By: Charles Ferens, 2019 Student Conservation Association New Hampshire AmeriCorps Member
As a member of the SCA New Hampshire Corps we have the great opportunity of living in one of New Hampshire’s largest State Parks: Bear Brook. With this great opportunity comes the ability to explore the park and all of its natural wonders. When I first arrived at the park in January I was overwhelmed with the overall size of the park (over 10,000 acres), but it has only recently struck me how lucky I am to live in such an immense place that never ceases to show me something new. The first week at Bear Brook I took a trip down the Broken Boulder Trail and highlighted it on my personal map. Who knew that a simple act like this could start a feverish, almost addicting need to explore the park and hike every trail. I think I have a case of Bear Brook Trail Fever.
Since January, I’ve added a lot of ink to my printed trail map of Bear Brook State Park! In fact, there are more trails highlighted than not. Is this a problem? Maybe it is if you consider the blisters on my feet or the aches in my legs following our 12-mile adventure to find the Lost Shelter. Nevertheless, who could pass up these beautiful trails?
Even though my feet and legs may say otherwise, my trail addiction has some positive side effects besides the great views. First, I feel much more comfortable with where I live. The sense of knowing how the trail from the park gate to Spruce Pond bends and where the best spot to find high ground gives me a sense of being home. Recognizing the trails, trees, and other natural landscapes lets me know I am where I should be.
The second positive side effect of Bear Brook Trail Fever is having an outlet to use the skills we as SCA NH Corps members develop, like winter tree identification, animal tracking, and historical landscape surveying. Nothing beats being able to look up and down a tree to decipher that it is in fact a black oak, look across a marsh to tell whether beavers are still active, or follow a pair of coyote tracks for a hundred yards to find it was a visiting family-dog. The trails at Bear Brook State Park have given myself and other members the desired outlet for some of these developing outdoor educator skills.
Other side-effects of trying to explore the whole park include finding the hidden gems that Bear Brook has to offer. I’m talking about challenging trails like the Lost Trail and Hall Mountain, the vistas like Catamount Hill, and the hidden gems like the Lost Shelter and the various bear carvings. This is a great list of places to check off your Bear Brook Trail Map, but it is not exhaustive.
Here are some other positive side effects of Bear Brook Trail Fever:
- Spontaneous introspection and self-reflection
- New or enhanced friendships
- A break from stuffy cabin air