Even though this winter has been unusual for Arkansas, springtime is coming and if you’re anything like me, you are ready for some serious outdoor time. I was just noticing this week at the State Park that I work for that the Redbuds and Dogwood trees have come into full bloom. Daffodils, Wild Plum trees and the cascading Wisteria are also some good signs that despite Old Man Winter’s best efforts, prettier days are going to happen very soon. We have had a few already and hopefully you have taken the time to get outside and stretch those legs but if not, I have a suggestion that you may find appealing: Go for a hike. It’s a healthy and relaxing way to spend part of your day.
State and city parks alike have some excellent trails to take advantage of on a warm day, but please take note that during this rainy season, the trails can become muddier and slicker than usual and new obstacles like tree limbs downed by heavy rain and high winds can end up in your path. Before going out take into consideration the recent weather and come prepared with adequate footwear and clothing. You can stop in at a park office, if one is available, and ask for a trail map and advice about which trails would be the best to traverse. These maps can be informative about the length and difficulty and also, if you happen across an obstruction too large or dangerous to get around or move out of the way, you can mark it on the map and turn it back into the park as a frame of reference for the appropriate personnel.
Another thing to be aware of during this time is the pollen. If you have allergies you will know this already but maybe a simple dose of medication and some tissues will allow you to enjoy this beautiful time of the year when nature is coming out of her dormancy. Energy bars and water bottles can be a boon for the longer trails. Just remember to bring something to carry out your trash, like a small plastic bag in which you can discard any of your unwanted items , and if so inclined, any extraneous litter someone not as considerate as you may have left behind. One other dark cloud on your day might be the insect and animal populations. After all, you are not the only one who is ready for some nature time and creatures both beautiful and some less so are moving around now as well. You may encounter such diversity as ticks, wasps, or snakes that can pose a threat to hikers, or you might get a chance to thrill over squirrels, butterflies, birds, and deer. Insect repellant, cameras, and small first aid kits can make great companions if you are heading out for a morning hike alone or taking the family along for a leisurely stroll in the afternoon. The bulk of the winter weather is over for many of us and spring is here even if there are still a few days that don’t seem that way, so get out there and soak it up!