Autumn Adventure is a walk in the parkWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
I was two miles from home when the gray clouds opened and the first drops of water splashed upon me.
My daily walk stretches just a bit more than five miles, and while the skies threatened rain that Saturday morning, I had ignored them and instead consulted my phone app, which promised a few more dry hours. So I set off on my moderate-pace walk, which averages about 15-16 minutes per mile. I have been walking every day since Sept. 1 following bariatric sleeve surgery, and it has dramatically changed my health and life.
Just getting outside and moving clears my thoughts and rejuvenates my day. Sometimes I listen to music or talk radio. Sometimes I meet with people. Sometimes I walk with my family. But mostly I just put one foot in front of the other until I meet whatever goal I have that day.
Well, lumber/jog/stagger in the closest approximation to running I am likely to achieve. It felt like being propelled through a light car wash or under a horizontal waterfall; I was literally shaking the water from my hair and eyes as I ran.
It was exhilarating, cleansing and energizing and at some point without realizing it, I began laughing and whooping as I ran, water splashing under my shoes and pounding on me from above. It lasted about 10 minutes; I walked the last mile home, hitching breaths and squishing in my shoes.
It felt like a turning point and while only time can confirm that, since the baptism by rain I am even more happy when I am outside, whether it is in my Tecumseh neighborhoods or in Downtown Toledo dodging cars and playing Frogger at intersections.
One of my most pleasant walking atmospheres is Wildwood Metropark. I love the trails and trees there. As summer melts into fall and cold winter weather looms on the horizon, I am excited about an annual program the Metroparks of Toledo Area offer — and I hope you will join me.
Autumn Adventure, Metroparks’ fall walking program, encompasses some of the best color Northwest Ohio trees have to offer. You can obtain a Walking Record in any of the Metroparks; walk the trails and keep track of your progress on your own or join a guided hike with a Metroparks naturalist.
According to its promotional materials, “Metroparks has identified some colorful trails. Walk eight of those trails and document them in your trail record to complete the program.
“The first 50 people to finish eight trails and turn in their Trail Record at the Wildwood Metz Visitors Center will receive their Autumn Adventure T-shirt free. Additional shirts will be available to eligible participants that complete the program for $14. T-shirt quantities and sizes are limited.”
Scheduled walks are free. Make reservations at MetroparksPrograms.com or by calling (419) 407-9701. The paths include:
Autumn Adventure Kick Off
Sunday, September 1, 2 to 3 p.m.
Side Cut Metropark, Lamb Center
Kick off this year’s Autumn Adventure with a short, family-friendly presentation about the Wiley star of our program, the coyote, followed by a walk into coyote habitat. [Reservations]
Oak Openings Sand Dunes Track Trek
Thursday, September 12, 10 to 11 a.m.
Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, Sand Dunes
At the region’s biggest sandbox, the Girdham Road Sand Dunes, scour the landscape in search of footprints left by animals. Some of the tracks that have been found there include: deer, squirrel, fox, coyote, mice and many more. [Reservations]
Canal Days Bridge Walk
Saturday, September 14, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Providence, Dam area parking lot
Hike from the Dam area with a naturalist over all the bridges into Grand Rapids. We’ll stop at a local shop for an ice cream treat (participants should bring money to purchase ice cream). [Reservations]
Full Moon Walk
Thursday, September 19, 8 to 9:30 p.m.
Wildwood Preserve, Metz Visitor Center
What better way to celebrate Autumn Adventure’s Coyote Moon theme than a walk to uncover the mysteries of nature at night on September’s harvest moon. [Reservations]
Audubon Island Canoe Paddle
Saturday, September 21, 2 to 4 p.m.
Start location in Perrysburg (details when you make reservations)
Fee: $10 (Metroparks Members $8)
Make the most of this rare opportunity to view an island nature preserve during this canoe paddle. The river provides some great wildlife viewing so bring binoculars. Participants must be 11 and older. All minors must be in the same canoe as their legal guardian. Program cancelled if water is high. Two people per canoe. [Reservations]
Dew At Dawn: In Wildwood’s Prairies
Friday, October 4, 7 to 8:30 a.m.
Wildwood Preserve, Metz Visitor Center
Experience the peak of fall color on this sunrise walk along the purple and orange trails. The hour is right to perhaps glimpse a coyote! [Reservations available soon]
4-Mile Bend View Hike
Saturday, October 19, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Farnsworth, Boat launch area
Enjoy a longer, moderately-paced TowPath Trail hike to the scenic bend in the river and back. Afterwards, stop by to see the new nature-themed play area at Farnsworth’s boat launch area. [Reservations available soon]
Coexisting With Coyotes
Sunday, October 20, 2 to 4 p.m.
Wildwood Preserve, Metroparks Hall
Learn more about coyotes and their habits, where to find them and how to observe them safely. [Reservations available soon]
Especially For Families: Coyote Tales On Twilight Trails
Thursday, November 7, 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Pearson, Packer-Hammersmith Center
Families take advantage of the shorter daylight hours to experience Pearson’s Black Swamp Trail during the hours just before dark. Expect some tall tales and some truths about coyotes. [Reservations available soon]
Saturday, November 16, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Secor, NCNP parking lot
Wildlife conservationist, Aldo Leopold, wrote of the beauty of the red lanterns of the meadows in late autumn. Learn what they are and search for them as we ponder other thought provoking wildlife quotes from this author while walking along the Green Trail. [Reservations available soon]
I invite you to come walk with me from 2-3 p.m. Sept. 1 for the Autumn Adventure Kick-Off at Side Cut Park, Lamb Center. There will be a short, family-friendly presentation followed by a walk into the park’s coyote habitat.
Rain or shine, it can be life-changing.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Email him at email@example.com.