Dan and Hannah Pandemic Hike with Owen and Max at Weir Hill, Massachusetts

First off, New England has some unusual pronunciations.  Check these out! Weir of Weir Hill is pronounced Wire??  How about these towns in Massachusetts? Leominster is Lemon-ster, Haverhill is Hayve-rill, and Gloucester is Glaw-ster! 

Owen, Max, and their Omi, parents in the background

With the pandemic winter here in New England, Hannah and I fortunately are still able to winter hike with our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6) and their parents on a regular basis. 

Listen to this line-up of trails that we have hiked since the cold and dark of 2020 came to stay: the Ring Trail at Mount Agamenticus in York, the Little Harbor Trail in Portsmouth, and through Steedman Woods to the Atlantic Ocean in York Harbor.  Our daughter Molly has found us a sweet #4.

Driving 50 miles south from our home on the last day of 2020, we arrive ready to hike the trails of the Weir Hill Reservation, a 194-acre public park located in North Andover, Massachusetts.   Though two weeks ago a foot of snow covered these trails, this New Year’s Eve Day we find that all the snow has melted.    

We hiked the yellow trail that circles the property

The trail begins with no lack of enthusiasm

Fully masked, we opt the 2.3 mile Weir Hill Trail loop with just 130’ of elevation that circumnavigates the property.  Max matches up with his Omi, telling his parents to go ahead because he and Omi have some trash-talking to do.  Trash-talking for this six year old means talking about his strategy for Sushi Go Party, a game that they received for Christmas.

Max with his Omi and Poppa

Molly and Tip

By the way, a fish weir is a submerged woven fence with stakes to catch alewives, a type of herring.  Hiking with a first and second grader is not linear; it means stopping and starting; we see them jump on to the larger trailside rocks and balance on the logs along the path.  Other times, Max reaches for my hand and Owen for his Omi. 

Arriving along the trail to the Lake Cochichewick, Owen climbs up on a bending trunk and finds a place for his brother. 

Later, Owen and Max scamper out a horizontal tree just above the icy water.  For many reasons, it’s great to hike with Molly’s whole family; among the reasons are that Hannah and I are not responsible for the boys’ safety.  That’s what they have parents for.

Molly and Hannah on the home stretch

Heading back to the trailhead with Molly, I ask her what she thinks lies ahead with the roll out of the Covid vaccines.  Will she feel comfortable resuming normal life once she gets the vaccine?  She just doesn’t know. As a public school teacher, Molly will soon get the vaccine.  What if 80% of the population has received the vaccine, what will she have her family resume doing?  She and I have no answers about what we will do. Stay tuned.

Even though we are 70+, I’d be surprised if Hannah and I get vaccines before spring.  I take on a mindset – expect the good.   There is a part two when needed.  If the not so good happens, find the good.  Worrying ahead of time is just self-induced suffering.

With lots of families on the trail this festive New Year’s Eve afternoon, the Weir Hill trails deliver for us all.