This winter Tyke Hike was anything but winter-like. With temperatures approaching forty degrees, there was no chance of the wintry walk as advertised in the promotional materials. Still, nearly forty hikers enjoyed a walk through the paved Homestead Hollow path at beautiful Lapham Peak State Park.
We all trekked the trail and discussed the power of glaciers, "found" the future of the forest, and searched for active animals, especially at the peaks of the pine trees. With every hike, we try to provide some off-trail exploration to get the hikers in nature, not just around it.
In our explorations, it was wonderful to see the curiosity and intrigue of the children. From finding frost-covered leaves to investigating under logs, each twist and turn along the trail offers a new learning point and a new way to fall in love with nature.
When we talked about how wood decomposes and helps turn into rich soil, a few children found some fallen, rotting limbs and offered up their karate chop services to hasten the process. When searching through the blanket of leaves, one child found a stick covered with moss and lichens. After peeling off the moss, he politely asked his mother, "Can you please hold my moss?" You knew never know what you will see or hear in the forest.
Keep Hiking Forward!
Fifteen hikers battled the brisk winds on a bright November morning to take to the woods for some outdoor exploration. Focusing on animals and plants and their preparation for winter, we all had a wonderful time finding evidence of our furry and feathery friends throughout the forest.
Stopping regularly to talk about hibernating, migrating and activating animals, we also learned about trees and their sleeping while dormant. But talking doesn't compare at all to exploring. We explored fallen limbs, trunks, and stumps, searching for signs of animal life.
We stopped at a very special tree, one I have called the reading tree as it is a usual resting spot dedicated to reading a picture book connected to the theme of the hike. We enjoyed Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows before continuing along the leaf-covered trail.
As is a tradition of the Tyke Hikes, our turnaround point is usually some tree. The tree I usually stop was about a 15 foot tall, limbless, barkless tree that stood out right against the edge of the tree surrounded by towering lively tree cousins. As we approached, this tree was not what it used to be as Mother Nature and Father Time combined to down it. While it didn't stand out visually like it once had, the fallen tree made a great lesson and search for bugs, chipmunks, and other exciting finds.
We also took a breather on the way back to view a few nurse stumps and a stump we affectionately called Chipmunk Hotel. While we watched, a chipmunk caught our eye and watched us as we watched him. We saw him test out a few leaves, stuff his cheeks with an acorn, and finally choose a leaf that he puled down into his decomposing stump of a den. Of course, when the kids and I moved on for a closer look, we saw that the stump seemed to have a variety of different openings and cavities, so Chipmunk Hotel was born.
Though the weather was a bit of a dip from the unseasonal, but appreciated 70 degrees earlier in the week, this autumn-like weather provided the feel like winter is certainly on the way. So too are the next set of Tyke Hikes!
Keep Hiking Forward!
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