Winter’s not letting go of the Arb just yet. So walk—don’t run—says one Matthaei-Nichols student caretaker
By Brad Kasberg

The Nichols Arboretum caretakers don’t just help run the Arboretum—they run in the Arboretum, too. Last Saturday (March 22), after a long winter of hibernation, I donned my running shoes, stepped outside the caretaker cottage, and went for my first outdoor run of the year. I was set for an enjoyable voyage through the Arb in early “spring”: the air was crisp, a few birds were chirping, the sun was shining, and the river was beautiful and flowing quickly from all that melting snow and ice.

Nichols Arboretum trails are still locked in ice
late March 2014.

As it turns out, all that snow and ice hadn’t melted as much as I’d have liked. I was prepared for a mixture of small puddles, slush, and ice, but I wasn’t prepared for trails still almost entirely covered in snow and ice. The less-used trails and those on north-facing slopes were still frozen over, with frozen footprints making the trail both uneven and slippery. I had to slow down my run and jog/walk carefully along the trail, making sure to step carefully.

Trails conditions are still icy enough that the Ann Arbor Marathon, which is scheduled for Sunday, March 30, and usually travels through Nichols Arboretum, has changed the route to avoid the Arb.

While the trails aren’t too hospitable for a brief jog or a marathon, slowing down and walking through the Arb was still a wonderful experience. I find something beautiful about the process of our changing seasons and the anticipation of new life and activity. Fairly soon the trails will melt, the redbuds will bloom, and the spring ephemerals will start to pop. Until then, I’ll walk.

Update: A few 50+-degree days and the trails will thaw soon enough. Hopefully the long winter won’t delay the Peony Garden, Laurel Ridge, Centennial Shrub Collection, or the spring ephemerals.

Brad Kasberg is a Master’s in Landscape Architecture/Master’s in Urban Planning candidate in the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment.