Monday, January 9, 2012

Full Moon Snowshoe Walk

Full Moon Snowshoe Walk
AMC Naturalist - Joe Dodge Lodge, Nicky Pizzo.
Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center
Route 16, Gorham, NH
Location: 44.2885, -71.2258

I originally signed up for this for the month of February but at the last minute, changed my mind and signed up for the walk scheduled for yesterday. I'm glad I did, I really enjoyed the walk and found the games included to be very informative.

The group is limited to a maximum of  10 snowshoe's. And we were to meet up at the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center in Pinkham Notch by 7pm. I got there a bit early and got my credit card receipt and then went downstairs to the first floor where there were benches adjacent to the ski/board/snowshoe rental counter.  Everyone else was putting their snowshoes on and I, besides the Naturalist, were the only ones with backpacks. Even on a short hike I have to make sure I have water! We all gathered in a circle just outside the lodge doors. Nicky started off first introducing herself and then we all took our turns introducing ourselves and stating why were night snowshoeing. Before starting, Nicky asked for a volunteer "sweep".  In the meantime, I had made friends with Debra, a Conservationist with the state of Maine.

The walk was just that, a walk and not a hike. It was just under 1 mile but, as Nicky put it, she had a couple of activities that school-aged children enjoy and was sure that we adults would enjoy it as well.

Nicky used a headlamp with red bulb and it didn't interfere with our vision at all. But soon she turned it off so that we could hike in the moonlight. Unfortunately, the moon was behind clouds most of the walk. But you could still see very well! It was amazing how well and quickly my eyes adjusted to the dark. The trees were a dark gray/black but could easily be seen against the contrasting white snow, even in the dark!

Our walk took us through the pedestrian tunnel under Route 16 and continued along the trails on the west. As we went along Nicky explained the areas we were walking by. She also explained the cones and rods in our eyes for night vision. At one junction, we stopped for our first activity. Nicky passed out blank pieces of cards to everyone. She then passed out crayons to everyone and our instructions were to right down the name of the color of the crayon we thought we had without actually looking at its name on the side of the crayon. Mine looked Red, so I wrote Red. She collected the crayons from everyone and had us tuck our cards into a pocket.

Our second activity was "smell me"! She passed out little scent containers and asked each of us to smell our container, then to find someone else in the group who had the same smelling container. This activity was fun and we each found 2-3 other group members with containers with the same smell....I had coffee! Nicky went onto explain about our sense of smell being heightened when our ability to see lessened.

Afterwards Nicky stopped our group to talk about the Barred Owl. She did call out for one to see if we'd get a response, but no luck. The last activity Nicky had for us to cover one eye and with the uncovered eye, we stared at a lit candle. She then blew out the candle and had us switch eyes and then look around. It was obvious that I could see much better in the dark with the eye that I had covered to begin with. At the end of our walk we stopped in the pedestrian tunnel to look at our cards. I had chose Red and was correct!

This was a really nice walk and I had only wished the moon was out. I also wished I had taken better photos. For me, it was hard to get any night photos without a tripod! 

But what I really enjoyed about this walk, was that it was my very first snowshoe at night and in snow! With my vision reduced, I relied more on my senses of smell and hearing. It was nice, for a change, to stop and just take it all in....enjoying the sensations of nature in a completely different way than I would during a day hike.

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