This project has been such a great learning experience for me, I started it on a whim in March 2016 while out watching for wildflowers (which in and of itself turned out to be an amazing independent study for me). I walked the same trail every day for a full month observing changes, growth, erosion, watching how winter changes to spring, spring to summer, summer to fall, and fall back to winter. It opened my eyes to the life-cycles of plants - what ones bloom and die (like the dutchman's breeches), what ones stay long after their blooms (like the bloodroot and wild ginger leaves), what ones come along much later in the season but certainly claim their place (like the bedstraw, nettles, and goldenrod). It amazed me just how abrupt the seasons do change, from May to June the whole forest turned green, then from October to November it all disappeared.
Below is a collage of each month's view of the trail - click on each picture to be taken to that month's post.
I want to thank you all for following along on this project, I hope you got as much out of this as I have (or even if it merely inspired you at all to go outside and explore your world, I'd call that a win!).
February's hike was a fantastically snow covered one,
the early morning snow still clinging to the trees,
for just one moment the world was quiet and calm.
February is a tough month (at least for me) it's still cold, dark, and not much seems to be happening. I'm still challenging myself to get outside at least three times per week during the months I'd most rather stay indoors and read, it's been tough but there have been some wonderful moments I've experienced just by being out.
The photos below are from just one day's adventure, I found a flock of Tundra Swans hanging out in Funk, the first shoots of the Skunk Cabbage, I watched Harriers hover and dart over a meadow, a nesting pair of Bald Eagles worked to find just the right nesting supplies, and found a great variety of mosses and lichen while enjoying my stroll.
February is modest, it brings the birds back, the buds on the trees, the earth starts opening once again - all without the grandiose and flourish of March & April's wildflowers or May's blooming trees.
February, I appreciate you.
For our New Year hike, we traveled up to Silver Creek Metro Park to take in the sights and start the year off with a lovely stroll in the woods (as has become our tradition). It was a bright and brisk morning and it seems many others had the same idea as us! It's a beautiful thing, seeing people bundle up to enjoy nature. Besides all the personal health benefits, it really bodes well for the Earth, knowing that people can form a great appreciation for our natural resources by hiking around parks and natural areas. That appreciation and joy for wandering through the woods can influence people to take a stand against all the things that are destroying our finite natural resources.
Take a moment to think about some of your favorite components of nature, do you have a favorite bird song that ushers in the spring, or perhaps a flower that reminds you of a beautiful time in your life. These are constantly in jeopardy, but as more and more people, more generations, are exposed to all the great things nature has to offer, the more they'll care to save, learn, and work towards innovating new ideas for a clean and sustainable future.
Can you even believe it's already been a month? Today's trek was nice, the smell of freshly fallen leaves, the sounds of the crunching underfoot, the birds flitting about as if it were springtime again.
At this point on the Trillium hill, most of the plants have withered away, receeding into their winter home under a blanket of leaves. The majority of the remaining green (besides the evergreen 'christmas' ferns) can be found in the waterleaf, holding on as best it can, and the blue stemmed goldenrod or wand goldenrod which has gone to seed. Once more the pines in the distance are quite visible, as are the fallen trees.
What an interesting experiment this has been!
The leaves have all fallen,
the sun sets early now,
winter will soon be upon us.
As the sky sheds it's first flakes of snow, your first instinct may be to lock yourself inside with a warm cup of tea and put away your hiking boots until spring. Do not do this! (except maybe the tea, yum!)
Hiking in the winter can be just as enjoyable as any other time as long as you are properly dressed and prepared for any and all the elements.
Honestly, until the past few years I dreaded winter, I hated not being outside, I felt my body deteriorating due to lack of physical activity (sure I could go to the gym but ugh), the lack of natural light would stoke the flames of winter depression, but most of all I could not stand being cold.
All of these problems I was able to fix in one easy step.... dressing properly for the outdoors!
Once I made this one little change, winter was no longer a daunting task; being outside, getting my muscles moving, enjoying the sharp winter sun, all helped alleviate the seasonal depression. Before I knew it I was enjoying winter hiking just as much as summer. Winter posed a challenge to me, all the trails I could fly through in the warm months were once again challenging, I had to push myself physically and mentally through drifts of snow, up icy hills, down steep slopes.
Tips for safely enjoying winter hiking.
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.