January 2019 was taken on the characteristics of last winter; very low temperatures until precipitation was in the forecast at which point temperatures would rise and we would see rain. As we past the mid-point of the month it really looked like we would be able get some winter activities in with 12 to 16 inches of snow predicated. Alas, we received 9 inches of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. There was enough white stuff on the ground that my husband decided to dust off the snowshoes and go on his own adventure before the 1 inch of rain came in 2 days later. Unfortunately I could not accompany him and hoped that the weekend would still provide decent conditions.
By the end of the week, there was still something white on the ground, so we threw the snowshoes and the spikes in the car and decided to test the conditions at Merryspring. After studying the field nearest the parking lot, we knew that there was not enough snow on the ground for snowshoes but did we need the spikes. We first opted to go without the spikes but after both of us slipped after just a few feet we donned the spikes and set off on our walk.
Once we eliminated the fear of falling, we set off on the perimeter trail, designated with blue tags on the trees labeled “1”. These were new markers and stood out much more clearly than the old wooden posts with faded numbers on them.
It certainly was a beautiful day! The sky was a near perfect blue and the sun was illuminating the tops of the trees. That highlight on the trees always makes me pause. A little further on, we hesitated once again to study the old stone well and stream below us.
We stepped briefly out of the woods and into an open space before locating the marker that directed us back towards another section of forest. Where the fields where covered with a few inches of snow and ice patches, the wooded section was pretty wet underneath the snow. We noticed some shallower sections of the white stuff and soon realized that the indentations marked the bog breaches hidden from view. It was a little difficult navigating this area since we frequently caught the side of a hidden board which caused us to step a bit deeper than we had anticipated. At one bridge, I decided to take a photo of my husband and he joked that the amount of time I needed to take the picture caused his spikes to sink into the soft wood preventing him for moving on. (I didn’t take that long!)
Soon, we noticed that there were small signs identifying the nearby trees. Oh horror! We were in the arboretum section of the preserve. The trail designations in this area used to be “a1” thru “a7”. Every time we have been here, we have struggled to find our way back to the perimeter trail, passing “a3” or “a7” numerous times before locating the correct path. Over this past year however, extensive trail work had been done in this area, so we soon noticed that the arboretum section was designated with colored blazes (again more visible that the old wooden signs) and we quickly located our blue “1” tag.
Once we were safely back on the proper path, I noticed a tree that had been attacked by some serious pileated woodpecker activity. Peering inside these holes, I could see daylight coming through the tree. The face left behind by this artwork did seem to express some astonished dismay.
Near the end of our journey, we passed by a very wet area now frozen. We could hear the ice cracking and paused to observe the upheaval of the melting ice. We did try but the pictures did not do justice to the beauty of the scene. It was just one of those things that had to be experienced in person.