Cold and Quiet on Butler Reservoir

I was surprised to find ice across nearly the whole surface of Butler Reservoir, thick enough to bear the weight of a big osprey, surprised how much colder it was just half an hour’s drive from the time and temperature sign outside my office window in Newark.

The trail started out pretty muddy and not especially impressive, aside from that nifty little bridge over the inlet. It was nice, reminded me of walking out in the woods behind the house growing up, and great to stretch my legs with hardly a person in sight. We got into some good conversation, and the ups and downs weren’t too rigorous for my pandemic bod….

But as we approached the far side of the reservoir, with the angle of the sun, the ice skimming the lake, the lacey clouds … the beauty of the trail really emerged.

They say you shouldn’t photograph into the light, but when it works out, it’s a stunning effect.

At the far end of the reservoir, the official trail heads up to the ridgeline, but a fainter trail curled back along the shoreline, and because water is what drew me to this trail, we decided to take the road less travelled. It led me to some incredible examples of the mosses I so love, limned golden in low-lying winter sunlight.

Eventually, though, the undergrowth became too much of a thicket to proceed, and we turned back. It had begun to snow, the sun would soon begin sinking, and we had gotten both the beauty and the exercise that had been our purpose on Butler Reservoir.

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