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Midges, mud mar Snow Hill march

While steep, the north side of the trail was relatively dry.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

“We had a lady call us about a guy wandering the streets with one shoe on.”

Yes, you did, officer.

And while I would like to add a couple details about my predicament, I have to admit, that description was spot on. How did I end up in this situation? Where did my shoe go? It all starts with a Google search.

When you look up Dover’s Snow Hill Trail on the internet, you don’t find much. There are a couple of descriptions of the old days, when you could climb the fire tower; a triathlete unsuccessfully goading people into beating his time from the street to the fire tower fence; a woman noting that at points on the trail, you’ll end up on private property; and a person complaining about the midges.

While I didn’t know it at the time, the last two comments would foreshadow my day.

This sign should have been a clue these trails aren’t used all that often.

After parking on the little cutout on Snow Hill Lane, I headed up the trail. While not especially long, the trail is very steep. It must not be used especially often, though, because at one point I came upon a sign for hunting season from 2012. After a bit of a walk on flat ground, essentially, you’re walking straight uphill until you reach the fire tower. Unfortunately, the fire tower is very disappointing.

It would have been really cool to see what was inside the fire tower, and to get a view from its vantage point.

While the tower, which stands about a hundred feet up, would undoubtedly offer a great view, the surrounding area doesn’t. And since you can’t climb the tower (it’s all fenced off), at the hill’s highest point, a hiker is unable to see anything through the trees (you don’t get above the tree line). While it was cool to see what a fire tower looks like, it still felt like an anticlimactic hike. Dejected, I headed down the trail. Rather than walk down the same steep hill, I headed down the other side.

This was a huge mistake.

For whatever reason, this part of the trail was absurdly muddy and swarming with midges. I mean, swarming. I couldn’t breathe at points, as I was being so heavily attacked by these little bugs - inhaling them, eating them, and being assaulted from every corner.

Then I lost my shoe.

The south side was pretty wet, which probably caused the bugs to be so out of control.

The mud was so thick in places on the far side of the trail that at one point, my shoe was completely submerged, became soaked, and popped off my foot. When this happened, I took off my sock, shoved the wet shoe in my sweatshirt pocket and decided that one way or another, I was getting out of these woods. Luckily, I saw a trail leading to a house, and what I thought was the street.

It was a house, but it wasn’t a street. It was a woman’s extremely long driveway. So, half barefoot, covered in midge bites and coated with enough mud to fight the Predator, I stumbled out of her backyard and onto her driveway. She wasn’t happy about it. Her four golden retrievers weren’t happy about it. Both were vocal with their displeasure about the situation.

My shoe (probably should’ve worn boots) actually survived this mud patch, it was the next one that killed it.

After apologizing and attempting to explain what happened, I hobbled down the street, where the Dover Police greeted me. Three cruisers, in fact. This one-shoed man, three police cruiser combination attracted about as much neighborhood attention as you would think at a time when everyone is inside their houses.

While I was happy to explain what was going on and give them my information, and they were very cordial and understanding of my situation, there was, understandably, one thing they weren’t willing to do for me.

“We’ll help point you back to your car, but we’re not giving you a ride all muddy like that.”

Fair enough officer, fair enough. I hobbled down the street with my one shoe, because as long as there were no bugs biting me, I was more than happy to walk.

Police or no police, the Snow Hill hike really isn’t worth it. The bugs are vicious, the mud is thick, and without being able to climb the fire tower, there is no view.

To the woman on Hamlin’s Crossing: I'm sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. You might consider placing a sign at the beginning of the trail leading to your backyard from the woods, so this doesn’t happen again. (No hard feelings, though. Considering what I looked like, I’d have called the police on me, too).

To the Dover PD, thank you for being so understanding.

And to whoever is in charge of the fire tower, if you see an ember, please protect the people and the very nice houses of the surrounding area. But, if it will do something about the horrific midge situation, at least for a little while, let it burn.

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