All trails at the Crossroads at Big Creek were rolled on Monday morning. The 4 to 5 inches of new snow was very light and powdery. Some grass showing in a few areas but conditions should be fair to good for skate skiing. With the cold weather, we’ll have a good base forming. Not enough snow for setting a track.
The new footpath at Crossroads at Big Creek is not exactly new. Clearly, deer have been using this route through the cedars some time.
When Boy Scout Adam Monfils decided to do his Eagle Scout project at Crossroads, I was pleased that he decided to create a footpath between the two middle bridges across Big Creek . Following a narrow foot path creates a kind of intimacy with the forest, and while Crossroads has lots of trails wide enough for skiing (if we get useful snow), we lacked the single-file trails which are so much fun to explore.
For an Eagle Scout project, the young man does most of the planning, which, in this case, included planning the route. Of course, Crossroads had to approve the route before work started. So on a chilly Saturday morning, while the volunteers from Troop 1140 assembled , I walked the path for the first time. Brilliant. Adam had marked the easiest, most level and truly logical way through the forest. I was quite impressed. Then I noticed something. We were following a deer trail.
Except during rut, when raging hormones override any sense whitetails may have, deer have amazing survival skills. They instinctively select the most nutritious foods during any given season. They can find shelter to ride out a storm. And hey are very good at finding the easiest routes through the forest. Once deer find the best route, it follows it repeatedly, as do other deer. Deer trails are obvious when one know what to look for, and Adam did. So by cutting brush, pruning low hanging branches and removing logs (humans don’t jump quite as well as deer,) the Scouts turned a deer trail into a human trail.
When the colonists arrived in the New England , they used the trails, which evolved into roads, shaped property lines, and eventually became highways. Judging from the tracks on the new foot path at Crossroads, deer are continuing to use it.
During December, we are offering a number of family programs with holiday themes. Saturday, December 7, at 1:00, our “Hike to the Evergreen Forest” will follow the new footpath and focus on the natural history of evergreen trees. Monday, December 9, our history program “The History of Christmas Trees” will discuss holiday traditions and include information about various tree species.