Hiking in Hocking Hills

A friend recommended Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio as a place to go hiking, and since I desperately needed to make some sort of wilderness connection, no matter how tame, I visited the park.

It was worth going out of my way to visit the place — fabulous rock formations and a lovely hike through trees to a lake where I saw red-wing black birds, cardinals, and a huge bird that might have been an owl.

Although the park was fairly crowded, I took the trail less-traveled. On my way back I noticed a young woman sitting cross-legged on a wall. She seemed sad, so I asked if she were okay. She gave me a faint smile and said yes, but still I hesitated. I asked if she would like to talk or if she needed a hug. She stood and said, “I can always use a hug.” I held her for perhaps a minute while she cried, told her I was sorry for her troubles and continued on my way.

Later, back on the highway, I became tearful. It wasn’t until the unexpected bout of melancholy passed that I wondered where those tears had come from. Had I absorbed her sorrow?

Remembering other tearful episodes on this trip, I realized the tears always came after visiting people caught in grief-stricken or stressful lives. Tears for me seem to be a response to stress, so although it is possible I absorb other people’s emotions, it’s also possible I am just reacting to the stress of the situation, or maybe it’s only that their sorrow calls forth echoes of my own.

I don’t suppose it matters one way or another — whatever the reason, I process the emotion, then wash it away.

And in this particular situation, what I am left with after the cleansing is the memory of a hike made more poignant by that brief encounter with another human being.

***

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

***

10 Responses to “Hiking in Hocking Hills”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I’m glad my suggestion went over so well.

  2. pamkirst2014 Says:

    Did you visit the Old Man’s Cave, or were there too many folks on that path?

    I think it’s wonderful that you followed your instinct and stopped to help the sad young woman; many of us would have dithered, then walked on by–telling ourselves we didn’t want to intrude!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I walked the trail above the cave. There were many people at the cave, but it was more of a matter of needing the walk, and I couldn’t do both.

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

  3. Kathy Says:

    We lived in Columbus for a year and desperate for some adventure of the West kind, I remember finding our way to Hocking Hills. I’m glad approaching the woman turned out so well. I didn’t have that experience in Ohio – when I tried to befriend people or offer a smile, they did not respond. I remember the sour puss in the wine section of the grocery store when I tried to chat with him. It was one long, miserable year, but that’s how we made our way to Florida from the West Coast.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The only other person I talked to besides that young woman and my friends was a woman from Michigan. I wonder why people there are hard to befriend? There seems to be a hugely wealthy population. I wonder if that has something to do with it.

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

      • Kathy Says:

        My SIL is from Ohio and she is a bit hard to know. But a good friend of mine I’d met in Florida was originally from Ohio and she gave me the inside scoop – they’re suspicious of outsiders. At best, people (like the grocery store checker) would ask, “Are you from Florida?” We giggled, thinking it was a compliment that we looked like we were from Florida. But, in fact, that’s who they’re most suspicious of – those people who go down to Florida and there are many. I knew many Ohioans in SoCal who were nothing like the ones who stay in Ohio so I’ve decided there are 3 kinds of Ohioans: (1) those who never leave (2) those who go to Florida to escape snow and (3) those who go to California to create a new life.🙂

  4. katsheridan Says:

    Hocking Hills is one of my favorite areas. Old Man’s Cave is always crowded, but there are six or seven other caves in the area that are less traveled. I got engaged at Rock House. As for the friendliness, I’m astonished that people failed to find it. We’re like people everywhere–some good, some bad, and you tend to get back what you put out. We do tend to be somewhat reserved–it’s a Midwestern thing to be self-effacing and not effusive, but we are also generous and kind and friendly. I’m not sure what hugely wealthy looks like; like everyplace else, there’s plenty of poverty, especially in the southern part of the state and in the Hocking Hills, but there are also folks comfortably off thanks to a number of businesses being headquartered in Columbus, The Ohio State University and associated businesses, and because it’s the state capital. And I don’t think “wealthy” folks are any harder to befriend than anyone else. I’ve known ridiculously wealthy folks and you’d absolutely never guess it if you met them. I think it’s a simple reserve that’s inherent in our nature. We live and let live, which includes not poking our noses into other’s business, so perhaps that comes off as unfriendly. We’re simply not being nosy and some folks may interpret some overtures as being nosy.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Mansion-like houses set in acres of lawn speak to me of wealth, but maybe that’s different in the midwest.

      My only problem with Columbus was that it was a city (because I had little opportunity to interact with strangers, I don’t know anything about the residents) but for a city it seemed a beautiful place.

  5. leesis Says:

    beautiful Pat

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you.

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)


I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: