Monday, December 21, 2009

Here Comes the Sun!

I did something different this year, watch the fading of the shortest day of the year!  I did a 90 minute snowshoe into the woods at dusk on the solstice yesterday.  Cold temperatures have really hardened up all the trails, you can probably get by with hiking boots although snowshoes will keep you from slipping.

You can see signs of life in winter if you examine what falls onto the snow.   In several places you will find where deer have cleared 8 foot circles of snow to uproot acorns that they so desperately need to eat.  Also look under big pine trees and you'll see the skeletons of pine cones that have been picked clean, segment by segment, by red squirrels.  In some places you'll see big chips of wood in the snow.  If you look upward you'll see the woodpecker holes that have recently been created leaving the chips below.

The chaos of the holiday is in full gear but in a few short days it all comes to an end.  Folks will be looking to try out their new winter gear and discovering how fun winter can be.  The days will slowly start to lengthen, resolutions will be made, and another winter begins at Libby Hill.  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Joy of First Tracks of the Season

Something happened this past week; winter happened! From 68 degrees to wind chills below zero, it must be December in Maine! The large storm on Wednesday has made winter sports a reality with very good snowshoe conditions, although skiing is less than ideal until more snow comes.

I spent the afternoon checking snowshoe trails and was very happy to see that 75% had already been 'broken' by other trail users! This is a sure sign of how popular Libby Hill is becoming for snowshoers. Three years ago the snowshoe trails were almost unknown and it required that I had to break all 2.5 miles (we now have 4 miles). Now maybe 2.5 miles doesn't seem far but if snow is more than 6 inches you get quite a workout if you are the first one out on the trails. Today though I only had to break about 1/2 mile of trail. We also met another couple out on the trails today. I was pleased to learn they are 'regulars' and already have made the Ghost and Lynx trails their favorites. They even took on breaking the winter trail that continues past the Ghost trail.

Not many birds in the woods today, only a small gang of titmice who came by to see what were up to. Even deer tracks were pretty sparse. After a couple of hours we returned to the parking lot. I did my weekly check of the donation post and found we had no donations this week. Either the Grinch or Scrooge must have been on the trails today! Regardless, take a couple of hours off from the busy holiday season and get some great physical and mental relief on the trails.
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