2011-02-18 / Front Page

Winter walking

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY
BRITTANY DURGIN

Words hang in the freezing February air, early morning sun reaches the treetops making long shadows across the untouched fields of snow on the property of the Doyle Reservation. A group of brave women bundled tight in wool hats and mittens traipse on snowshoes with the only noises being the crunching of snow and laughter between one another.

Three women from different backgrounds, but with a common interest came together five years ago to form monthly hikes free of charge for ladies in Central Massachusetts. Deanne Comeau, volunteer at the Leominster Land Trust; Judith Sumner, Director of Recreation for the city; and hiker Jeannie Vallee now organize hikes in different areas, spanning from Worcester’s Audubon Society trails to Flat Rock in Fitchburg.

Many hikers are returnees who have gotten to know each other through years of monthly guided adventures. The outings being for females only. Two women who have been with the group for several years agree, “it’s nice to hike with [just] the girls.”


Marie Mueller (left) and Dana McFadden get ready for the snowshoe hike recently held at the Doyle Reservation. (bottom) Jeannine Vallee, Dana McFadden and Karen McNall enjoy time together at the snowshoe hike. Marie Mueller (left) and Dana McFadden get ready for the snowshoe hike recently held at the Doyle Reservation. (bottom) Jeannine Vallee, Dana McFadden and Karen McNall enjoy time together at the snowshoe hike. The second Thursday of each month a group averaging twelve women set out in sunglasses and boots for what Comeau sums up as being both a healthy dose of exercise and a nice way to enjoy the fresh air. A leisurely three hour walk includes intermittent breaks for water and a snack accompanied by friendly conversation.

The group inherently being tightknit, held a Christmas get-together after their Barrett Park hike last December. Everyone brought a different food dish to share for the post-hike luncheon.

A snowshoe hike ~ for anyone and everyone ~ will be held from 9 a.m. until noon Thursday, Feb. 24, at Barrett Park (located off Chestnut Street), Leominster. Interested hikers do not have to hike the entire time. Judith Sumner will lead a series of loops to give hikers the opportunity to stop earlier. The hike will also be paced according to the slowest hiker, unless there are others who would like to lead groups. NOTE: Hikers will need to bring their own snowshoes.

If planning on attending this hike, or if interested in future hikes, you are invited to call the Leominster Recreation Department, at (978) 534-7529 or email Judith at jsumner@leominster ma.gov.

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