Hiking at Night at Bear Hole

Family Night Hike at Bear Hole
Saturday, November 2nd in West Springfield

Invite yourself to the opportunity of experiencing a side of the Bear Hole watershed that many do not experience… at night! Bear Hole is much different at night. Many creatures come to life at night and with winter around the corner and mating season for some animals in motion. Hear sounds that you’ll never hear during the day.

Many animals are well-equipped for night hunting and travel; some even prefer it to daytime prowling. Animals of different species have a variety of adaptations that make navigating field and forest simple in the dark – things like echolocation and slit-shaped pupils mean that the setting sun doesn’t dictate the end of an adventure. Humans, on the other hand, have an entirely different experience with darkness. Our eyes, with our rounded pupils, are not designed for excellent night vision, and our other senses are not as sharp as those of other creatures – facts that make explorations in the dark challenging, spooky, and quite different from the sensory experiences that we’re used to.

The West Springfield Environmental Committee is offering families a chance to explore the dark nighttime woods for themselves on a guided hike at Bear Hole! Taking place at 6:45pm on Saturday, November 2nd, the hike will take participants on a shadowy three mile trek through the trails of the city of West Springfield’s heavily wooded municipal watershed on 1700 acres with 20 miles of trails and footpaths. Guided by flashlights and headlamps, families will listen to the noises of night creatures, smell the scents of a sleepy wood, and see a familiar type of landscape in a new light (er, lack of light)…

While it’s unlikely that any night creatures will be seen (they’re more scared of you than you are of them), families are quite likely to hear the calls of coyotes and to see signs of beavers, deer, and other creatures who call Bear Hole their home. Experiencing the outdoors in the dark in a comfortable, structured, and guided setting where safety is ensured is a great way to help kids overcome their fear of the dark while developing a great appreciation of animals that come alive after the sun sets. A positive nighttime outdoor experience can prove that it’s not the night that’s scary, it’s not having all of your senses working properly that’s scary!

If you’d like to participate, contact hike leader Todd Steglinski of the West Springfield Environmental Committee at wsgsd@comcast.net with your name, phone number, and the number of people you’ll be bringing with you. Participants in the hike must be 10 years old or older. Dress warmly, and don’t forget to bring a snack, hydration, and a fully charged headlamp or flashlight. The hike will be canceled in the event of rain.

This event has been approved by the West Springfield DPW, which is the entity that manages the watershed.

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