It was 24 degrees when I left the house early Saturday morning and it was 21 degrees when I arrived at Sgt. Mark A. Rademacher Memorial Park aka Hunter’s Creek Park. Hunter’s Creek Park was a favorite place of Mark Rademacher. Sgt. Rademacher, a Wales, NY resident, died in the Grenada Invasion in 1983 at the age of 20. I didn’t know the man, but I’m glad he was recognized in this way. There is a trail blazed with a Chevron that is named after him, too.
I had hiked this park five months ago with my nephew, Matthew. It was summer then. A sunny, warm day. Today was sunny, but the temperature was anything but warm. I hadn’t worn my boots in the snow for an extended period of time and I hadn’t had a chance yet to try out my new spikes. I bought a new puffy coat, too. I wasn’t convinced this lightweight, thin puffy would keep me warm on such a cold day. Today was the day of testing! Testing my boots, testing my spikes, testing my new puffy and testing my stamina on a long hike in the cold.
My best friend, Linda hiked with me again today. She’s been a big supporter of my crazy idea to hike the Appalachian Trail and always encourages me to get outside and practice.
Of course, since I was hiking with Linda, there was some geocaching to be done! We found a total of four caches in the park that was filled with approximately 50! We had to give up on a few we were looking for due to the snow covering EVERYTHING! The few that we found were fun.
Hunter’s Creek land formerly belonged to the Kellogg family. There are ruins of their cabin that I had not seen on earlier hikes. I was excited to finally see what was left. A stone chimney and the foundation. Not much!
On the previous hike through here with Matthew there was neat little bridge we bounced across. This bridge was now covered in ice and snow. Linda walked across it very slowly and I waited until she was completely off the bridge before starting over. The little bridge creaked and it lacked the fun bounce it had in the summer. My boots hit the bridge and my micro spikes gave me great traction. I never worried once about slipping. The difference in wearing the spikes was incredible. I won’t be caught on a winter hike without them from now on!
Hunter’s Creek offers a number of trails to hike. They often intersect and sometimes, merge for a distance. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could get very confused and become turned around. This would never happen to us. HA! I said that as long as we see a blaze, we know we are in the park and we are not lost. HA! HA! HA! We followed a red trail, a pink trail, a double pink trail, a blue trail, a chevron trail, a green trail with one dot, and a green trail with three dots. There may have been others. Apparently the number of dots and whether the color is a circle or a rectangle mean different things. APPARENTLY, I need to brush up on my map reading skills!
We came to an intersection of trails and decided to follow the pink trail heading towards where we came in the park off the parking lot. I almost had to (gulp) get out my compass. Alas, Linda used her phone and pulled up the geocache we had found earlier that was just off the parking lot and we followed the directions back to it. See, geocaching while hiking is helpful!
So, my day of testing went well! I tested my boots – Keen Durand Mid WP. My feet were warm, dry and felt great all day. We probably hiked well over 5 miles. Next time I will remember to set my phone app to measure my distance. My micro spikes worked amazingly well. Easy to slip on over snow covered boots, stayed in place while hiking, and easy to peel off at the end of the day. My new puffy coat passed the test. I bought the puffy for $49.00 at Macy’s, that’s right, $49.00! It has a down fill of 650, kept me toasty warm and I loved that I wasn’t wearing a bulky coat. I was able to maneuver and my pack fit great over it. The workmanship quality of this coat lacks a little. The pockets don’t zipper and the hood had no string or cord to keep it in place. I might want a higher down fill and better quality for the AT. But, what a bargain! As for my stamina on the hike; we hiked for about 4 hours. I felt great the next day with no soreness; only a thirst for more!
And, I didn’t know it, but I was testing my sense of direction. It sucks, I failed. I will have to practice that and try to find a class on map and compass reading.