We had a large mix Monday of returning hike friends and new members, along with regulars for our final hike of 2022. 17 hikers met near the bandshell in Lithia Park for a combo hike including park trails and a climb up the New Wonder Trail. The 9 am start featured ice and frost as the morning theme.
Jerry took a couple of group shots, one with the bandshell in the background and another by the Italian fountain. At the fountain we were surprised by a space alien reclining in the dry bed (see pics)!
Then we took the path to visit the remodeled Japanese Friendship Garden, which was a first time visit for some in the group. The waterfall at the top of the garden was in full Winter display with sheets of icicles on both sides of the cascading water. The water flows down a stream into a pond with coins at the bottom. Perhaps Koi fish will be added to the pond next year.
The Pickle ball courts were empty and heading up the duck pond was frozen (with the ducks taking shelter on their island).
We saw more icicles hanging from branches over Ashland Creek. Yes, the below freezing temperatures had transformed the park into a winter wonderland.
And if we needed anymore convincing we got it when we arrived at the Swimming Reservoir. As we approached, I saw someone in black walking out on the ice! "We aren't the recuse party" I shouted. But then as we came around to the shore, we encountered a bearded gentleman who was quickly disrobing! "Are you with the Polar Bear club" I asked? "Bring your group back January First to see the rest of us" he replied. And with that, he walked out into the middle of the lake to a carved out hole in the ice and jumped in! His shouts could be heard a long ways off.
After that experience, we continued up to the New Wonder Trailhead. As we approached the TH, we got the first glimpse of sun light breaking through the clouds.
The ground on the trail was frozen as we headed up, but as we climbed we felt more welcomed sun. We did a steady climb up until reached the first group of boulders about 2.5 miles up. There we stopped for water and snacks and shared chocolate and cheese.
We decided to head back down at that point as it was past 11 am and we were getting hungry for lunch at Louie's. On the way down we noticed that the sun had melted the trail and now we had to watch out for slippery mud.
On the day. we had done 6+ miles with a gain of 700+ feet.
After holiday hugs and handshakes at parking, nine of us went on to lunch at the Plaza.
Another special day on the trail.
Happy Holidays to All!