I messed up the numbering…
This past week, we pared down our lofty goals for a couple of reasons. First, it was hot as Hades. I mean the hottest part of hot Hades. Humid too. Second, we try to go on Saturdays, but the boy child was in a basketball tournament that day. Outdoors. Humid Hades outdoors. He didn’t need a hike the same day as the tourney.
Sunday morning we moseyed to one of our local Great Parks, Shawnee Lookout. There are three hiking trails and we picked the Miami Fort Trail. The reviews said at about the halfway point, you could turn off the loop and go see a breathtaking view of the spot where the Great Miami River flows into the Ohio.
The hike in total was only a couple of miles, but with the heat and the hilliness, it felt more substantial. There were a lot of markers along the way, explaining that this spot was home to a multitude of Indian tribes, the last being the Shawnee. The fort was more strategic, or maybe ceremonial, than military-related. It’s a prime lookout spot – high, dense, and overlooking a couple of rivers. Some burial mounds and loads of evidence of thousands of years of villages have been uncovered. The area is massive.
I can barely get through a hike without some existential angst – this was over the unknowable; what our European forebears destroyed in the name of civilization. I know by my lily-white skin that I am the beneficiary of all this victorious violence, but whether it’s an old Indian fort or old pictures of unknown relatives in Ireland that I found in my uncle’s apartment, the undefinable loss is palpable.
As I kid I learned it was the good guys against the bad guys. The people of God against the savages. All this land was the just reward for our Manifest Destiny.
But that’s not the truth of it.
In ways that were pretty darned ugly.
The rest of the City on the Hill crap is just what we tell ourselves for comfort.
I know I’m sounding like Holden Caufield (again) but the phony flag waivers that try to convince us that we are moral victors who deserved America make me want to vomit. As the old Watergatey expression goes: it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup.
Back to the hike.
Did I mention it was hot?
The lookout view was nice, but not the breathtaking one I think you’d find in the fall, winter, and spring. The old growth forest was doing its thing and blocked much of what I imagined the view to be.
Hm. This is all sounding a little negative. What I haven’t mentioned is how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country with a strong, verdant park system. I love to see what our virginal territory looked like.
And there was the education. One of the signs mentioned “riparian” lands just beyond the fort. It’s a word I couldn’t define.
Also, there were signs all around the fort like this one. I immediately associated these with Dante’s OCD hell levels. But according to articles like this one, borrow pits indicate where earth was removed and used elsewhere. There is still uncertainty about purpose of this whole “fort,” but there are some indications that the borrow pits were part of a sophisticated irrigation system.
Cool stuff and educated guesses.
Next week we’re shooting for less angst. And maybe some watercraft.