Valentine’s Day is most often celebrated indoors with chocolate and roses. At Merry Lea’s Valentine dinner on Friday, Feb. 15, the special treat is a night hike.
Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, Wolf Lake, Ind., is most frequently visited during the daytime, but at night, its trails hold a magic of their own. In fact, an October evening event for children is known as the Enchanted Forest.
Couples may arrive any time after 6:30 p.m. A hearty stew, homemade bread, salad and luscious dessert will be served buffet style at 7 p.m., followed by a night hike by lantern light.
Falling snow or stars would be nice, but we can at least promise the flickering of lantern flame, leaves crunching underfoot and the heightening of senses that happens when vision is limited. Owls may call; it is mating season for the Great Horned Owl. Couples will be alone on the trail for part of the time and with the group part of the time.
The hike will be on mowed trails with minimal hills, but some spots could be wet or slippery. Dress warmly. Boots are a good idea. The hike will be adjusted depending on the weather, but should conclude by 9 p.m.
“Last year when we held a Valentine dinner, I sensed we were genuinely nurturing couples’ relationships. People valued the chance to get away and be outdoors together, and I’m proud to offer this experience again,” said Jennifer Schrock, coordinator of public programs.