Dozens of hikers braved the cold to walk the Green Recreation Trail on the First Day Hike on New Year's Day, an event of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
More than 50 hardy souls wrapped up warm, fortified themselves with hot chocolate then took part in a New Years Day at the Green Recreation Trail in Pratt.
The event was part of the state wide Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism “First Day Hike” that took place in state parks all over Kansas, said Linda Lanterman, Di- vision Director for KDWPT and President of the National Association of State Park Directors.
Lanterman said about 55 had signed up when the hike started at 1 p.m. but she anticipated about 80 would eventually participate in the hike. This is the fifth year Pratt has participated in the event.
The temperature was cold but it didn’t deter hikers of all ages from making the one mile trek. Parents, grandparents, grandchildren and even a few dogs got out and took a hike. With families visiting for Christmas and New Years Day, the hike is an opportunity to enjoy an activity everyone can participate in and get out of the house for some exercise.
“It gets kids off the couch and outdoors,” Lanterman said.
Hikers don’t let the temperature prevent them from participating. The temperature Tuesday was around 20 degrees but everyone bundled up warm for the hike.
Last year’s hike was cancelled because of high winds and bitter cold but a few hardy souls, including Kathie and Brandon Case, went ahead and took the hike anyway. Brandon said taking the hike got the year started right. Both are bicycle enthusiasts but were taking the hike because riding a bike was too cold in those temperatures. But they were thinking about taking a ride later anyway.
Kathie said she enjoyed the hike because she got to see the beauty of the earth.
Lucas Alberg and his young son Loren took on the walk and enjoyed their time together. Lucas said they love the outdoors and love being out in nature.
Keith Sexson, recently retired from KDWPT as secretary of operations, said it was a good way to get the grandkids out of the house. His grandson Jaceyon Toombs enjoyed seeing the ice along the trail.
For 8-year-old Clara Jackson, it was a fun thing to do and it gave the family dog Maizy some exercise, too. Clara and her family dad Kyle, mom Amy and siblings June and Ryder all enjoyed their hike on the trail.
Some parts of the Green Recreation Trail were off limits to walkers because of dangerous conditions left over from the 2018 Labor Day flood that did extensive damage to the trail. There are hanging branches that could fall and cause injury plus others that are blocking portions of the trail so those areas are still closed, Lanterman said.
“There’s a lot of damage down here. We don’t want people to get hurt,” Lanterman said. “Trails were washed out and all the wood chips are gone.”
Lanterman said she has a contractor lined up to clear the trails and she wants the trails back in shape as soon as possible when it warms up in spring.
First Day Hike started in 2012 in Massachusetts and is now a nation wide event in state parks across America. In Kansas, 20 state parks hosted first day hike events. For the first time, Canada is also participating in the event, Lanterman said.
The event is designed to encourage people to exercise for health especially during the holiday season. It also introduces people to the state parks and what they have to offer. Many of the people who take part in the hike return to the state parks for another visit, Lanterman said.
Green Trails remain closed to the public.