Great Day For a Hike!

SDCI vice president Lynell Tobler hikes the Serpentine Trail on a balmy February Saturday
Hello, everyone!
As a longtime volunteer at Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, I spend a lot of time behind the front desk at the visitor center, so on a recent Saturday I was excited to get out on the Serpentine trail for some fresh air! I couldn't believe my good fortune when the weather turned out to be perfect for a mid-afternoon hike. Here it is, mid-February, and the temperature reached into the low 70s both Saturday and Sunday.  It's been fairly dry lately, so the trails are not muddy.  On the day I chose for my walk, the sky was a deep blue and there was only a slight breeze on the air.  I wore a T-shirt.  In February!

For those of you wanting to get a workout with your fresh air, let me add that I timed my hike and I tracked the number of steps on my Fitbit device. For the record, I did the entire 2.5 mile circuit in under an hour (55 minutes to be exact) and took 5,901 steps in the process. The trail is delightfully wide in most spots, although I recommend you stay in the middle even when the way is broad, since some plants unique to our ecosystem are trying to emerge from their winter slumber right at the trail's edge this time of year, and ticks are already appearing due to our mild cold season. Ticks cling to the tall grasses and wait for an unsuspecting deer (or human) to walk by.  As soon as a mammal brushes up against a blade of grass, the opportunistic tick hops on for the ride, so it is critical to not only stay on the trail but to stay in the middle so you don't brush up against the grass.

I encountered numerous hikers along the serpentine trail Saturday, all out enjoying the brilliant sunshine and unseasonably balmy weather. Every hiker I saw with a dog had their pet appropriately tethered to a short leash, which is so important, not only to prevent the dog from getting ticks but also to preserve the aforementioned rare plants that are so easily trampled at the trail's edge. Everyone seemed to really be enjoying themselves out on our trails!

The following day I was back at my post, staffing the visitor center and answering questions from guests. It was another glorious, spring-like day and the trails were once again full of families getting a welcome dose of spring-like air.  At the end of my shift, our visitor center had tallied 103 adults and 18 children for the day, not counting a group of Serpentine Ecosystem Restoration Program volunteers who had spent the day eradicating invasive plants out on the barrens. That's 121 people, surely a record for visitors in February.

So take it from me. The weatherman is predicting spring-like weather for the for the next two weekends. Take advantage of the sunshine and warmth. Get out and hike one of the amazing trails at Soldiers Delight. You'll be so glad you did, and you'll get your required allotment of steps in for the day in a gorgeous, all-natural setting!
Lynell Tobler, vice president

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