While many may have woken up to 2018 guzzling copious amounts of Gatorade and Advil as they nursed hangovers from the safety of their covers, some entered the new year on a more chipper foot, Monday, breathing fresh lake air on a 2 mile hike at Lake Murray State Park as part of First Day Hikes.
First Day Hikes is a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to embrace the natural resources and beauty of their local state parks.
And though the temperatures dipped to a crisp 14 degrees Monday morning, a handful of Ardmore residents braved the wilderness and winter weather on a 2-mile guided tour around Lake Murray.
“It’s very refreshing,” Ardmore resident Jane Lowrey said. “Looking at the water, it’s so clear and hiking back through all the rocky trails. It was beautiful to get out in nature and see the snow. I grew up in the north so it’s nice to have a little snow on the ground and if you’re bundled up like me, it’s not bad at all.”
Lake Murray State Park Naturalist Bonnie Farris led the 2-mile excursion on New Year’s Day.
Farris, who’s in her fourth year of leading the hikes, said First Day Hikes is a great opportunity to get people active and showcase the natural beauty surrounding Lake Murray.
“It’s a chance to start off the year on a high note,” Farris said. “Start off the year outdoors and do something active. It’s just about getting out and doing something and not spending all day indoors.”
Farris said hiking the trails around Lake Murray at this time of year is unique.
Without leaves on the trees, there’s more opportunities to see wildlife like eagles.
“You can see a lot this time of year,” Farris said. “The visibility is higher and you get different wildlife than during the summer, so there’s a possibility to see an eagle or a loon. Plus there’s not a lot of people on the water, so it’s tranquil and quiet. It’s just you and nature when you’re out here.”
Another benefit to hiking during the winter was the lack of heat and common pests that seem to come up during the summer, Lowrey said.
“It’s nice this time of year because you don’t have snakes, ticks or mosquitoes,” Lowrey said. “And with most of the leaves gone, you can really see all the geological formations and the lichens and moss — all these things that just aren’t visible other times of the year.”
It was Lowrey’s first year to participate in First Day Hikes at Lake Murray State Park, but she said it won’t be her last.
“This is a great way to start the year,” Lowrey said.
For more information on visiting Lake Murray State Park check out www.lake-murray.org/state-park or call (580) 223-4044.