Bitter cold on the slopes

Rick Brockway

Another year has passed; 2022 is less than a week away. We’ve struggled through masks, Zoom meetings, home schooling, and everything else brought about by COVID. But now is the time to get on with life.

Let’s kick off this year with a bang, and I’m not talking about a wild party — though that’s not a bad idea. This coming Saturday on New Year’s Day, get the kids up and dressed for an outdoor hike in beautiful Otsego County. There are three First Day Hikes scheduled right here in the area. All of these hikes count towards completing the Otsego Outdoors Winter Octet.

Gilbert Lake’s 1.3 mile trail around the lake has always been a favorite. It’s an easy hike through the woods starting at the lower parking lot that runs from 9 a.m. until noon. After completing the loop you can warm up in front of the fire at the Briggs Pavilion. It’s a free event, but they are asking (not required), for a non-perishable food item that will be donated to the local food pantry.

If you are interested in a longer, more adventurous hike, join NYS Forest Ranger Erin Petit for a guided hike through the Texas School House State Forest in New Lisbon. The hike begins at the parking area on Jones Road. (Use Google Maps to find the location.) It is free, but pre-registration is necessary. Please call Ranger Petit at (315) 778-4107 to register. Bring water and a snack for this hike. The hike runs from 9-10:30 a.m.

The third First Day Hike in the county is at Glimmerglass State Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is a self-guided hike through the woods and along the shore of Otsego Lake starting at the parking lot. There is a Porta Jon at the Beaver Dam. There is no minimum age and leashed pets are welcome. The first 100 hikers will receive a First Day Hike Giveaway. Again, a non-perishable food item is requested, but not required.

I feel that events like these are a great for the family. Kids are out of school and need to experience the great outdoors. I recall that commercial I hear on the radio every now and then where a slug talks to a young boy saying, “the forest misses you.”

Let’s face it: if parents aren’t into outdoor activities, the kids probably aren’t either. Opportunities like these short hikes can be an awakening for our children. Our kids and grandkids spend way too much time on their computers and phones, playing games. They need exposure to nature.

We constantly hear of global warming and climate change, but they never see what’s out there.

These three hikes and other great adventures are sponsored by Otsego Outdoors. To complete the Winter Octet you must complete eight short hikes or activities on the 13 featured trails. Go to the Otsego Outdoors website for a printable registration form and finish by March 19. By completing this winter challenge, you receive a patch that you can proudly wear. Even your dog (K-9 division) can compete in this event.

There are several octets each year. Last year over 2,000 people hiked, paddled and biked through Otsego County. Are you going to add your name to the list this year?

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