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  • Writer's pictureDavid Greiner

First Day 2021

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

There is a tradition in my life every New Year's Day. First Day Hike. The Parks Service hosts guided hikes (generally, although in the time of COVID, most of these are self-guided today.) This is the 3rd year for me. Today was Fort Kearney SRA just south of Kearney, NE.

Early morning, 2021. Having coffee in the early morning light. It is quiet inside as well as outside. I hear the crunch of a vehicle driving on ice, as it goes past my house. it is 12 degrees outside with a feels like temp of 1. Am I really going to do this today? Yes. Yes I am. It really is a great way to kick-off a new year.


The sun is shining bright. It really is a beautiful Nebraska winter morning. Cold. No, VERY COLD. I am in 4 layers, a stocking cap and gaitor but I'm not feeling the cold. I grab my hiking staff and off I go.

I am walking an old abandoned rail line from Kennesaw to Kearney that has been converted to a hiking and biking trail. I am a huge fan of these. Rail lines take you off the beaten path and you have the opportunity to see things you wouldn't otherwise. It's quiet this morning.

The only sounds are the little birds that are flitting about in the trees along the path and the hum of the cars and trucks off in the distance traveling east and west on the Interstate. I cross the first of two old railroad bridges that span the Platte River. I can hear the water gurgling as it flows below me, and over and under the ice that has formed on the river. Some of the ice is moving with the current. Once in a while you will hear the ice chunks collide with others as the ice makes its way eastward.

There are only about a half dozen people out this morning. More importantly, there are two dogs on the trail, with their respective human family members. I exchange hello's with the humans, and head scritches for the doggos on the path. One of the humans and I stopped and chatted a few minutes. We talked of the weather, the tradition of First Day Hikes. and he asked if I was from the area. I mentioned being from North Platte. We chatted about a First Hike at Ash Hollow. My first one. He has an interest in hiking it. He's driven past a few times. We spoke of my dad, and his home town of Chappell. He has a buddy from Chappell. I mentioned my last name, and my grandfather's jewelry and watch shop they had at one time.

We both went on our journey

and said we would say hi again when we passed on our return to our starting point. We did, and in the time we continues our separate walks, he texted his buddy to ask bout Greiner in Chappell. He told me when we met on our return, how wonderfully small the world can be some days, and that Mr. Greiner had fixed his buddy's watch at one time. What a warm feeling that can be.

It was warming up so I was able to loosen up the coats and put gloves in my pocket as I made my way back to the truck. A quick trip into Kearney for a Panera sandwich and salad that I don't get to have very often anymore, and I was headed back home.

What a great First Day. What a great, and positive start to 2021.

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