Never in my life, would I have imagined that I would find myself calling 10,000 acres in New Hampshire “home”. But that’s exactly what Bear Brook State Park has become, my home, at least for a little while. I landed in Manchester’s airport in early January, off of a flight that was many hours late. My first glimpses of NH were at 3 am in the middle of a nasty winter storm. I was coming from Seattle, WA, where I had lived most of my life, to become one of twenty-nine members in the Student Conservation Association’s NH Corps. I’d never seen so much snow and had never been outside when it was below 25 degrees. It only took a moment for me to realize that my jacket wasn’t thick enough. Despite this cold greeting, being in Bear Brook this winter and experiencing how much it changes through the seasons has only made my affection for this place grow stronger.
Winter was long, cold, and beautiful. Bear Brook had cabins and wood stoves to keep me warm. There were also new friends whose smiles could get me through the chills. We had found ourselves in a winter wonderland and everyone was eager to explore. I layered on everything I had and made my way onto the trails best marked by ski and snowmobile tracks plus a few blazes.
As a long winter turned into a brief spring, Bear Brook changed suddenly and entirely. Green, my favorite color, was emerging from every limb and covering the muddy ground. There were snow flees that sounded like rain on the leaves, a chorus of frogs calling into the night, porcupine sightings became more frequent, and four pink lady slippers greeted me as I left my cabin every morning. Frequently trodden trails seemed new in the leaf filtered light and the urge to explore was pulling me outdoors even more, with the mud pulling my shoes deeper into the trails.
Now that it’s summer, I find myself taking the green leaves and dry trails for granted, but there is still newness here. Fireflies light up the road and fields, there is the occasional slap of a beaver tail hitting the still waters of Spruce Pond, snowshoe hares to chase from our garden, dragonflies zooming over head, warm but refreshing waters to cool off in, and an entire campground filled with new people that I get to share this place with.
Despite having spent five months here before knowing I would be Bear Brook’s Discover the Power of Parks Interpretive Ranger, I’ve found that I still have so much of this park to explore. There are trails that I haven’t walked and things that I have yet to see. If you get a chance to join me for a little while this summer, I hope you’ll take time to explore too. 10,000 acres is a lot to take in, but to the observant eye, it feels like every corner of the park has some hidden treasure or a promise it intends to keep.
By: Claire Delbecq, Interpretive Ranger at Bear Brook State Park