Have you ever had the experience of visiting a familiar place, maybe for the 10th or 100th time, and noticing something you’ve never seen before? For me, if I’m paying attention, I get this experience every time I head out onto the trail. If I’m on my cross country skis, maybe I’ll notice a downhill turn that seems a little tighter than it was on my summer run. When I get out before the sun—that sunrise illuminates familiar trails in a different way and wakening wildlife adds new sounds to familiar sights.
The beautiful thing about our trails is they’re never the same twice. However, certain settings sometimes can help make a trip seem even fresher. Many of my most memorable experiences in the mountains have occurred at two times (that both require a little extra motivation): sunrise & the full moon! I’ll never forget the experience of tackling a 14er on a mid-May full moon snowshoe adventure. Turning off my headlamp at two am and basking in the moonlight expanse of alpine tundra is something that stays with you.
However, you don’t need a 14er in order to experience the majesty of winter trails under a full moon! Even venturing into your backyard can introduce you to how bright snow-lit fields & forests can be. Last month, as a part of a Walking Mountains Program, I had the opportunity to experience our backyard trail here at the Science Center (the Buck Creek trail) in new light. Portions of the trail that I’d simply passed by in the summer stood out as remarkably beautiful—open fields of sagebrush and shrub sparkling under the full moon will do that! Most memorable was hearing the aww and wonder of our group as they experienced this landscape for the first time, and the chatter of excitement as the smell from the campfire waiting for us just up the trail wafted down the hillside. Whatever your preferred mode of winter recreation is—I highly recommend you tie up your boots, wax your skis, or strap on your snowshoes this weekend and experience the full moon for yourself. We would also love to have you join us for our 2nd full moon snowshoe hike at Walking Mountains Science Center this Saturday, February 8th. Visit www.walkinmountains.org/snowshoe for more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.