Meanderings: Pickerington Ponds

KEN DANTER

March 14, 2020

Meandering – The act of wandering in a meaningless, leisurely and aimless manner. Meaningless?….. Leisurely?….. Aimless?……How better to describe a day in the park?

Suites my style, precisely, for hiking all of the Franklin County Metro Parks trails in 2020. Right now I’m way behind schedule, on the other hand, being behind schedule fits with the meaning of “meandering.” “Schedule” and “meandering” just shouldn’t be used in the same sentence, paragraph or even page.

So far I’ve covered only 11.3 miles of the 236 total in the parks. Pitiful. But for the 11.3 trail miles, I’ve walked a total of 14.5 miles. That’s a combination of meandering and the way the park maps record distance.

Two children walk on the Killdeer Trail at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park. Photo/Caleb Holman

For example, the Killdeer Trail at Pickerington Ponds is 1.1 miles but it is an “out and back” trail….2.2 miles. The Multi-Purpose Trail at Blacklick is a “lollipop” trail, listed at 2.6 miles. But the “stick” of the “lollipop” is 1.4 miles which must be covered twice for a total of 4.0 miles.

Some trails are “figure 8” trails in which the center section must be hiked twice. Other trails are “walking starts” on which you must hike a different trail to reach the desired trail. Add in my own meandering factor and I’m guessing I’ll probably hike 300 miles to achieve the 236 mile goal.

I do have the benefit of a great app for my iPhone. The Gia App records the distance, pace, altitude change and a lot of other things I’ve yet to figure out. It also traces the hike on a map that can be saved to a hiking log.

White swamp oak on a misty morning at Arrowhead Marsh in Pickerington Ponds Metro Park. Photo/Ramesh Rangaswamy

Today’s hike was the 1.7-mile Arrowhead Trail at Pickerington Ponds. It is a combination “figure 8” and “lollipop” trail that, with my meandering style, totaled 2.2 miles.

The highlight of the hike was the chorus frogs. Every wet spot broadcast a near deafening din of these spring singers. In two spots the trail has become a bog extending into the adjoining woods. Here the frogs were at their peak. I searched, in vain, for a look at one of these songsters while bushwhacking around the boggy spots. Best I could do was to see a muddy cloud where they would dive into the mucky bottom.

A chorus frog calling for a mate. Photo/Dale Miller

The area of the trail between the two swamped out sections provided a tranquil section that, in all likelihood had not seen much traffic in the past couple of weeks. Lingering here, it occurred to me that I have heard numerous song sparrows establishing their territories. With the large expanse of fields in this section of the park, it would be interesting to plot their territories and establish their social distance.

There is considerable coyote scat along the trail. (My inner eight year old still calls it “poop” while my inner 15 year old has a different term entirely. Thankfully my 15th year passed and I settled out at about sixteen and a half, where I’ve remained for the past 64 years, at least according to my wife.

A coyote stands on an icy Ellis Pond at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park. Photo/John Bonnett

The fields here are dotted with numerous cedar trees. This would be a good area for saw whet owls who are partial to cedar trees, yews, junipers and arborvitae. A mist net in January might be productive. For several years a saw what owl roosted in a juniper shrub at Greenlawn Cemetery.

BY THE NUMBERS TO DATE
Miles- 11.3 of 236
Birds- 64 of 200

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