Hiking in the new year

LEHIGH Several inches of snow and temperatures hovering in the 12 degree range greeted a hardy group that started the new year with a walk through some forested slopes at Brushy Creek State Recreation Area Tuesday.

Ten people completed a 1.25 mile hike that began and ended at the park’s South Equestrian Campground.

Deer and other large animals kept out of sight as the group moved along, but the hikers did see some animal tracks in the snow. They also paused for photos near a very large cottonwood tree and saw the remains of an outbuilding that once stood on a homestead before the land was acquired for the park.

Amber O’Neill, the manager of the park, and Erin Ford, a naturalist who works for both Webster County Conservation and the state Department of Natural Resources, guided the group.

The hike was an introduction to the park for Tim and Robin Reece and their 13-year-old daughter, Landra. The family from Boone had driven by the outskirts of the site, but had never been inside it.

”We do a lot of things outdoors,” Tim Reece said.

”There’s lots of things to do inside,” he added. ”This gives you the opportunity to start the year with some outside activity.”

Providing the chance for people to get outdoors was the goal of the hike, according to O’Neill. She said Tuesday’s event was part of a nationwide program called America’s State Parks First Day Hikes.

This was the second year the program was conducted by the state Department of Natural Resources in Webster County. Last year’s hike was conducted at Dolliver Memorial State Park near Otho.