2019 is going to be a year filled with adventure and excitement! My resolution is to exercise more. Usually, if I set my mind to something, I stick to it. One of the toughest resolutions I have made in the past was when I was a teenager; I gave up drinking pop for an entire year. I find as I age, my New Year’s goals for myself are not so much about removing a negative, but inserting a positive into my life.

I had intended on attending the New Year’s Night Hike at Pocahontas State Park, but due to the dampness from raining all day and my lack of desire to tromp around in mucky mud, I decided to bring in the New Year wrapped up like a jalapeño in a burrito.

Feeling a wee bit guilty in the morning and afraid I was going to break my promise to myself, I headed to Pocahontas to walk.

At the gate, I was provided with maps and a list of First Day Hike meeting locations. I had no idea First Day Hike existed. Come to find out … to start the year off right, Pocahontas State Park, along with all other state parks across the U.S., host an annual First Day Hike with guided hikes on New Year’s Day.

Looking on the list of hiking options, I had, unfortunately, missed the Bear Hunt. And, if I didn’t hightail it, I was going to miss the New Trail dedication. I arrived seconds after the ribbon cutting had taken place. But, my natural instincts as a reporter kicked in so I whipped out my phone and started snapping and gathering stats and quotes.

Park Manager Joshua Ellington shared, “The hiking-specific ‘Co-op Trail’ runs along the north shore of Swift Creek Lake.” According to Ellington, the new trail was made possible due to the cooperation between grant donations and volunteer labor. Hikers had been requesting a single-use trail and they received their wish.

After getting a photo taken with Park Ranger Red Fox, the Lois Lane in me craved to capture the excitement of the day amongst other park-goers.

I crossed the rusty bridge leading to the boat ramp and was delighted to see kayakers. I approached them and had one of those moments like … I should know her. It hit me and I asked, “Are you Beverly, Madeline Keever’s friend?” She responded, “Yes.”

I was thrilled to meet this amazing woman in person. I introduced myself and told her I just wrote the Alzheimer’s article about her good friend Madeline. She introduced her husband, John White, to me. They were taking turns kayaking on Swift Creek Lake. Beverly shared, “This is a natural way to spend New Year’s Day when it’s 68 degrees outside!”

In addition to hikers and kayakers, I observed: fishermen, joggers, rip-stickers, bikers, campers, birdwatchers and many children climbing, running, jumping and laughing on the various playgrounds.

Due to the spring-like weather on the first day of January, an estimated 6,000 citizens enthusiastically made their way to Pocahontas, according to the park manager, Joshua Ellington. He said, “When we have scheduled events, we have around 600 show up. The good weather blessed us with a very well attended First Day Hike.”

Dashing here-and-there taking photos served as my exercise on day one of 2019. I have full faith I will continue to fulfill my promise, but should I slip up and fall out of the wagon … I will hop right back in.

Kristi K. Higgins, also known as "The Social Butterfly", recently joined the Progress-Index newsroom staff. Kristi, who writes about her experiences at various community events, will be contributing her insights and perspective, as well as sharing stories of human interest, for Progress-Index customers. She can be reached at khiggins@progress-index.com or 804-722-5162.