Conservation Journal: Sydney

The Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) is an AmeriCorps service program that develops skills and experiences for conservation professionals. LRCC members are the driving force behind the Squam Lakes Association’s conservation efforts. The program provides hands-on conservation work experience and numerous certifications over a broad range of areas, which ensures that LRCC members are capable of independently approaching a variety of tasks in the environmental conservation field. Members remove invasive species from the Squam watershed, manage and act as caretakers at our backcountry campsites, maintain the SLA’s 50+ miles of trails, educate the public on local and regional conservation initiatives, spearhead reports on conservation efforts, lead SLA volunteer crews and ensure the daily functioning of the Squam Lakes Association’s programs. Click here to learn more about the LRCC program.

December 21, 2018

Sydney Kahl

Even though winter technically doesn’t begin until December 21st, winter has definitely arrived in the mountains. I grew up in the area, yet winter often seems to catch me by surprise, especially this year with the early snowfall and below freezing temperatures. It takes a little getting used to the cold every year, and making sure I have proper layering for being outside all day. I remind myself not to forget toe warmers, or that I should put my water bottle upside-down in my backpack so the lid doesn’t freeze shut. I forget that I can’t move quite as fast when trudging through freshly fallen fluff, compared to bare rocky trails. But, soon, I remember the many added advantages, and fun challenges while hiking in the winter. For example, when I run down a trail it turns to sliding or “controlled falling”, which is how the other AmeriCorps members and I have started referring to hiking in the deep snow during our trail work days. We slide, laugh, and slowly fall into the fresh powder after a slightly ambitious step, or even jump. We know we might not land on two feet, but it doesn’t matter because a soft blanket of snow will catch us. Some snow sometimes still manages to get between what I thought was a perfected layering technique and touch my skin. It somehow can be oddly refreshing, slightly painful, and funny all at the same time, especially for those observing, so it’s worth it anyways. After many days of winter trail work, and lopping tree limbs that immediately cover us in the snow that was once perfectly balanced on their branches, we are all used to unexpectedly being covered in snow.

One of the best things about winter hiking is that many people don’t know these exciting secrets that I’ve just shared, so they don’t even head out for a hike. This means we often have the winter trails to ourselves, which in the warmer months may be crowded. Often, our only companions on the trial are the animals that haven’t migrated or hibernated for the winter. At least we can tell they’ve been on the trails from their tracks. It’s always fun trying to identify the animal, from moose and deer to squirrels, birds, and rabbits. They also often follow the trails that have yet to be broken, as if they are looking for a nice summit view of Squam Lake as well.

For some of my fellow AmeriCorps members who have never experienced winter hiking, or even snow, until arriving in New Hampshire for the first time to join the Lakes Region Core, they are discovering these wonders of winter trails for the first time. Their newly found excitement for winter gives me a fresh perspective and appreciation for the place I grew up.

Syd graduated from St. Lawrence University in May 2018 with an Environmental Studies degree.  You can read more about her in her bio.

Join our LRCC members for weekly guided hikes, volunteer opportunities, and environmental programs. Learn more by clicking here.