Friday night we went to bed with the weatherman assuring us that a storm would be starting at daybreak on Saturday morning. And, just as forecast, we awoke to light snow covering the crusty two inch layer of former snow on our deck. The highlight of the day was the wedding of a colleague of ours, but that was scheduled to begin at 5pm which allowed for plenty of time to enjoy the snow.
After a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and potatoes, we set off for the preserve. We noticed our neighbor, Dan, on the way out of Shades Glen and asked if he would like to join us. We were delighted when he agreed to come along. As the new couple in the neighborhood, we are anxious to get to know those around us better, and, he happened to be wearing orange coveralls.. not a bad idea when hiking in the woods on the last day of deer season in PA!
The preserve is a pretty big piece of property.. close to 3000 acres in all. We picked up the red trail off of 115 and followed it to the first green cut off.. followed that to the yellow trail which brought us back to the maintenance building and parking lot. We saw one hunter along the way out. We could hear Shades Creek running below us for the first part of the trek, but then just the sound of snow falling softly surrounded us. Dan is a hunter, and we picked his brain about hunting, deer habitat, and deer behavior as we hiked. He pointed out deer rubbings on the trees and related stories about hunting with his family throughout his life.
As we neared the end of our hour and a half hike, we encountered two hunters coming out of the woods. They were disappointed not to have gotten a shot off and lamented the lack of deer relative to years gone by, but they appreciated being in the woods just the same. With the number of dead deer along Pennsylvania’s roads, it is difficult to imagine that there were even more 15 or so years ago, but that seems to be a common story!
we paused to enjoy a snack and the view at a popular overlook along the trail. As we passed Dan’s house on the way back to our house, he invited us in for tea. We capped off the hike with tea and conversation with Dan and his wife Sheri while listening to Christmas music from an old LP produced by W T Grant’s Department Store a generation or, more likely, two ago ( they went out of business in the mid 1970’s)! Some of the best experiences in life are those that are unplanned!
Of course, the wedding, which had been in the planning stages for quite a while, was beautiful. The snow added to the scene as we entered the church, decorated for Christmas, and celebrated the union of our colleague, Brian and his wife Jennifer. It also made for a long ride home! But a cup of hot chocolate by the stove was just the thing to complete a wonderful day.