January 10, 2015 - Blue Hills Snowshoeing and Museum with St. Peters
On Saturday Jan. 10th, Boston ICO volunteers Jeff and Lindsey accompanied St. Peters staff member James and 6 young men and women in 7th and 8th grade to the Blue Hills in Canton, MA. We all met at St. Peters in the morning and quickly set off to the nearby Blue Hills to the Trailside Museum. We spent the morning looking through the great museum exhibits and admiring the live animals in the outdoor areas, especially the river otter that kept us entertained with acrobatic back flips in the pool.
After having a lunch in the auditorium, we settled in for a great live animal presentation that was a big hit, as it featured 3 different types of turtles found locally (spotted, snapping, and box turtles), all of which were at least 35 years old or older, as some of the museum's records don't go back far enough to know for sure! We also learned that all turtles have 13 full tiles on their backs, and that the sex of a turtle is determined by the temperature that their eggs are exposed to (warmer temperatures = more females). There is even concern that global warming will drastically increase the female to male ratio of turtles!
After wrapping up at the Trailside Museum, we took a short drive to the top of Chickatawbut hill to the nature center that was converted from a former military radar station. There, 2 Blue Hills naturalists (Emma and Shane) taught us all about the history of snow shoes with Native American tribes and all the different types (including the bear paw and beaver tail, fashioned after the paws of their namesakes in the wild) and lined up by height to try them on! We played some games and got used to walking around a lightly snow-covered field while admiring the views of greater Boston, including a great view of downtown and the harbor.
We then went took off the snowshoes (as there wasn't nearly enough snow to use them on the rocky trails) and took a short hike to see some great sunset views and learn about the geology of the Blue Hills (they're called 'Blue Hills" because the granite appears blueish in certain light), and learn all about the glaciers and volcanic activity that created the unique rocks in Massachusetts, include the unique composite "Roxbury Puddingstone", the state rock of MA!
It was a great day in the Blue Hills, and special thanks to Emma, Shane, and the rest of the staff for hosting us. At least one of the St. Peters youth was interested in working or interning at the Blue Hills in the future, which we would love to make happen!