Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Don't Miss This Weekend!

We have snow and weather in our favor for this weekends big event, the Libby Hill Fun Day! I have been getting emails and calls asking for directions and more information for the past 10 days. There are so many reasons for you to come by this Saturday but here are a few ideas for you.

If you have kids:
-Sign them up for the snowshoe or ski races (9-10:30am)
-Bring your own snacks or support our fundraising food vendor
-Try out a pair of snowshoes for free at the EMS tent
-Bring your sleds and snow tubes, the sliding is great, sledding games too
-learn about animal tracks (then go find them)
-learn about safety and survival in the woods
-learn about hiking 'green'
-see actual predators in a presentation
-test drive our new Orienteering course (a great activity for your family year round); classes held all day
-sign up for a guided snowshoe tour
-gather around the bonfire
-take a hay wagon ride

If you are an adult:
-do all the same stuff the kids do!
-get involved with Libby Hill
-get maps of the trails
-ask trail experts on what else you can do at Libby Hill
-join the 'Friends of Libby Hill'

Keep in mind we are sponsoring this event with a minimum of volunteers and money but we think it is a phenomenal opportunity for fun in winter. You can help by offering to volunteer or 'pay it forward' by contributing money in our contribution 'buckets'. What you do this weekend will determine future events at Libby Hill. Keep the fun coming by doing what you can do to support this special place.

Finally, I going to promote the event that I'm responsible for: "the guided snowshoe trek" which occurs from 2-4:30pm. This event is a new route (for those of you whom have been on other treks). The tour will first navigate the springs of Libby Hill and take you over 'cloud like' hummocks (see middle picture) of snow where you almost feel like you are floating over the snow. Then we get to the frozen beaver pond, an area inaccessible for most of the year (see top most photo). The next leg hits part of the Outback trail where you can plan your next adventure on your own. Then we get back to the popular Thayer brook area where we may see all sorts of tracks. Last Sunday you could see where a beaver came out of the water through the ice and bellied up the bank to look for bark....very cool (see bottom photo).

You can see over 20 photos of the trek at our photo album area at this link .

This tour has only 20 slots so please register at the information booth if you want to reserve your spot. You should bring some water and be prepared for an intermediate snowshoe hike of 2.5 miles. We will stop frequently and give everyone lots of time to socialize on the tour.

So if you like indoor or outdoor events, I'm sure you'll find something fun to do this weekend at Libby Hill, see you there!

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Lots Happening This Month

Our Full Moon Snowshoe event has been wildly popular. I have gotten over 2 dozen folks who are very excited to explore Libby Hill at night. We may schedule another full moon event in the future depending on the feedback we get from trail users. For those seeking to follow the route of the tour, a webpage will be posted later this week outlining the tour.

Meanwhile, our Orienteering course is nearing its grand opening on March 1st (at our fun day). Tracy Ross has put a tremendous effort in mapping and laying out a world class series of orienteering classes. If you are looking for a new way to get your kids interested in outdoor activities, you'll want to check out her Orienteering tent at the Fun day.

Speaking of fun, our March 1st fun day is only a week away, the full schedule is posted at www.libbyhill.org . Plan your March 1st to enjoy our biggest event of the year. There are lots of fun things for all ages and interests. Activities are inside and outside depending on your taste in activities.

Yet, despite all the great things happening this month, the ice storm really put our volunteers to the test this past weekend. Hundreds of pine branches dropped on the ski trails and then froze solid on Friday blocking the snow groomer from going down the trails. With Carl Holmquist leading the charge, over 2 dozen volunteers opened the trails up enough to get the ski trails open again. Most trail users probably don't realize how much effort it takes to keep the trails going. You can help keep these volunteers motivated by supporting Libby Hill in any way you can. This may mean attending the March 1st event, volunteering, donating money, or joining our new "Friends of Libby Hill" organization.

At the end of the day though, the hill is always there. Don't let another year go by if you haven't discovered Libby Hill, this is your year!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Full Moon Snowshoe - 1 Week Away

The snow gods have been more than kind the last 10 days! With over two feet of snow on the ground and a hard crust about to set by tomorrow, snowshoeing is exceptional! We still have a few slots left on our Full Moon Snowshoe on Wednesday February 20th. There is also a lunar eclipse that night at 10:30 for those wishing to extend their adventure (tour won't go that late though). If we are lucky, we should hear some Barred owls.

So, if you want to do something different next week, contact us soon to reserve your space on the walk (call Steve McPike, 657-2114) or email, libbyhilltrails@gmail.com.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Why Snowshoeing is so Great

You're thinking, warm temperatures, rain, the trail conditions must be crappy on Libby Hill, right? Well the ski trails are taking a beating but the groomed trails will hold on until the next snow. Snowshoeing on the other hand, is really good. The rain and cold night temperatures have created a superior crust. See the tracks the photo to the right, They barely break into the snow! This means you can go off tracks almost anywhere you want to explore!

Today I scoped out the route for our upcoming February 20th, full moon snowshoe walk. I wanted to find some new places to take folks that have been on our previous tours. Today, Doreen and I found some great places on the south ridge of Libby Hill, just east of the Harold Libbey Trail. For those of you who come to the event (please reserve your space see www.libbyhill.org), you will have a chance to quickly get off trail and visit the deer trails that lead down the spine of Libby Hill to Thayer brook. Since it is a night tour, we'll keep you high and dry but you'll see the woods in a whole different 'light', moonlight that is!

After making a loop on the south ridge, we'll stop at the Harold Libbey memorial for a break. Then its off bushwhacking the main section of Libby Hill Forest. In winter you can go right down the middle of the property eventually making a loop to the views on he east. We should reach the top of Libby Hill when the moon is about 30 degrees up on the horizon providing great light on the open areas under the large pines.

The whole tour will take about 2 hours, so hurry if you want to reserve a space! If you can make that tour, be sure to get out and explore during the day. Conditions only continue to for the snowshoers even while the skiers are home praying for snow!
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Sunday, February 3, 2008

530 Reasons Why January Was Great

We aren't exactly Google or Amazon.com but we think our website does a good job helping us spread the word about Libby Hill Forest Trails. I keep track of our web activity each month and last fall decided to step up web features and increase publicity about Libby Hill. Typically over the past 2 years, about 180 unique people a month check out our website. In October we had our best month of 270 unique people due to a front page article in the local paper. However, the good early snow combined, monthly trail events, and posted current trail conditions have made January 2008 our best month so far at 530 unique visitors to our website!

It's often hard to gauge how much usage our trails get. We have noticed that weekends are busier and we anecdotally see more and more folks out on the trails. While certainly the website views don't translate into trail users, it is a good barometer that the word is getting out that Libby Hill Trails are a great resource in Gray! We also know that the places people go most are:

  • Trail Blog (current conditions)
  • Trail Maps
  • Snowshoe Guide
  • Trail Guide
  • Contact Us
  • Trails Nearby
  • Events
  • How You Can Help
  • Snowmobile Trail Maps
In particular I have been most happy that the maps and trail guides have been viewed hundreds of times per month. It's kind of like "if you build it they will come" philosophy but without the web stats I really wouldn't know if anyone ever got to read it.

So we are at the 'half time' of the winter, with some warm temperatures and a dearth of snow. Time is on our side though, with our biggest snow months ahead so while we all pause to enjoy another 2 months of winter sports, give some thoughts about what you like about Libby Hill Trails. What do you like most about the webpage? What would you like to see added? Do you have some good pictures of the trail? Would you consider sharing them with us? Would you like to help keep the momentum of Libby Hill Trails moving forward? Could you volunteer some time? Give us your thoughts via at libbyhilltrails@gmail.com or click the 'comment' box on this entry in the blog. Libby Hill Trails wants your ideas and your help!