SPILGER: First Day Hike starts year off right | Local


On the way back, as we were nearing the south end of the bridge, my wife spotted movement up ahead. A whitetail doe was crossing the trail not 50 yards in front of us. Despite the fact that’d we’d been talking and laughing just a few moments earlier, she didn’t seem to hear or notice us.

Then she was gone, across the trail and into the woods before I could get the camera out.

“I bet no one else saw a deer on this hike today,” my wife whispered.

Indeed, wildlife was scarce. No geese honking, no squirrels scampering, just a few rabbit tracks in the snow and a lone hawk overhead. While the rest of the world may have been in turmoil, the new decade had dawned peacefully along the Platte.

Back at the parking lot, we were greeted by volunteers who offered us hot chocolate in to-go cups. We sipped on the cocoa on our way back to Grand Island, our bodies gradually warming, our souls already warm.

Sadly, there won’t be any cocoa awaiting First Day Hikers this year. Volunteers and park staff will not be on-site this year due to the pandemic.

“The current health situation has caused us to adjust our plans this year,” said Bob Hanover, Assistant Parks Division Administrator with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

“First Day Hikes will be a self-guided activity to kick off both the New Year and the 100th anniversary of Nebraska’s state parks. State parks offer a place to engage in healthy outdoor activities, and we encourage everyone to take a First Day Hike.”



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