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Hikes part of healthy start to new year
A thin veil of snow shrouded Cheyenne Mountain to the west as a line of hikers walked past dry sagebrush and ponderosa pines tinged with frost.
The temperature barely rose above 20 degrees. Most prairie dogs spurned the thought of poking their heads outside their holes Tuesday morning.
While many people in Colorado Springs stayed inside to recover from a late night of ringing in the new year, a few dozen chose to revel in this landscape.
“Why would you want to sleep in today?” said Marsha Wayman, walking in a bright pink coat.
Nearly 60 people gathered at Cheyenne Mountain State Park on Tuesday as part of First Day Hikes, a nationwide program meant to encourage people to begin the year on a healthy note.
Sixteen hikes were planned in Colorado — a fraction of the more than 650 across the â€¨nation.
At Cheyenne Mountain State Park, each hiker sought something different from the 3.3-mile Sundance Trail loop.
Matthew Kerley trained his eyes downward more often than he looked ahead. Clutching his handheld GPS, he watched as the feet ticked off toward the next cache — a container with a Chinese yuan inside.
As Matthew learned Tuesday morning, the park is a haven for geochaching. He walked slow, steady.
“It’s a great way for me to get outdoors,” he said of his geocaching hobby. “My parents could not get me up a trail. Now I can go on big hikes.”
Others had a more varied pace.
“She has a sprint-walk philosophy,” said Nate Iven, lugging his daughter’s backpack and coat while she bounded up a hill.
Waking up was easy for Iven — he was the designated driver on New Year’s Eve. He brought his 8-year-old daughter, Pira, in search of fresh air and a black-billed magpie, her favorite bird.
It proved elusive. Instead, kneeling down, Iven pointed through a thicket of sagebrush and pines at four deer standing 20 feet from the trail.
“That’s usually what gives it away, the ear twitching,” said Steve Johnson, a park volunteer.
Most people just yearned to stretch their legs on a snow-covered trail, with Western Scrub Jays and bobcat tracks.
And to offset the morning chill in the air, hot chocolate greeted most hikers at the finish.
“Good way to start the new year,” said Patti Weber, a hiker from Colorado Springs.
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