I fall on the tent side myself because it's easier to set up, get in and out of and change clothes in. My husband and I share a tent so we can share that weight which is nice. I also enjoy hammocking and I'm sure we'll try a hammock set up again sometime in the summer next year. Our sleep setup in our tent is a sleeping mat and sleeping bag for each of us. We use Klymit Static V sleeping pads which are nice because they insulate from the cold and provide some comfort but it's nothing like a mattress! Going into the woods has it's costs but the benefits far outweigh the discomforts.
Saturday night after a dinner of backpacking meals (freeze dried and rehydrated with boiled water) we settled in by the campfire and talked until we were too tired to sit up anymore.
Sitting with the warm fire at my back, waiting for my little cook stove to boil some water for food.
The sky was still clear and we could see the stars through the branches which were now nearly bare of leaves. We headed to our tents after a late night snack of campfire quesadillas. That night, snuggled up in my sleeping bag I slept like a rock.
Making quesadillas over the fire. Someone brought summer sausage extra cheese and tortillas in their pack. It was worth the extra weight.
On day three, Sunday morning we packed up as quickly as our cold bodies could muster (it was a couple hours) heated our hands over the fire one last time before we doused it and headed onto the trail. We did four miles that day and it was a nice easy hike out.
The water was really clear
This is the last little stretch of trail before the parking lot
My big takeaway from this trip was allowing quiet in my life. I didn't take my phone on this trip. I brought an old phone that didn't have data capabilities so it was basically just a camera to snap some pics. It's not just taking a break from social media that was great, it was taking a break from all media including podcasts, music and videos to spend time listening to God, listening to nature, and having great talks with friends. Even after I got home I continued to allow myself to have quiet instead of having some media constantly playing in the background. I love the long hikes because I have a lot of time to think on my own and also to talk with friends when I feel like it. I love the time around the campfire to talk about whatever, sometimes it's ridiculous joking and bantering and sometimes it's awesome deep conversation about life, theology, politics, whatever.
If taking a trip into the back country is something you've been interested in, I challenge you to ask a friend to try it with you and go for it! Do some research and have the right gear, then try an easy trail to start and maybe do it in a warmer season than fall in Ohio. But just get out there and explore. Your body, your mind and your soul will thank you for it.
Lake Vesuvious in Ohio is a great hiking area, all around really pretty and an nice beginner hike. The lake is really pretty, there's a lot of tall birch trees mixed with a variety of other trees that I'm not sure about and some coniferous trees as well. There are also some pretty cool outcroppings and rocks along the edge of the water and some in the woods. It was really awesome to find a gem like this in the state that I'm proud to call home.
Let me know if you try this trail yet or if you've already been there! I'd love to know what you think of the trail! Here is the link to the Wayne National Forest website if you want to read details about the trail and the area https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/wayne/recarea/?recid=6235
Thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed my telling of a backpacking adventure at Lake Vesuvius!