Section Hiking Family: The Giffords

Jeffrey Gifford Hiking The Giffords Hiking

How many miles of the Buckeye Trail have you hiked so far?
We have hiked about 40 miles of the Buckeye Trail, much of that as a family. Since the BT spans the state from Lake Erie to the Ohio River, there's still plenty of trail (about 1400 more miles) to cover.
How many years have you been doing it?
We've intentionally been hiking the BT for about two years. Prior to that, we'd be out on a day hike and see the blue blazes without thinking too much about it. I'm not sure what got us thinking about some day hiking the whole trail, but about two years ago we ordered a handful of the maps covering our nearby sections and got going.
What sections have you completed?
We've mostly hiked in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. That includes portions of the Medina, Bedford and Akron sections. These days we're looking to connect the parts that we've completed before we expand outside our region.
Why do you keep coming back to the Buckeye Trail?
Now that we know what we're looking for, it's not uncommon to spot a blue blaze passing through a town or see a signpost on the edge of a forest showing where the BT is passing through. So much of our day-to-day life is spent within just a few miles of this trail that we thought we'd explore where it leads.
The BT seems to link up those areas in Ohio that are still wild and unspoiled (or growing back). It's possible to start a hike in the middle of town and very quickly enjoy un-peopled woods and fields. And, with the Cuyahoga Valley National Park so close to us (and the BT running down the middle of it), it's just something we need to do.
We remember a time when we had our heels in Lake Erie at the northern terminus, looking south and thinking that a string of blue blazes was all that separated us from the Ohio River. They practically just beg to be followed.
How many people do you normally hike with?
I usually hike with the other five members of my family, my wife and our four children. They currently range in ages from 4 to 14, so we don't always get many miles in at a time. I think it's neat that the kids hike it themselves; not even the four year-old gets carried (except over river crossings)!
How many days and/or miles do you do at a time?
We typically keep to a morning or afternoon hike. There aren't many official campsites available on the trail (especially in our region) and so we usually just day-hike. I'm looking forward to the day when we can extend our reach and take in a weekend overnighter (or even longer) and see some different parts of the state, including the North Country Trail on the BT in southern Ohio.
Do you have a trail name? If yes, what is it and what's the story behind it?
Given the circumstances, I tend to get called "Dad" a lot. 
What has hiking the Buckeye Trail taught you that you've applied in "ordinary life?"
Most of the BT in our region is through rural and forested areas linked to occasional areas of greater population density. Given that, it's not uncommon to find a trail of blue blazes that pass through town and then quickly "disappear" into the woods on the outskirts. 
This is an easy daily reminder that adventure is out there, usually not too far away.
Jeffrey Gifford submitted this Section Hiker Profile as part of the Gossamer Gear Pick Your Pack Raffle.

Buckeye Trail Blaze

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