There’s lots of stuff online about urban archeology. I’m as big a proponent of that as anyone else. This isn’t about that — it’s more sub-urban. More park-like.
Solon has Timberlake Park. When you first arrive it’s like any old park. Then you start to really look.
There’s plenty of hints that are strewn about. Like the big painted concrete pipes that are supposed to be play things. The big slightly rusty swing from your childhood has found employment in its old age nearby. A modern jungle gym rounds out the stuff you can climb in, on or about.
There’s a couple of pavilions there as well. This place can host some big picnics. And I’m sure it has in the past.
If you look close you can see a sign on one of the picnic pavilions:
This Shelter House
the people of SOLON
though the 1970 Sesquicentennial Celebration
1975 ties things together.
Look at the concrete tubes on the ground. The old swingset. All vintage ’75.
But anyway, that’s just the upfront stuff. Nothing really more than looking at an older building and knowing when it’s built.
We ate some breakfast overlooking the lake and cleaned up some of the mess that was left by the fishermen that hung out there last. Why people must leave a mess is beyond my comprehension — it doesn’t take much to pick things up and leave them cleaner than when you found them.
We started off with a hike around the lake. They’re rebuilding the wetlands that were there before all the new (last 30 years) development drained much of them around Solon. I guess this is a way of trying to get a bit of that back.
We went by a sign that said something to the effect of “Wetlands Construction Enter At Your Own Risk.”
Obviously we didn’t risk too much since I’m still writing this here post right now. (No, this isn’t scheduled)
As we hiked beyond the sign I guess we were throwing caution to the wind.
Then we happened on a remnant of an era past: a sign for a fitness trail. Fit-Trail (they’re still around!).
With a copyright date from 1975.
Not having anything better to do we chose to be fit and walk down the trail towards a more fit us. Who can say something bad about wanting to better ones self?
It started out with the warm-ups I remember from gym class at St. Gregs in the late 70’s. Stretching and random calisthenics like jumping jacks. BTW: I am twice an athlete since I can do 30 jumping jacks. An athlete should only have to do 15. :-)
But as we continued the trail became harder and harder to follow. It went from a trail to looking for the orange flag tied to a tree. Somehow along the way we skipped from station 6 to something like 19. I guess we missed a turn somewhere. Where we rejoined the trail was fortunate (?) since it was about to descend down towards the stream that runs through the park.
As we cam around the last bend we saw a sign pointing up “Fitness Trail <—” in the direction we came. I started to wonder who was the last person to see that particular sign… and when was it? This is looking into a bit of Solon history that I never really thought to have existed before.
All we could do (besides going back which seemed boring) was to look for a flag to follow. We found one. On the other side of a stream.
We went down and met up with the first real obstacle: a missing bridge.
The bridge’s foundation was still there with some big beams stuck in the muck around the river, but nothing beyond a single board could be found of the bridge. Thankfully it was a shallow brook and we simply waded across to ford the mighty river. We were still seeing the orange flags so we continued back south for a while walking next to the stream. It’s fun just to stop and listen to all the sounds bubble up in the silence when you just give them the chance by observing them.
The next challenge was crossing a tributary to the stream. There wasn’t any simple way other than the log that was wedged across the crevasse. Ok, so it was a ten-foot drop. This was arguably the dumbest thing we did: cross the log. But desperate times call for desperate measures. (I lied, we weren’t desperate, but I wanted to wedge that phrase in to make it sound more heroic)
Then we reached an impasse. The flags stopped. There were four-wheeler tracks that went up the hill and the river continued on in front of us. We started to consult our phones at this point to see just where the hell we were. I knew where we started from and I could tell where we are. I knew vaguely how to get where we wanted to go. But of course there was no marked trail.
I’ve never been as thankful to have a compass (in my iPhone) in a real-life scenario. :-) Even without any mapping, the compass would have saved our bacon.
We chose to go up the hill towards a development that was another 1/2 mile or so east of where we were. Going up the hill was easy. The thicket was harder. But when the had no more tire tracks to follow and everything was nothing but overgrowth we threw in the towel on this option. We could have slogged our way into the development, but it would’ve been hard and annoying. It would have been easier with my machette, but I didn’t think to bring it with me on a Saturday morning stroll. We back-tracked our way down the hill to the river — thankfully we were able to remember how we got there. (“The squishy log,” “The prickly bush,” “The beetle mounds”)
Now to go south. along the river.
No more pretense of a trail to guide us.
A coyote ran by. Obviously waiting for us to falter. Waiting for a meal. (Needless drama. They were scared of us.)
We headed up another hill when we didn’t have any ground left to walk on.
Up top we heard some voices. People. We’re not far from civilization. (duh.)
Grantwood golf course.
While we could have walked the course to safety it didn’t strike me as something I would want to explain over and over and over and over again to everyone we met.
“We were just following in fitness trail from the 70’s and found our way here.”
I don’t even like golf.
And found where golf balls go after what looks like a short par-3 hole. We found a dozen without even trying. Side note: Why someone would buy something with “long and soft” on it I will never know. Really? (My mind is always in the gutter. Deal.)
We soldiered onward.
Through the poison ivy patch.
And over the mostly broken bridge. One side wasn’t attached to the bank. But it was good enough to cross the river for the last time.
Then we found a path! A real life path!
We even found a sign pointing the other direction.
“No tresspassing. Police order.”
Ummm… sorry officer. We were just trying to get fit. 70’s style.
The path was real though. And led up right back to the original fitness trail. It re-joined just past the first station: arm circles. Once we figured out where we were it was all downhill.
We hit the swings before heading home. Fun — old-school style!
But now I want to explore it more. With a real tracking GPS on me. I wouldn’t mind volunteering to do a bit of trail clearing too. Even guerilla trail cleaning maybe.
If nothing else it would be a great place for a geo-cache!
View Saturday Hike in Solon in a larger map
[smugmug url=”http://photos.vec.com/hack/feed.mg?Type=gallery&Data=13822313_nbPxL&format=rss200″ imagecount=”100″ start=”1″ num=”100″ thumbsize=”Th” link=”lightbox” captions=”false” sort=”true” window=”true” smugmug=”true” size=”L”]