Ani and Bill Grosser, of Lenox, hike during the First Day Hike program at the base of Mount Greylock.
Ani and Bill Grosser, of Lenox, hike during the First Day Hike program at the base of Mount Greylock. (Holly Pelczynski / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

LANESBOROUGH

As a 30th wedding anniversary present, Linda Faldetta and Tom Lepisto decided to hike the base of Mount Greylock Reservation on New Year's Day.

The winter enthusiasts, married Dec. 31, 1983, were among the dozens of hearty souls taking part in annual First Day Hike on Wednesday afternoon, sponsored by the state park system.

While avid cross-country skiers, the Medford couple found winter hiking more challenging as they traversed the 1.8-mile Bradley Farm Trail to and from the reservation's visitor center.

"It was harder because you had to wear more layers of clothes and go faster," noted Faldetta.

In all, 62 men, women and children navigated the tricky, frozen terrain, covered with about an inch of new-fallen snow. With temperatures in the low 20s and little wind, the conditions were ideal for winter hiking, according to Becky Barnes, one of the interpretive guides who led the nearly 90-minute hike.

"It was perfect once you got started; keep a steady pace and you'll keep warm," she said.

Mount Greylock Reservation, along with Beartown State Forest in Monterey, were among the 11 state parks participating in the First Day Hikes, courtesy of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Beartown park officials reported 26 people showed up to hike the Benedict Pond Loop Trail.

The tradition began more than 20 years ago in Massachusetts, evolving into a national event with all 50 states hosting the New Year's activity since 2012, according to state park director, Priscilla Geigis. She noted that more than 740 hikes were scheduled across the country to celebrate the arrival of 2014.

Before accompanying the hikers, Geigis cited how the First Day Hikes -- free of charge -- are a great way to promote outdoor winter recreation.

"I can't think of a better way to get the hearts pumping on the first day of the year," she said.

Joan Messina, of Dalton, would agree. She was taking part in her third New Year's Day hike at the reservation.

"I don't mind as long as it's above 20 degrees -- we just made it," she said.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233