When I was a kid several decades ago I heard a senseless rhyme that has stuck with me through all the years. It relates to this time of year when we expect certain things to happen at the end of winter/beginning of spring. Please excuse this bit of levity that’s only remotely related to hiking.
“Spring is sprung,
The grass is riz.
I wonder where
The birdies is.”
I say that this is “only remotely related to hiking,” but just this past week an out-of-town hiker brought up that oft-addressed query, “Now that winter is over, where will you begin to hike?”
My stock answer informs the well-meaning interrogator that our local group of hikers is not deterred by winter weather, or any other weather, for that matter. Rich Mumber, a stalwart member of the Asaph Trail Club, regularly organizes throughout the year a local weekly hike of five to 10-or-so miles. Doesn’t matter if it’s February or August.
Another case in point: Asaph Trail Clubber Patricia Boyd, a 60-something grandmother from Westfield, is persisting in her quest to through-hike the 2,900-mile Appalachian Trail this year.
In Georgia on April 2, she continued the admirable pursuit of this worthy ideal on a day when most of us would be content to keep our tootsies comfortable under the blankets or in a warm sleeping bag. She was greeted by a chilly 23 degrees.
One would expect a more pleasant April temperature in the Peach Tree State.
Here’s another first-part-of-spring activity: A few years ago I was introduced through my hiking exploits to the wonderful world of wild leeks. With proper landowner permission, gathering this delicious vegetable is a delightful early spring activity. “Delicious” is a descriptive term that is not universal.
Last week I made my first foray to a section of forest that harbors thousands and thousands of leeks, the location of which will forever remain secret. At this early date the leeks are just barely poking their heads through last fall’s fallen leaves, making them difficult to locate.
The bulbs are still very small but will get larger as the weather warms. However, the size of the bulb does not detract from its pungency. As you gather this member of the onion family, be careful to leave the root, which will grow another bulb next year. It’s possible for an aggressive gatherer to wipe out a leek colony.
A point to be taken is that there are pleasant things to do on your hikes, not just putting one foot in front of the other. So, get out there and take advantage of the change of season.