Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blogs, Facebook, and web sites... changes coming!

One of the features that makes Libby Hill Trails unique is our online presence! turns 9 years old this month and continues to get more traffic each year.   This blog was started 2 and 1/2 years ago to provide a method for volunteers and trail users to input feedback on trails.  The blog also hosts our current conditions which appears to be our most popular feature on it. 

What has surprised us is our recent foray into Facebook where our friend list is growing every week! It is very apparent that the interface of Facebook works much better for friends and trail users of Libby Hill.  So starting April 1, 2010 we will close the blog and continue host all of our digital content on both and Facebook .  The current trail conditions section will move to a new dedicated page on the website and all photos will continue to be viewable on the web site as well.  I appreciate those who have left comments on this blog and the readers who came to visit this blog.  We'll keep you updated on Libby Hill through our newsletter and web site so don't worry, you'll always be able to get to the maps and materials you need.  Thanks for visiting and see you on the hill!

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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Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Trails and Places to Explore

With the opening of the Lynx and Ghost trails this month trail users have even more reasons to get out on the trails. The Lynx trail quickly gets you into the woods and a natural setting, whether you have 30 minutes or 4 hours, there is no excuse for not coming out on the trails now. The amazing part is that the new trails already look like they always belonged here! For a quick work out consider taking a loop that includes the Lynx > Harold Libbey > Moose Odyssey Loop. It would be a nice 1.5 mile walk and rejunventate you after a day of stress!
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Finding the Warblers

You've probably spent many hours in the woods. You've heard those echoing songs of birds deep in the woods. You may not have noticed that the songs have many variations, meaning there are many different types of birds, mostly warblers making these songs. In June, warblers are busy with their nests and are scattered all over the hill. Last year our bird watch hosted by Derek Lovitch of Freeport Wild Bird Supply opened my eyes to the over 40 species of birds that inhabit Libby Hill.

Now you'll see me with a pair of binoculars hanging from my neck trying to sneak a peak of one of the elusive warblers in the woods. My biggest challenge lately has been to see an oven bird. This bird is always sings...."teacher... teacher....teacher" when you are walking in the woods. Try as I might, I couldn't catch a glimpse of this bird even though I heard 4 of them in spots near the Middle School, Harold Libbey at top of hill, and near Holmquist Hollow. Then last week while walking by the old quarry I almost stepped on one that was sitting right on the trail; just waiting for me!

So, on your next stroll on the hill, keep an eye out for my friend and see if you can see him or his other friends: yellow throat, black throated blue warbler, or a dozen other species. Happy exploring!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

No Job, Tough Economy?

These are challenging times, change is everywhere. If you have been unfortunate and lost your job, consider volunteering. Volunteer work gives you some routine, helps you develop new skills, meet new people, and network for possible jobs. I myself have found that when being between jobs, working on Libby Hill was a great catalyst for me. I felt like I was doing something constructive with my time and looking back that time spent adding a trail and doing a number of other activities, were some of my most meaningful work.

If you have interest in committing some time toward a project on Libby Hill consider contacting me (Steve McPike) at 657-2114 or . We have a number of tasks that you can work on at your own schedule. It can be very therapeutic to get out in the woods on a summer day and see the fruits of your labor. So consider doing something completely different while at the same time building your skillsets and adding to your resume. You'll also have great answers at your next interview where you'll get asked "what have you been doing between jobs".

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring... an new time to discover

Maybe you think this is 'mud season' with big ruts in your yard and no options for fun outdoors. You may also think Libby Hill is just for winter sports when in fact you may find that is even more interesting when the snow melts! In Gray we have mostly gravel soils, this combined with slopes results in some of the fastest drying times for trails in Maine. In just the last week the Harold Libbey Trail went from snow to mostly bone dry hiking. Here are some of the things you can do in spring:

1) Get in shape for summer walking and hiking

2) Got 20 minutes? Jump out of your car and walk on Turkey Trot by the Pond, lots of birds are coming by during migration! Turtles will also be appearing on the logs in the pond, take some binoculars.

3) Learn how to Geocache (see

4) Have the kids do some Orienteering

5) Discover Vernal Pools and listen for spring peepers and frogs

6) Photograph ferns as they open

7) Look for wildflowers or ID trees with your kids using our ID map!

8) Long days mean lots of time after work to get some exercise and clear your head after a tough day at work!

9) Fly a kite at the ball field

10) Help with Spring Clean up.... we have lots of projects you can do on your own or with a group.... just ask!
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