The 4th Annual New Year’s Day Hike broke records: 47 people walked the trails at the Dill Preserve with January temperatures above 50 degrees! Many attendees had never walked in the park before, and all agreed it is a remarkable place: a sanctuary of nature and quiet nestled right in the center of the Carmel hamlet.
After an introduction by bodger Ralph Szur, who shared tools and toys made from a variety of woods, the group set off with intention to find and learn at least five trees. Black birch, American beech, black oak, shagbark hickory, and tulip trees were seen throughout the forest, with stops to admire an American elm, the wolf white oaks, and the sinewy ironwood trees.
While nature study was the focus, history was clearly evident in the remains of the old fair grounds’ race track and the foundations of a rail bed. Nearby meadows with barns visible through the trees, and the criss-crossing stone walls spoke of a rich farming tradition.
Led by Beth Herr, with Dave Ehnebuske as sweep, hikers traversed the length of the park to where the new bike trail was visible. Two small loops of additional trails were enticing, one leading to a pond, the other to a wetland. But most of the group turned back to complete the circle. Many said they would return to investigate.
It was a lovely hike. Most of the damage from last autumn’s storms had been cleared from the trails, the sun shone brightly on ice-free paths, and hikers enjoyed two hours walking with friends and neighbors. It was a wonderful way to start 2012.