As I suspected in the fall, Smith Preserve is a beautiful, local winter getaway. The trails are frequented by cross country skiers and hikers alike, and it is a beautifully quiet place to spend an hour or two. I strapped on snowshoes a couple weeks ago during a deep freeze. I found solitude, crisp air, and frozen streams.
This week I took another late afternoon/early evening hike in Smith. As I rounded the bend on a loop I've been taking an owl flew right across the trail, landing in a tree about 50' from the trail and 20' off the ground.
I dropped my poles and headed off into the woods to see if I could get a closer look. Amazing! The owl was both completely aware of my presence the whole time and undisturbed by my effort to get close. I stood under the owl and we stared at each other. I took about a half dozen pictures with my phone, though darkness was beginning to set in and so it was tough to get a nice shot.
Smith Preserve is proving to be a really sweet spot. It's halfway between home and office, and it's position on the commute makes it ideal for a quick trip into the woods.