As the creature approached, folks moved to the side of the trail to give him plenty of space. Just the sight of the famous creature, although its existence not proven, caused hikers to chatter up and down the trail. He walked tall and carried a big stick — small log actually that he used as a hiking staff. As the legendary beast walked by me, I gathered the courage to hold my place on the trail. We stared into each other's eyes and we both waited for the other to make the first move. I swung my body around and grabbed Bigfoot by the shoulder and told him to..."Smile!", and my wife snapped the photo seen here with my son and I flanking Sasquatch!
|You never know what you'll encounter on organized group winter hikes.|
Meeting Bigfoot on a popular annual winter hike in southeast Ohio's Hocking Hills was a surprise, but trekking six miles through gorgeous geography with dozens of fellow hikers was also entertaining. Organized hikes are considered by many avid trekkers to be a nuisance to be avoided on the trail. I also prefer to hike with the feeling that I walk alone, but participating in an organized, winter hike is enjoyable and the benefits are many.
Winter hikes provide those who have sworn to abiding to New Year resolutions a pathway to start out on the right foot to achieving his or her goal. Even if more hiking is not your resolution, or improved physical fitness, a winter hike may just be the trick to initiate a path to an improved year.
If Santa Claus was gracious enough to deliver to you a few new pieces of hiking gear, then a winter hike offers you a testing ground for the new stuff (excluding warm weather gear, of course). New boots, trekking poles and daypacks can be tested for needed adjustments or performance before the spring hiking season hits. Winter hikes are also a great event to see new gear in use by other hikers, which may reveal an item or two that will improve your trail time. Santa drop a new camera in your pack? Then break it out on a winter hike to capture a collection of stunning cold-weather images.
Joining an organized, winter hike is simply a great way to shake the winter blues — whether it is you, family or friend that is stricken with the blahs. Invite a friend to join you on a winter hike. Getting out among others enjoying the natural world is nearly always an effective remedy for cabin fever. Even the kids could use a break from the overdose of electronic entertainment that was found gift wrapped under the tree on Christmas morning. Bundle them up and promise them a great time, even if you do have to take one or two snowball hits.
Attending and participating in an organized, winter hike is a win-win for all involved, primarily because of the shared camaraderie. During the hike that my family and I met Bigfoot, at the halfway point, bean soup and cornbread are served for a donation that supports a local charity organization. Typically, over four-thousand hikers participate in that annual winter hike, many of which have done so for decades. Along the trail, laughter, oohs and awes, and dozens of greetings are shared that warm the winter-stressed soul as well as a cozy wood fire warms the body at hike's end.