Weekly Walk 19

Remember how I said it felt like spring last week?

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It’s now seven weeks after the winter solstice, and we’ve had two winter storms since our hike last week.

To prepare for this week’s snowy, 18°F hike, we took with us:

  • Snowshoes
  • Hand warmers
  • Toe warmers
  • Neck warmers
  • Base layers
  • Hats
  • Coats
  • Snow pants
  • Snow boots
  • Mittens/gloves
  • Camera
  • Tissues

Five minutes in, we’d re-installed my son’s feet in his snowshoes twice and my daughter’s three times. My daughter was crying. “I’m cold, and I hate this hike!” she said, snot dripping from her nose. I was nearly crying because my fingers were frozen from trying to tighten the snowshoe straps around their boots. (And yes, snot was dripping from my nose, too. I would had to have taken off my gloves again to get to my tissues, and it just didn’t seem worth it.)

Snowy creek

Snowy creek

I distributed hand warmers, tightened the heck out of their snowshoes, and we headed up the trail again.

Five minutes later, my son took off his snowshoes and decided to walk in just his boots. We were the first on the trail since yesterday’s storm, so that meant he got to plow through a foot of untouched (although nice and powdery) snow. I decided to postpone the inevitable flagging of his enthusiasm by going in front so he could hike in the snow my snowshoes had tramped down.

Sappy photo.

Sappy photo.

After five minutes of mostly forward progress, my daughter had removed her snowshoes. My son, complaining that he was too hot, removed his mittens, unzipped his coat, and pushed his hat back on his head. And so we continued, kids mostly happily carrying their snowshoes, for the rest of the hike.

Deer tracks.

Deer tracks.

This week’s hike seemed all about birds.

At the lake we saw Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) out on the ice.

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“They do that by removing all of their body heat from their legs. That way their legs don’t freeze,” my son explained.

“Oh?” I said. “How does that work?”

“I don’t know exactly,” he admitted. “It’s just what I heard on Wild Kratts.”

At the meadow, we saw a Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

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…and many Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis).

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Back in the woods we saw an acrobatic Black-capped Chickadee (Parus atricapillus).

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We also saw a junco, a nuthatch, and something that might have been a robin, but I didn’t get good photos of those.

In the end, the hike was a success, but we were all happy to get back to the car.

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