Liza Addley traded her kayak paddle for a pair of trekking poles on Jan. 1, returning to a site of summertime fun for a winter hike through Lackawanna State Park.
Liza, 9, and her mom, Susan Addley of Archbald, kayaked on the park’s lake over the summer, but said they enjoy the outdoors year-round. As some were surely recovering from a night of New Year’s Eve revelry, the mother and daughter joined roughly 75 other outdoor aficionados and several dogs for the park’s annual First Day Hike - a roughly 2-mile guided jaunt through the winter woods.
State park systems in all 50 states offer first day hikes, which took place at 39 Pennsylvania state parks Wednesday. Almost 3,000 people and 134 dogs participated in Pennsylvania first day hikes last year, trekking more than 7,755 combined miles.
“One of the ideas behind these first day hikes obviously is to get people out and enjoying the outdoors, and to remember that our state parks are open year- round,” environmental educator Angela Lambert said. “You don’t just have to come when the pool is open, but anytime during the four seasons we have available outdoor recreation.”
That’s exactly what drew the Addleys to the event.
“It gets us outside to stretch out our legs,” Susan Addley said. “We just continue our efforts and this is what we like to do. We like to be outside.”
Some on the hike tackled a photo scavenger hunt, searching for animal tracks, tree rings and other natural objects. Others wanted to start the new year on a healthy note, or to get a jump-start on their New Year’s resolutions.
Township residents and self-described “empty nesters” Malcolm and Ann MacGregor merely hoped to further explore the natural landscape surrounding their home.
“In the past year we’ve enjoyed the park, kayaking ... and hiking and walking around, and we realized we don’t even know where all the trails are,” Malcolm MacGregor said. “We thought, ‘what a great way to start and learn more about what’s available in the park.’ ”
Since the last of their four children left home, the MacGregors have endeavored to spend more time together in nature.
“We live in such a beautiful place,” Malcolm MacGregor said. “Four seasons, it’s gorgeous.”
Before the hike started, Lambert shared with the group a quote by the famed naturalist John Muir, giving hikers old and young something to think about as they embarked on the trail.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than they seek,” said Lambert, quoting Muir.