After graduating college and moving to Rockland I have become much less of a social creature. I’ve gone from an active community of students my age in a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ atmosphere to the real world where I practice a ‘work-hard-then-sleep-so-I-can-be-ready-for-my-job-tomorrow’ lifestyle.

I am a social creature and love to spend time around people. So, this transition has been somewhat difficult for me.

That is one of the reasons I jump at any opportunity to get out and see friends around the area. One of those opportunities happened this past weekend.

This weekend a group of recently graduated college friends (Dave, Casey, Jamie, myself, and our host Michelle) gathered in Wells to visit Michelle who works with the Wells National Estuarine research Reserve as an Environmental Education Fellow.

I’m still not exactly sure what she does.

As it happened, I was planning to be in Portland, visiting another friend, and thought I would make it a social-marathon weekend.

“Now how does this all pertain to the VillageSoup sports section I help produce each week?” you may ask. Well, sparing the details of the gathering, we all thought it would be nice to check out the preserve and take a day hike around the area.

It’s not that I particularly like walking around for hours in below-freezing weather, but a brisk hike does the body good and with friends it’s even better.

I also find that when the Maine cold comes my Southern blood is not as eager to get out and pump itself so this was a good excuse to get some outdoor exercise.

According to their website, “The Wells Reserve is a 2,250-acre research, education, and recreation facility, a public-private partnership within the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.”

The reserve “dedicated to protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems of the Gulf of Maine through integrated research, stewardship, environmental learning, and community partnerships.”

We headed out around 1 p.m. bright eyed and bushy tailed, scarfed, and layered.

All around the entrance to the preserve was calm and serene. There were Nordic ski tracks lining the trails and other prints showing a fair amount of use.

We could hear the crunch of snow underfoot and could barely understand the lecture our former college tour-guide friend, Jamie, was telling us on our mock tour.

Of course she knew nothing about the preserve.

“And here we have the spot where Harry Potter crashed his broom and died,” she said as we passed a pole stuck in the ground. Hermione’s crashed broom was also about 10 feet down the path we found out.

Michelle tried to show us the remains of a building that burned down in 1902. According to her, ashes from the fire happened to cause a barn on the Laudholm farm, a quarter of a mile away, to burn down.

We weren’t able to see the foundation itself, but I got the idea.

I didn’t have any idea what the preserve was going to be like. I had gone in blind and wasn’t really expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised when we came to the estuary itself.

It had a picturesque quality with its snow covered grass and semi-frozen waters. The only thing there was a duck floating by in the distance. It was no Yosemite, but I liked the scene.

Soon our jaunt took an ugly turn.

It was bound to happen. There was snow on the ground and scheming afoot.

When we came to a small field with a hill one of the girls came crashing down, with Dave on her back. The snow fights had begun.

Wrestling, pelting, sneaking, and cold, cold wetness intermittently marked the rest of our day as the dam had been broken and the idea was in all of our heads.

Fortunately, I was to remain unscathed.

As we restarted our hike, warily keeping an eye on the others behind us, we eventually came to a beach.

I have never been to a beach in the winter and it was an odd feeling to be so cold on the sand.

We tossed stones, took pictures, and soon left the biting sea breeze alone.

Our next stop was the Loudholm farm, which acts as the main campus for the organization that runs the preserve. It was a working farm until the 1980s when the land was partitioned and bought by several groups including the community and the government to prevent development.

Now there is a visitor’s center, summer camp classrooms, an auditorium, and the Coastal Ecology Center, has exhibits, and a teaching lab.

Dave decided he should make a snowman there. So he found hunks of frozen snow and piled them up. It was not very pretty but I guess it was effective nonetheless.

Our walk was almost over by that point. We had made the call to opt out of the longer route thanks to the cold and decided to head home.

When we got there I think the hike had just taken its toll because almost as soon as we got back we laid down.

The pre-dinner napping was about to begin.

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick “Fritz” Freudenberger can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.