Program Review: Outback Trek @ Hell Hollow

I know, right?  I never post this often.  Today I went on the last winter Outback Trek with Lake Metroparks.  I know what you’re thinking – Outback Trek…Walkabout Tour…LOST…John Locke…

Well, that’s what you’d be thinking if you were cool like me.  Unfortunately, this is not Australia.  This is CLEVELAND in FEBRUARY.  I had a snow day yesterday, if that helps you non-snowbelters visualize the amount of white stuff we currently have.  The Outback Trek is a free hike offered several times a season by the Metroparks and lasts from 3-5 hours.  Except for the 12-24 inches of snow we had to blaze through, it was a perfect day – 30 degrees with little to no wind and light snow flurries.  There were 15 people signed up for the program, but I guess the snow dissuaded most of them, because we only ended up with two (and the other lady gave up after about an hour).  Here’s part of the program description from the Lake Metroparks website

The Outback Treks are some of the most physically demanding hikes that Lake Metroparks offers. We will go into areas that are typically not open to the public to see some of the hidden treasures in the park so bring along a camera. On this hike there will be some stream crossings along with large hills to climb up and down. Because of this sturdy, waterproof boots are highly recommended.

Hell Hollow Wilderness Area (738 acres) has a 100+ foot ravine (so named because it is “one hell of a hollow”) and 262 timber steps heading down to the creek valley.  The driveway to the park wasn’t even plowed, which was a sign of things to come.

We trudged through the snow, headed down the (snow-covered) stairs, and made our way to the waterfall.  At that point, the other participant decided to bail, so we accompanied her back to the stairs, then tried – unsucessfully – to cross the partially-frozen Paine Creek.  My Mountain Masochists faired quite well all day, keeping me warm even after the ice on the creek broke and I was shin-deep in water.  Since we couldn’t cross the creek, we turned around and headed up…and up…and up…to the flat cliff top (where we had lunch on a fallen tree).  What goes up… of course, so we eventually made our way (straight) back down the ravine – treacherous yet fun – only to face the stairs again.

I was GPS-free for this hike, so I’m not sure about the mileage or elevation climb, but it took about three hours.  And it was not easy.  Along the way I learned to identify trees (beech, hemlock, yellow birch, black cherry) animal tracks (deer, mouse, mink, and coyote), and even bugs (winter flea, stone fly, and midge) from my guide Andy.  All in all I give this hike ten stars, and I’ve already signed up for both Outback Treks this spring – March 13 @ River Road Park and May 22 @ Chapin Forest.  Who’s coming with me?

262 steps covered in 262″ of snow? No problem! (The amount of snow may or may not be exaggerated)

Paine Creek @ the waterfall (aka "I think I'm done")

Don’t tell me what I can’t do!

I almost died coming down this ravine, but I pretended to be panic-free for the pic

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7 thoughts on “Program Review: Outback Trek @ Hell Hollow

  1. I love all the wonderful programs the parks put on, I wish they did a better job advertising. Glad you had fun. I can’t wait until the kid is old enough to do stuff like that with. Well I guess I can b/c I’ll be in my 40s!

  2. OMG, that looks so fun. What’s with you and doing cool hikes/races where no one shows up?

    Last year, I did a hike on Mt. Ranier in Washington and it was really beautiful like that with the snow cover.

    You make me miss snow.

  3. Pingback: Program Review: Spring Wine and Cheese Hike @ Chapin Forest « Days go by and I grow stronger

  4. Pingback: Program Review: Spring Wine and Cheese Hike @ Chapin Forest « Days go by and I grow stronger | The Tree Blog

  5. Pingback: Lake Metropark Goodies « Days go by and I grow stronger

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