Tuesday, January 3, 2017

First Day Hike or Ski: Eveline State Recreation Area (Homer, Alaska)

Starting the New Year at the beginning of the week felt especially exciting, and I've felt something awaking inside that motivates and inspires me to chase after my goals and dreams with a renewed vigor. We spent New Years Day doing some of the things we love best; attending a great church service, getting out to enjoy this beautiful place we live in with friends, and eating a great meal with family.

After church we packed a lunch, grabbed our gear and headed to Eveline State Recreation Site to take part in the fourth annual First Day Hike/Ski/Snowshoe event being held there. About 13.8 miles out East End Road, Eveline boasts 80 acres of beautiful views and great snow conditions even when its just puddles and ice in downtown Homer. There's a designated parking lot and an outhouse, plus a picnic table just off the trailhead. I hadn't actually ever skied on these trails and I'm just blown away with how beautiful the landscape and views are from nearly every trail. The trails are well marked with maps posted at various points and connect to the  greater McNeil trail system.

I had never heard of First Day Hikes before hearing about this event on our local public radio, KBBI, and through the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club. From the American Hiking Society Website:
First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors.  On New Year’s Day, hundreds of free, guided hikes will be organized in all 50 states.  Kids and adults all across America will be participating in First Day Hikes, getting their hearts pumping and enjoying the beauty of a state park.  Last year nearly 28,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 66,000 miles throughout the country!
First Day Hikes are led by knowledgeable state park staff and volunteers.  The distance and rigor vary from park to park, but all hikes aim to create a fun experience for the whole family.  People are invited to savor the beauty of the state park’s natural resources with the comfort of an experienced guide so they may be inspired to take advantage of these local treasures throughout the year.
I love the idea of starting the New Year off taking part in something that shows your commitment to getting outside regularly as well as supports the efforts of your community in encouraging others to do the same and supports State Parks at the same time. A total win-win in my opinion! And while I realize that the next chance to participate again is a year away, if you're interested in finding out more about First Day Hikes in your area, visit the American Hiking Society website, here

We had a great time getting the kids on skis in a group environment where they could see people of all ages skiing and snowshoeing as a community. There was also hot dogs, treats from Two Sisters, hot cocoa, and a warming fire. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, with bluebird skies and warm sunshine (but not too warm to cause trail conditions to deteriorate). 

We went back to the trails Monday to enjoy a sunset ski with the kids in the Chariot for most of the time we were there. The Eveline trails are also dog-friendly (always check before you bring your furry friends to groomed ski trails with you!) so Tutka got a good run in as well. If you're local to Homer or visiting from the surrounding communities, I highly recommend a ski, snowshoe, or hike at the Eveline State Recreation Site.

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