January 2003
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Penguin Plunge - January 1, 2003
Activity, report by Jan G.
Photos by Randy and Butch

Jan, Butch, Marilyn, Pam, and Randy

Randy and I had so much fun last year that we decided to jump in the ocean again, but to take our adventure further north! The size of our plucky band more than doubled: plungers were Randy, Pam, Marilyn, Butch, Jan, and a handful of assorted strangers on the beach. Photographers/towel racks were Barbara and Sal. The air was a balmy 39 degrees.

We waited and waited for hordes of Hampton Polar Bears to appear for the noontime jump, but they never showed; it seemed they'd given up on making it an annual event.

We had to provide our own fun and motivation in the form of amusing costumes (Randy) and a spur-of-the-moment GONewEngland cheer (Jan). Here goes...

GONErs, GONErs, lost their minds,
Gonna freeze their wet behinds!

The countdown...

We counted down to noon and raced into the water.

...and there go the penguins!

Crikey, it was COLD! I learned that you can get an ice cream headache from doing this sort of stunt. I also learned that when you come out:

Though not a one will suffer frostbite,
Just try to get your knickers on right! :-)

Coming back out

Before leaving the beach, we had the opportunity to plug GONewEngland when interviewed by a local reporter. Then we headed to Yoken's Restaurant in Portsmouth for seafood and hysterics (the laughing kind). You can (sort of) dress Jan up in dry clothes, but you can't take her anywhere!

We hope to see *lots* more people next year at our 3rd Annual New Year's GONewEngland Plunge! We suspect costumes and/or body paint might be in evidence next year, and Jan promises to wear something interesting and symbolic on her head.

Try it, you'll like it!

Boxford State Forest Snowshoe - January 5, 2003
Activity by Ken L.

Ellen, Martin, Lara, Mandy, Dawn, Joe, Barby, and Your Webmaster

A bunch of us made it over to the Boxford State Forest (Boxford, MA) to enjoy the snow.  Martin chose to head out on his X-C skis, and the rest of us decided to plod on through the deep snow in our snowshoes.

We've been getting a fair bit of snow recently, and it was shocking to see that the Boxford State Forest was largely untouched!  Poor Barby wound up breaking trail a great deal of the way, and she did a great job.  There are no trail markers anywhere, but somehow Barby managed to stay on the almost invisible trails in the more obscure section of the Forest.
You've heard of "blowdowns"?  Our trails were covered with "snowdowns"---those trees that bend over under the weight of the snow.  So not only did Barby break trail, she also had to fight getting over, under, or around all the snowdowns, as did we all!

<-- Joe and Dawn pause for a second while going around a big snowdown

We reached marker #8, and it was at this time we were on our own breaking trail, pretty much all the way to Bald Hill---the long way.
Got Snow?
On the far side of Bald Hill we ran into Martin.  He was having a great time X-C skiing out there (OK, I was jealous), but he warned us about the snowdowns the way he came.  I warned him about the ones we encountered.  Martin decided to trace our route back, and I'm sure he wasn't too happy to find out that our snowdowns were far more numerous than the ones he encountered.  I'm sure X-Cing through that section was a mite tedious...although it's a very pretty section of the woods.
Martin did warn us about the pond, though.  He said that the water was up a bit, but it was passable.

To the left is a wide dirt road, not just a path, and the pond had decided to take a detour over it.  Martin wasn't kidding.

We encountered more water on another section of road a bit later on, but fortunately it was easy to get across because of a bank along one side.  Whew.

<-- This is a road (?)

It was a LONG way around to finally get to our lunch spot at the old cemetery at the base of Bald Hill.  By the time we arrived there, we were quite famished and ready for a sit down.

Unbroken snow surrounded the cemetery.
We were the first visitors since the storm.

We cleared the snow from the stone wall and took a breather...but not too long, as it was getting cold.

The hike gave many of us a good workout, so talk turned to hot tubs, hammocks, naps, a hot cup of coffee, and just getting back to the car!  Still it was a long way out along the Bay Circuit Trail to the Sharpner's Pond Road parking lot where we started.  But we all made it, and all agreed it was a good hike, although I did hear one or two, "That kicked my butt!"s.  :-)