By Jelane A. Kennedy
For several years now we have been going on a hike on New Years Day. When our schedule permits we have also made the first week of the new-year our re-boot time in nature. Usually our “first” hike has been on snowshoes although with the changes in weather we have been experiencing in the last few years we sometimes have found ourselves dealing with ice. So we have added micro-spikes to our gear and this has helped add to our safety. One of the things I love best about winter hiking is that there are no bugs! I spend less time swatting mosquitos and more time smiling at the scenery. Winter hiking requires more clothes and sometimes layering off and layering on as the hike progresses.
Our winter gear has a variety of choices; it always starts with nice warm insulated boots. Sometimes like this year if the path is well trod and packed it is all we need. Our first hike for 2017 took place at Saratoga Spa State Park, in Saratoga Springs, New York. Governor Cuomo started the program a couple years ago where a few State Parks are open and some offer guided hikes. Many States have a similar program.
This year was our first time to participate in a guided hike. We met at the Park Office with about 20 other hearty souls. The air was crisp and clear. Everyone seemed excited to go. We were each given a scarf and a small tasting cup. Our hike was to learn about the “waters” as they say. The young man who was our leader explained the era of the buildings and the important symbolism related to the water all round. We then began a loop hike down to taste several of the springs, from the light tasting to the more strongly effervescent sulfur tasting. The sun was out and it was a great day! We even saw a group on horse back playing in the snow. I would encourage anyone to take a guided springs hike any time of the year.
On the second day of the year this year, we had a great hike with friends to one of the sweetest little hikes in the Schroon Lake region, Gull Pond. The hike is only a half-mile long and makes little changes in elevation. So round trip makes it a mile. If you want to do a little extra you can walk over the camping area and round more of the pond. During high summer it can be challenging with mosquitoes that are pretty oppressive. But in winter and spring you can make this little stroll without them being an issue. The view of the pond with the large stonewall that just pops out of no where at the top of a rise, is the big reward.
As our friend Larry says, “Little effort, big reward!”
Our past New Years week hikes have included hiking in North Conway, New Hampshire. Which is where we ended up with learning about micro-spikes. That year there was more ice then snow. They were a Christmas present to ourselves that we can’t imagine living without. They have really given us the opportunity to expand our hiking during those in between times and icy times that we have been experiencing more of late.
Another winter hiking area we have enjoyed has been Moreau Lake State Park just south of Glens Falls, New York. This is another of the State Park’s that Governor Cuomo has opened the last few years. There is a great warming hut that is open during the winter.
We have also gone snow hiking in Ticonderoga area. One of the hikes we like in that area is Lost Pond. We were introduced to this hike from a staff person at the Best Western in Ticonderoga. It is a great hike that is just at the entrance of Putnam Pond camping ground. You can easily miss the parking area if you are focused on the entrance to the campground. It is just off to the left just before the park entrance road. Lost Pond follows a creek that many times you can still hear during the winter. The terrain is a bit up and down. The view of the pond is well worth the hike.
Adding to the list is a fun winter hike is at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox Lake, New York. The road to the Center is wide and flat. Many times we park off the road and walk into the Center. Walking along the road is a great way to really see the marsh. Once getting to the main parking lot we also walk many of the roads in the center. If the lake is frozen we have also snow shoed across the lake.
Winter hiking is one of the things I love most about the winter season. The crisp air, bright sun on the sparkling snow, the feel of the cool air on my face while being warm in my winter gear. The snow many times reminds me of sand dunes when the wind has add the little ripples as it sculpts the snow. Reboot your time in nature and enjoy a great winter hike!!
© 2017 Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran