|The sleeping woods, ready to awaken|
I have gotten out recently, though, and have managed to get some fresh air and blue skies. One challenge for spring camping, beyond the unpredictability of the weather, is the spring thaw. When the stone-hard soil thaws, it becomes a mire, the frozen moisture in the soil suddenly transformed to a mix of water and earth--and hiking becomes a muck-slog if you're not careful. Hiking the trails becomes a tentative walking, testing the ground with each footstep for stability. Not only is this a muddy mess, but hiking in these conditions can damage the trail and promote erosion. Some trails are better than others, though, so it is possible to hike in the early thaw, one just has to be careful with trail selection. And it's a joy to hike at this time of year because early spring (and even late winter) promises warmer weather yet lacks ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes . . . and also lacks oppressive humidity. It's a great time to hike; just watch your step. Often I even hike off the trail, picking my way through the brush and using the leaf mulch as a track, the covered forest harder because of the leafy insulation.
|With vest, trekking pole, and binocular in pocket|
|Out trekking with the trekking pole|
|Compact, lightweight binoculars|