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First Day Hikes
Fairy Stone hikers part of a national initiative
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Participants in the First Day Hikes at Fairy Stone State Park on Wednesday view the Fairy Stone Lake from a spot on the Whiskey Run Trail across the road. The hike was part of a national initiative to encourage people to get outside and become more fit on New Year’s Day. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Thursday, January 2, 2014

By GINNY WRAY - Bulletin Staff Writer

About three dozen people turned off the bowl games, put down their electronic devices and got out of the kitchen Wednesday to take part in the First Day Hikes at Fairy Stone State Park.

All 36 state parks in Virginia participated in First Day Hikes, which aimed to get people on the trails on the first day of the new year. The initiative is part of a nationwide program of America’s State Parks, according to Pat Eastwood, visitor services specialist with the Virginia State Parks, who took part in Wednesday’s event at Fairy Stone.

The goal of the First Day Hikes is to promote fitness and “start the year off right,” as well as to show that the state parks are open all year, not just in the summer, Eastwood said.

This is the third year the initiative has been held, she said, and several of those who hiked the Whiskey Run Trail at Fairy Stone on Wednesday suggested it become an annual event.

“It’s great all the parks are doing it” on New Year’s Day, said Linda Drage of Martinsville, adding that like watching the Times Square ball fall at the stroke of midnight, the hikes get many people involved in the same activity on the same day nationwide.

Ellen Jesse and her husband, Joe, have hiked by themselves as a New Year’s Day tradition for the past 20 years, she said. But when they read about the First Day Hikes in the Martinsville Bulletin, they decided to join in.

“My wife and I come to all” such hikes in the area, said Joe Jesse, of Martinsville. He said they are avid hikers and cyclists — as evidenced by his wife’s bicycle earrings — who enjoy getting outside for fun and fitness.

Brian and Joan Tucker of Axton took part in the hike with Joan’s mother, Susan Bower of Collinsville. Bower said the hike was part of her New Year’s resolution to walk more and eat better.

Brian Tucker said the family has hiked at Fairy Stone before, but they still learned things during Wednesday’s outing, such as how ore was mined there a century ago. Several abandoned mines closed by gates are visible from the 1.49-mile Whiskey Run Trail.

Susan Wimbish took part in the hike to “stop cooking, eating and doing laundry” at home. She also welcomed the chance to get outside with her three sons — two of whom are in college and one who attends Bassett High School. They all had received electronic gifts for Christmas and took a break from them, Wimbish said, to take the hike under clear skies and temperatures in the high 40s.

The Whiskey Run Trail is off Union Bridge Road across from the Fairy Stone Lake. Several hikers paused at the spot where the trail offers a perfect view of the lake — quiet during the winter — to take photographs.

Fairy Stone Park Ranger Charlene Goad welcomed the hikers and gave them information about moonshining in the area and the state park system.

During a photograph Eastwood took of the entire group, Goad urged everyone to say “moonshine” instead of “cheese.”


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