Hikers start the new year off in the outdoors on ‘First Day Hike’
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Across Wisconsin, hikers took to the outdoors, hitting trails and getting outside to start the 2023 year off with a “First Day Hike.”
“Oh, it’s absolutely the best way to start the year,” said Ice Age Trail volunteer Amy Onofrey.
She and many other volunteers help keep the trails in tip-top condition for hikes year-round, making the first one of the new year possible. New Year’s Day hikes are an annual tradition and happen on various segments of the Ice Age Trail. On the Gibraltar Rock segment of the Ice Age Trail, over 70 people began a fresh year with some fresh air.
“There’s always something out here on the trail that grabs your attention,” said the Lodi Valley Chapter trail coordinator Bill Welch. “We just decided that the best way to start the year off is by hiking with some of our friends and neighbors and other hikers on the first day, and it’s always a time when people are ready to get out; they’ve been inside a lot over the holidays.”
Welch has organized the hike for over a decade and says whatever the weather conditions, it is always a great way to start a new year off. Thanks to hundreds of hours of volunteer work, clearing, maintaining, and improving the trail, the hike and many more can go off without a hitch. And Welch said this trail holds a special spot in his heart.
“This is one of my favorite segments, you know, people ask me, I’ve been on the trail for 20 years, and people ask me, ‘What’s my favorite one?’” said Welch. “And I always tell them the last one I was on, but this one is pretty special; it was one of my first times building a trail; this trail was built in 2005.”
Welch notes the hike is also a great family activity, and each year entire families come out to join in on the hike up to the “Big Bench,” breaking for cookies and hot chocolate before heading back.
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