Polar Vortex Doesn't Bother Land Stewards
With the arrival of frigid winter temperatures, you might expect the Forest Society’s volunteer land stewards to go into a hibernation of sorts until Spring. But that’s just not the case. Many stewards continue to monitor their adopted reservations during Winter, on snowshoes or cross-country skis, or even by snowmobile where appropriate corridors exist. With the leaves off the trees, boundary blazes can be easier to spot, and it’s a good time to explore off-trail with impunity- wetlands are frozen, and you can always find your way back by following your own tracks in the snow.
Some stewards find Winter a great time to share the forest with others by leading guided hikes, too. Land Stewards Cheryl Houston and Dick McNamara recently led a hike on the Wenny-Baker Forest in Hillsborough for a group of ten hardy explorers. The snow was too thin for snowshoes, but the group ascended Thompson Hill wearing micro-spiked boots and enjoyed scenic mountain views to the south and east. “It was cold,” remarked one participant, referring to the 10-degree mercury on the morning of the hike, “but Cheryl and Dick did a great job of guiding and describing the history of the property, and we really enjoyed the hike.”
Another snowshoe hike is planned on the Morse Preserve in Alton in February. Land Stewards Ken and Suzanne Marvin will lead this outing to the top of Pine Mountain for panoramic views of the Belknap Range and Lake Winnipesauke (registration and details here). The hike is 1.7 miles round-trip, and while there is some elevation gain, you can expect the group to travel at a pace that most individuals and families can enjoy. Expect to learn something too, as Ken is an avid winter tracker who loves to show others how to identify and interpret signs left by forest animals on the property. February may be cold this year, but make some time to enjoy the forest as many of our land stewards do- as Ken might say, “Just be glad you’re not a coyote who has to spend the entire month outside!”