Hikers experience early-American hamlet life during lantern walk

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:17

    HEWITT-More than 70 nocturnal hikers gathered on an autumn evening at Long Pond Ironworks museum in Hewitt for an educational Lantern Walk on Nov 6. Two lantern tours were offered by the museum, one at 7:30 p.m. for families with children and one at 9 p.m. for adults only. The freezing weather and the darkness helped authenticate the harsh realities of what life was like for people of an Iron making village during the 1800s. Rob Sparkes who led the tour spoke about the mission behind the lantern tours. "We have lantern tours two or three times a year. The purpose is to present a sense of village life at night and share some local folklore. Plus it's a cool thing to do." Although the museum provided lanterns for hikers several participants designed and made their own handmade lanterns for the hike. The Christie sisters of Wayne made monogrammed lanterns out of coffee cans. Before the hike Blair Christie spoke about hiking in the dark through the woods. " I am not afraid or nervous about being in the woods at night with local wildlife." Another group that also made their own lanterns was led by mom Susan Earl. "Making the lanterns was a process that took 2 days. We blew up a balloon and then put a layer of tissue of colored tissue paper with glue. Let it dry for a day and add another layer and you have a lantern. We come here to hike a lot during the day and we decided it would be a fun adventure to make lanterns and hike at night." After all the lanterns were lit and distributed to the hikers, the hike which was a mile round trip began at the museum and continued throughout the iron-making village in the dark. Various stops along the trail included women attending to their household chores, an Indian campsite and a final stop at the furnaces where professional storyteller Chuck Stead told folk stories around a giant bon-fire. "You have to be careful, stay on the path with the guided tour and carry a lantern for light and you'll be fine." Says Joanna Stackle of West Milford a volunteer for 18 years with Long Pond. Cold noses and chilly feet failed to dull enthusiasm for the walk. Laura Christie, 7, of Wayne said when the hike ended. " I liked the storyteller the most we learned how difficult life was for people who lived at Long Pond in the 1800s. It was definitely worth hiking in the dark through the woods." Shelby Earl, 12, of Ringwood added, " It was scary and hard for people in the 1800s I learned a lot. It was freezing but I would definitely come back and do it again."