Happy Trails

Jenny & The Rock in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Trail guide Jenny stands near a glacial rock (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Upon meeting Jenny Benner, the first thing you’ll notice is her face, as it absolutely glows with enthusiasm. Among her many talents, Jenny is an author, speaker and photographer (see the book she wrote with Stephanie Cohen, The Nonstop Garden), but first and foremost she is a wife and mother, which has only served to heighten her loving, protective attitude for all things pertaining to the environment as well. Like the most diligent watch dog, she sinks her teeth into a mission and doesn’t let go. It was this passion and sincerity that led her to become involved with the non-profit Connecticut Forest & Park Association (www.ctwoodlands.org) in 2008, and not surprisingly she’s still going strong with the organization.

A Curious rock along the Housatonic Range Trail in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

A curious rock along the Housatonic Range Trail (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Established in 1895 to protect Connecticut’s forests from runaway fires and excessive timber harvesting, Connecticut Forest & Park Association’s perseverance has helped protect numerous state parks and open land throughout the state, such as Mohawk State Forest, Rocky Neck and Sherwood Island. When CFPA began its work, Connecticut was only 20% forested, yet presently that figure ranges closer to 60%. Not only has the CFPA been instrumental in aiding in the acquisition of many state parks and forests, but it continues to advocate for the funding and resources needed to maintain and protect many of Connecticut’s public recreational facilities. With core values to “conserve, connect, advocate and educate,” CFPA has not wavered from its mission over the last century.

Trail clearly marked with blue blaze in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Trail clearly marked with blue blaze                                     (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

While focusing on sound forest management practices and protection of land, water and wildlife resources, CFPA also realized there was a need for a trail system that would allow the public access to the beautiful landscape found throughout Connecticut. In 1929, CFPA’s visionary leaders established the Blue Blazed Hiking Trail System, creating approximately 825 miles of trails across 88 towns, now enjoyed by thousands of people every year. In keeping with their dedication of raising public awareness to the health benefits of walking, CFPA introduced the WalkCT program (www.walkct.org) in 2007, with the vision of having a state where no resident is more than 15 minutes from a great outing. WalkCT provides an online listing of trails and offers free, monthly events as a way to introduce families to fun ways of spending quality time outdoors.

Strategic cut in a log across the footpath in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Strategic cut in a log across the footpath (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Today I was fortunate to have the trail savvy Jenny personally guide me on one of CFPA’s nearby footpaths, allowing me to enjoy the fruits of CFPA’s labor as we hiked along the well-tended Housatonic Range Trail in New Milford. And that’s another important role that CFPA’s staff and wonderful volunteers perform; with the utmost care and respect for the land, many dedicated people maintain the hundreds of miles of trails annually. Maintenance includes anything from moving rocks and trees to make a route more maneuverable, pruning back foliage, picking up brush or painting the trademark blue, dollar bill sized stripes (called blazes) that clearly mark each trail. As we strolled along, I was very grateful for the dedicated efforts that allowed me to enjoy the majestic surroundings without worrying about tripping over a fallen limb.

Inside a rock tunnel in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Inside a rock tunnel on the HR Trail (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Like many of the locations maintained by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, the Housatonic Range Trail offers a breathtaking landscape embroidered with a series of tranquil, secluded spots for reflecting, and the surround-sound musical effects of birdsong, whispering wind and flowing water. There were challenging areas where a little rock climbing skill was required (or you could detour around), gradual inclines to get your heart rate up, grassy sections flanked by fallen trees cloaked in moss, and places where the canopy was so dense you were completely protected from the harshest thunderstorm Mother Nature could dish out. While we enjoyed a quiet moment in our natural neighborhood, Jenny mentioned that one of the most important things she learned when walking through the forest was to “Remember to stop, pause and look up.” In a world where we often walk briskly, forgetting to take a moment to appreciate the beauty that is all around us, these are words to live by indeed.

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Comments

  1. oh, what a beautiful post. And the last couple of sentences are such a great reminder! Thank you Kathy.

    • Thank you, Dina, for following my blog and for your wonderful comments. Hearing from my readers always inspires me~

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