Thursday, February 28, 2008

Snowshoe at Holden Arboretum

The sunrise timetable is finally early enough for me to get outside and put in a decent workout before I need to be at work. And yes, work is as simple as a decent internet connection and a comfy chair. Today, I made it back to my fluffy couch by 8:55 am.

Believe it or not, I live within 15 minutes of our nation's largest Arboretum carving out a whopping 3400 acres in the Kirtland, OH area. It is filled with natural gardens, private fishing ponds, a butterfly garden, wilderness trails, and much, much more. For only $40/year, you can be a member of this fantastic organization. Not to mention, you also get free entrances to the Cleveland Botanical Garden and just about every other Arboretum in this country.

So at 7:02 am, I pulled into an empty lot after typing in my passcode to get through the main gate and checked the temp. Lovely 5F and the sun was on it's way. I donned my snowshoes, gloves, hat and neck gaiter and was off. The first 1/2 mile I had a snowmobile trail to follow, then another .5 mile of single cross country ski tracks and the remaining 4 miles were virgin snow ranging in depths from 10"-16".

The Pierson Creek trail is quoted to be 2 miles long with 2 small stream crossings and 100 steps to enter and exit the gorge area. Today was spectacular. The pines were hanging low with snow cover and most of the water was frozen, so I had no trouble crossing. I did catch the sounds of several woodpeckers and saw a few deer tracks, but other than that the wildlife was quite.

After working up a decent sweat, I climbed out of the gorge and took the Highlights Trail around to the gazebo and overlook. At this point, the sun was shimmering through the tall pines. I even caught another sign of life! Someone was out cross country skiing on the groomed portion of this trail. As soon as I cut back into the woods, I was into fresh snow once again.

Since I am blessed with a wonderful job when I am at home and not traveling, I can take advantage of the early AM adventures. But the downside is that I'm always alone! So, I used my handy tripod and snapped a picture of myself resting in the gazebo. Not my most photogenic moment, but hey....that is what you get in these conditions!

From the Highlights Trail (about another 1.5 miles), I trudged back across the main garden, around a few frozen ponds and bogs back to my car. By this time, it was 8:25 and the employees were rolling in.

I must say it was a beautiful morning and it was awesome to practically have the place to myself! I hope to get out again tomorrow morning and check out Girlded Road Reservation before the snow melts this weekend :)