A long-overdue wintry hike

2 Feb

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m a huge fan of our Webster trails. I’ve hiked each one of them countless times, many times by myself, several times with my husband, and even a few times with larger groups. But those occasions were always in the warmer months. I’d never hiked one in the winter.

That all changed on Monday.

That afternoon, I introduced my new friend Patty to one of my favorites, Four Mile Creek Nature Preserve, located at the corner of Lake and Phillips roads. The Friends of Webster Trails has cleared and marked three separate trails in the preserve, which together take hikers almost three miles through some beautiful and very peaceful woodlands along Salt Creek and Four Mile Creek.

I like this series of trails in part because they’re very well maintained (as are all the Friends’ trails), are easy to walk, and boast some beautiful scenery marked by the creeks, boardwalks and bridges. But it also tosses some first-time hikers a few surprises. In at least two places along the trail, you’ll come across some old, rusted-out 1950s sedans, slowly but surely losing their fight with nature and the elements. (Click here to read more about the cars.)

I return to hike Four Mile Creek occasionally just to see those cars. But on this trip the Yellow Trail held a few more surprises. On three separate trees, someone had hung some tin cans. One set looked like a person, complete with eyes. The others had been colorfully painted (one even had polka dots). On yet another tree, someone had hung an angel. I can only assume that they’d been put there to brighten a hiker’s day.

Exploring these trails in the winter was an entirely different, but equally enjoyable experience from doing so in the summer. The sight of the bare trees against the clear blue sky was stunning. The thick undergrowth was replaced by a carpet of bright-white snow. I didn’t see many of the small creatures I usually see on my warm-weather hikes, but I knew they were around; their presence was betrayed by the tracks they left everywhere. And the entire scene was enveloped by the kind of absolute silence we don’t get to experience much these days.

Being able to enjoy the trail this time with a new friend made it even better. How we met is kind of a nice story, too.

Patty recently moved to the Village of Webster, and happened upon my blog. An avid hiker, she reached out to me several weeks ago asking if I knew about any organized hikes she might join. Of course, I introduced her to the Friends of Webster Trails and the monthly hikes they put together. But I also offered to personally introduce her to some of our local trails, explaining that I’d long wanted to invest in some hiking boots and this would be a good excuse.

It took me a little while to find the boots I wanted, but I eventually did, and we finally got together for our first hike this week. It couldn’t have been a better day, in the 30s and clear blue skies. I’m already looking forward to our next outing. I just have to figure out which trail I like SECOND best.

Here are some more photos from our day on the trail, taken by Patty, who is also an excellent photographer.

P.S. the boots worked very well, thank you.

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