We never know how many to expect for any event, but the Greater Lovell Land Trust’s First Day hikes typically attract a maximum of nine. Today, however, we were wowed as eighteen gathered.
Before leaving parking lot #2 on Slab City Road to reach the trailhead for our loop up and down Whiting Hill at the Heald and Bradley Ponds Reserve, we all donned snowshoes and marveled at the mix of styles and colors.
Why snowshoes? Because Mother Nature dumped a foot of snow over the past two days and finally it felt like winter.
In single file, we marched along, but paused periodically, including to practice shouting. The phrase that bore repeating: Happy New Year.
Occasionally mammal prints made us stop in our tracks and for one we noted signs of urine. Hmmm, who exactly was the four-footed explorer? A red fox. And how could we be so certain? Because its pee smelled rather acrid and skunky. We initiated a few of our trekkers for they got down on all fours to take a whiff.
Other things also drew our attention along the way, including Mother Nature’s Snowball Tournament.
At last we reached the summit of Whiting, where the view encompassed Kezar Lake, but not so much the mountains for it was snowing.
While there, we shared hot cocoa and tea, pumpkin bread and scones, and lots of conversation. And again, we shouted, “Happy New Year.”
The temperature was just right and the snow the right consistency, that soon a few of us got creative.
Snow sculptures and a snowman became the focus of our intentions.
This snowman was extra classy for he chose to sport a mustache.
At first, he wanted to look into the woods, but eventually he decided to change his orientation and take in the vista of the lake and beyond.
Because we were in a festive mood, or maybe just because, a juggling act began to take shape.
In the form of snowballs.
Perhaps next year we’ll add a talent show to the day’s offerings.
In the midst of all the fun, conversations continued and old acquaintances were renewed while new friendships formed. What we love about any of our hikes is that by the end, whether you come as a frequent traveler or a newbie, you leave feeling like part of the crowd.
A couple have traveled this particular hike with us since its inception: Kitty and Dale Nelson. Kitty has been with us for three of the four years that we’ve offered a First Day hike and Dale hasn’t missed one yet.
Finally, we decided to call our time at the summit to a close. But first we needed to hear from those gathered. Mr. GLLT began by shouting: “Happy!”
To which the Mrs. added, “New!”
And the rest of us completed the phrase, “Year!” Additionally we shouted out the names of the towns we serve: “Stow, Stoneham, Sweden, Lovell, and even Chatham.”
Best wishes from all of us for a Happy New Year!