Zaleski State Forrest Backpacking Trip July 25th-26th

I went on my first backpacking trip ever to Zaleski State Forrest in South Eastern Ohio. It is located directly next to Lake Hope State Park. I got a backpack for my birthday back in February but plans with friends kept falling through and I was dying to go. I found a women’s outdoor group online called “Mountain Chicks” and they had an upcoming backpacking trip that I could make so I decided to go! I didn’t have to pay a dime other than show up and bring my own gear.

I drove 1.5 hours from Columbus and on my way I ended up hitting a squirrel. I was pretty upset but I quickly redeemed myself by stopping my car and helping a small turtle cross the road a few miles later.

Notice he was stuck in the middle right on the yellow line.

Moved to a safer place!

A total of seven people showed up for the trip including myself. Ages ranged from a retired older lady (maybe 60? But she was in GREAT shape) to myself who was definitely the youngest at 20. People drove from Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana. This Mountain Chicks chapter was the Midwest chapter and it was cool that there were people from three different states! I was definitely the least experienced but it was also one other girls first time backpacking too.

We started hiking around 10am and took about 4 hours to go seven miles and arrived at our camp around 2:30. My shoulders and neck were killing me but I didn’t want to complain so I didn’t say anything. When we got to camp I asked everyone else if my pain was normal and one of the girls helped me adjust my pack. I had so much of the weight sitting on my shoulder straps when I could’ve adjusted it to balance more on my hips. The backpack felt so much more comfortable after I had it adjusted right. We got to camp so early and we had time to kill. I’m glad we only hiked seven miles because my legs and shoulders were badly hurting. Backpacking is way harder than I thought it would be.

This is a picture of the wetlands that we hiked by on the first day.

On the first day the wetlands were the most scenic view the trail had to offer. I didn’t have high expectations since we were in Ohio but one thing I didn’t expect was how often I found my self staring at the person’s shoes in front of me. I was doing this so that I could watch where I was stepping. Even if I was in front I think I still would spend a lot of time looking at the ground.

For dinner I made some ramen noodles in my camp stove. It was cool to see what everyone else chose to make and cook their food in. Quite a few people had mountain house premise meals where they just poured boiling water into their bag and ate. I don’t think I could justify spending the money on them myself and I doubt that they tasted much better than my ramen. I might try them one day but I think it will be fun to make and pack all my own food too.

At night I stayed alone in my two person tent. It was the first time I’ve ever stayed alone in a tent before but there were still six others in tents somewhat close to me. I didn’t bring a pillow on purpose because I planned on using my clothes stuffed in a sack but it didn’t work very well at all. I got a really bad headache from laying down with my head practically flat on the ground. I saw another girl had a blow up pillow, next time I go camping or backpacking I definitely plan on getting one of these because I had a miserable time sleeping. I remember being up until 3am trying to get my headache to go away. I heard some coyotes howling over the hill which really had me scared. I kept moving around in my sleeping bag to make some noise to distract me. I probably slept about three hours because I woke up at six am. The outhouse was a three minute walk down the trail, so being the chicken I was I held my bladder all night and went as soon as it was light out.

in the morning I made some oatmeal and we hiked 6.5 miles back. This time my backpack felt so much better but I had it super tight around my hips. There were lots of ups and downhills but hiking with six others made me keep going. I enjoy hiking up hill much more than down but if I were on my own or with one other person I could see us stopping to take more breaks. The scenery for the second day I enjoyed much better.

Here is a view of an area that had been through a selective tree harvest.

We got back to our cars around 11:30 and I was home by 1:30 which I was very happy with. My hips aches so bad and it felt like I had giant bruises on them. I was walking very slow almost limping. I’m glad we only hiked as far as we did. I don’t know how people are able to hike much further but I hope I can one day.

We did the small southern loop of the park on our trip but I want to return to do the much larger northern loop starting at the iron furnace trail head.

Here is a picture of some ledges we saw on our second day apparently this part was an old stone quarry.

A bad picture of some interesting flora.

We started at point A and camped at point I.

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