Saturday, January 7, 2017

It's January!

The danger of having an extended streak of anything is the compulsion to keep it going, despite external (or internal) challenges. Today, that meant going for a walk in 10°F sunshine during a brief break between other activities.

I stopped by Liberty Township's Wetlands Park, hoping that the paved trail would be reasonably clear of snow. It wasn't, except for the few areas in full sun, but the path wasn't too slippery. Many people and quite a few dogs had already been out; it was good to see that the trail was getting use despite the weather.

Heading out from the west parking area, I followed the trail eastward, paralleling the highway. The trail was snow-covered until it emerged from the trees by a small pond; there, the winter sunlight had worked over the past couple days to clear and dry the path. I continued along, back into the woods, until the top of the slope down to Lesourdsville West Chester Road. At that point, I didn't want to chance a  fall and so I turned onto the Buckeye Trail (no, not that one) to return to the parking lot. When I started out, my intention was to stick to the paved paths, but since I was already tramping through snow, I figured the natural surface trails wouldn't be any worse.

Winter hiking often presents a difficult choice between staying in the sunny but windy open areas and hiking through the shaded windbreaks of leafless woods. Today, it was cold enough that it didn't make much difference. At one point, I could feel solid ice built up around my mustache from frozen exhalations. I definitely could have been dressed more appropriately - the hazards of having a full (indoor) social agenda on either side of the hike.

Even so, don't let the cold weather dissuade you from getting out on the trail, especially on a sunny day. There's a unique beauty to the winter landscape, and even your most familiar trails take on a somewhat alien character when the soil is frozen and icicles hang from bare branches.

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