With every river that runs through it, there is a river that runs to it—a merging of waters, a confluence of streams. Locally, there is a stream called Todd Fork that meets the Little Miami River in SW Ohio. Morrow, Ohio, to be exact.
On previous occasions, I have seen kids recreating at this spot along the shoreline. Kayaks and canoes are launched here also. During my brief stop, several vehicles slowed or stopped to check the quality and level of the rivers, as I did.
What is it about water—rivers or lakes—that brings us to the water’s edge? Is there something spiritual or soul refreshing? Perhaps there is something intuitive in the hymn, “Shall we gather at the river?” I think so.
What a great day for a ride. Sunny and in the lower 50s, I suited up and rolled my 2020 Moto Guzzi V7iii Rough out of the garage. Kissed my wife and reassured her I would ride safe.
I rolled out of the neighborhood and turned east along familiar roads. I always wanted to stop at the bridge over Todd’s Fork, but always seemed to be going in the other direction. Not today. This stream has some good fishing, but parking is not so easy to find.
Further down the road, and on Ohio SR 350, I stopped for a photo at Fort Ancient. This Hopewell Mound Community is one of the sites in Ohio that is under application as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Further on SR 350, where the highway crosses the Little Miami River, a popular river access site enables canoers and kayakers to enter the river. Morgan’s Canoe, sits next to this state access site, and offers canoes and kayaks for rent giving you a lazy meander down the river.
Crossing the river and winding up to the top of the bluff, I headed home to get ready for the opening day for baseball, Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates. It has always been a big rivalry. Go Reds.
Last year, Lin and I were mesmerized by an eagle camera near our home. A little over one mile away, as the eagle flies, the Little Miami Conservancy installed a camera above an eagle nest. From Winter into Spring, we watched a pair of eagles build up the nest, lay two eggs, watched them hatch, and raise the two eaglets until they fledged and disappeared on their own journey.
And now, the eagles are back. The camera is live. And, one egg was laid on Feb. 11, and a second egg laid on Valentine’s Day … captured on camera of course. It’s fascinating. Mesmerizing.
We live in a world where cameras are everywhere. We carry them in our pocket. Not much escapes the scrutiny of a camera somewhere, including our front doors. It’s like a George Orwellian fiction come true.
Some people travel the world to learn or experience new cultures. Some travel to find themselves. Some never leave home. But like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz said, “There’s no place like home.”
There is nothing wrong with expanding one’s horizons. It is good for the soul and personal growth, but what about exploring one’s own backyard? For me, it started with a presentation at a fly fishing club dinner meeting with a topic that renewed my interest of “rediscovering” the Little Miami River near my home.
The Little Miami Wild & Scenic River “has the distinction of being the first river in Ohio to be included in the National Wild & Scenic River System (1974), and the first to be added to the Ohio Scenic Rivers Program (1969).” Little Miami Conservancy.
Alongside the river is the Little Miami Scenic Trail, a Rails-to-Trail route that is 78 miles long and connects with other recreational trails.
I am sure that I am not alone in overlooking what is in my own backyard. We dream of places far away. Adventures into the unknown. Testing our limits. And yet, here is this incredible, river in my own backyard, and I want to know more about it. To enjoy its stream and the communities that it flows through. This is not a tall order, for it is truly in my backyard, just a hike down a hillside path through a nature preserve, or a quick drive down the road.
One of my favorite motorcycling roads follows the river, and I am always on the lookout for river access to wet a line with one of my fly rods. This year, I am going to spend more time fishing the river, and visiting the communities along its banks. Places like Clifton, Ohio, where the river passes through a spectacular gorge, and one can visit the Historic Clifton Mill for a meal and to step back in time. And then there is Yellow Springs, Xenia, Loveland and Milford, and others all ripe for exploration.
Maybe, just maybe, I will finally use one of the river canoe and kayak companies to canoe down the river. To see the wildlife and the river from a different perspective.
An incredible site to behold, even from the convenience of your home, is the Little Miami Conservancy Eagle Nest Cam. It is mesmerizing to see a pair of eagles build the nest, lay an egg or two and watch the chicks grow into maturity and then leave the nest after testing their wings. January is when it all begins.
This nest can be seen from the road along the river where I wander. It’s huge and most visible when the trees are barren of their leaves, but you have to know where to look.
Even though I have lived near this river for nearly 16 years, there is so much more I want to learn and experience. It’s going to be a rediscovery of my own backyard.