Hello! My name is Ryan and I am a Clean Water Fellow working with the Ohio Sierra Club Clean Water Campaign this semester. Over the next month, I’ll go through the process of becoming a trained Outings leader and will plan to lead hikes along our waterways in NE Ohio. To gain more experience enjoying and exploring, I visited one of our great local parks and went snowshoeing at the Tom S. Cooperrider Kent Bog State Nature Preserve.

Kent Bog

Kent Bog is only ten minutes away from the university and includes a great half-mile recycled boardwalk. It’s home to a large population of gray birch, the largest population of tamarack trees in Ohio, and the largest, southernmost population of tamarack in the continental United States.

This gem of a wetland is a time capsule from the Ice Age: when the glaciers melted, the retreating ice formed a 50-acre wide kettle-hole lake that is now known as Kent Bog. Over thousands of years, the melted ice was covered by a layer of sphagnum moss and filled with peat-preserving, boreal vegetation. Now, it is home to native species of turtles, birds, snakes, amphibians, and awesome wetland plants for the Kent community and general public to visit.

Kent Bog is one of my favorite short hikes and I was excited to see it covered in a foot of snow. Doesn’t sound exciting to you? Tired of the weather keeping you trapped indoors? Let me introduce you to the importance and usefulness of snowshoes. Snowshoes are a type of footwear that helps distribute your weight and allow you to seemingly float on the snow for your hike. Native Americans used them to hunt and travel in winters such as this one and, on my hike, I was able to tour the boardwalk comfortably and with dry feet.

snowshoes

The Algonquin word for tamarack is
“wood used for snowshoes!”

 

Many of us are tired of this cold weather but that doesn’t mean you have to hibernate. Follow these tips and essentials when you go hiking and don’t let the snow keep you from enjoying Ohio’s outdoors.

In your hiking pack:

Big tree

  • First Aid kit
  • One liter water bottle
  • Pair of Socks
  • Fleece Pullover
  • Emergency space blanket
    like one of these
  • High calorie snacks
  • Cell Phone

On your person, it’s all about the clothes on your back:

  • Layers
    1. A base layer (Under Armour shirt)
    2. Insulating layer (Fleece pullover)
    3. Waterproof jacket
  • Wear wool or synthetics.
  • Avoid Cotton! It absorbs water and doesn’t dry off, making you feel colder.

My experience snowshoeing through Kent bog was refreshing and surprisingly quiet with just the sound of the wind and a few resident birds singing. I saw rabbit tracks throughout the shrubs (especially near the blueberry bushes) and I took a long walk enjoying the nice cold air. As with every hike, it isn’t just a walk through the woods, it’s a chance to experience something greater than yourself. It is a reminder to be grateful and appreciate the world we live in, even if that world includes Polar Vortex Snow-mergencies.

I hope you get a chance to experience your favorite parks and trails covered in snow this winter. Get Outdoors and Break Your Cabin Fever. It’s worth it.

-Ryan Ainger

Trail