Friday, January 3, 2014

First Day Hike

January 1, 2014
Moreau Lake State Park, NY

This plain sheet of snow
which covered the ice of the pond,
Is not such a blankness as is unwritten,
but such as is unread.
All colors are in white.

   HDT Journal, December 19, 1840

It was 7 degrees when I woke up on this New Year’s Day, but instead of burrowing back under the covers like a sensible person, I got up and dressed for the outdoors.

Many of New York’s state parks had activities planned for today, and Moreau Lake was one of them.

The First Day hike was led by the park manager, Peter Iskenderian, who had buttons made up for us as souvenirs.

About two dozen folks arrived, ready to take a walk on this fine winter’s day.

And walk we did – right out onto the big lake, which had frozen over at last. 

Unlike other years, the ice today was already covered with a sheet of snow.
You could still see cracks that came up through the snow layer.
When the sun came out later on, the lake made whooping noises.

We cronched on the hard snow, passing ice-fishermen and their tip-ups.

Some of the walkers had never been to the park in winter,
and for some, it was their first visit ever.

Peter led us across the big lake, then over toward Mud Pond.
At various spots he stopped to talk about beaver lodges,

invasive plant removal projects, chestnut trees, and the designation of the park as an Important Birding Area (it is favored by wintering bald eagles.)

Alas, we saw no eagles today, but it was a great day for a walk.
The dark clouds of the morning
and those coming in heavy with weather from the west
seemed to part just long enough for our hike. 
There were small spotlights of sun moving across the landscape.

When they passed overhead, there would be a swath of blue sky large enough to make you look up to feel the sun on your cheeks. 

Peter led us all the way around Mud Pond.

Rob and Mary, fellow members of the Friends of Moreau Lake, were bringing up the rear.
I dropped back to walk with them awhile.

Near Dutchmen’s Creek, Mary paused to admire ice nuggets in the tree branches.
The chunks of ice gleamed like little Christmas lights in the sun. I was doubtful it was a vision that a camera could capture.

Some things are meant only for the eyes.
I tried some photos anyway, as we hastened to catch up with the group.
Instead, my camera caught a sunbeam -- and what do you know -- all colors ARE in white.

The group looped back across the frozen lake toward our starting point, 

making one last stop at the Warming Hut, 

where park volunteer Dave was waiting with soothing hot chocolate, sweet snacks, and a cozy fire.

A special thank-you to those of you who spent part of your own day-off to make this a fun experience for all !  It was nice to walk with some old friends, and to make some new ones – a perfect way to start the New Year.


  1. Sounds great. That warming hut would make my day. It reminds me of an outing we do every year up near Algonquin Park later this month. Today it's just too cold to go for a walk, at -29C!

  2. it's a good thing you are the FURRY Gnome then, eh? Now all I need is a conversion chart from Centigrade to Fahrenheit... sounds plenty cold to me!

  3. Glad to learn you started the new year off right, with a walk in our favorite park. Now that my holiday houseguests are gone and my funeral duties accomplished, I am looking forward to a new year of amazing adventures with you, my dear nature companion.