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Thetford Trail Honors Kindred Spirit

  • A view, of the marshes from the Linny Levin trail, including a beaver lodge in Thetford, VT, a 3/4 mile trail on November 15, 2012. The trail, which is located on Houghton Hill Road and being dedicated on Saturday, is named for Linny Levin, a trail steward who died of breast cancer 12 years ago. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    A view, of the marshes from the Linny Levin trail, including a beaver lodge in Thetford, VT, a 3/4 mile trail on November 15, 2012. The trail, which is located on Houghton Hill Road and being dedicated on Saturday, is named for Linny Levin, a trail steward who died of breast cancer 12 years ago.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ted Levin, of Thetford Vermont and Upper Valley Land Trust Stewardship Coordinator Jason Berard, of North Thetford look at a wasp's nest that was found on the Linny Levin trail in Thetford, VT on November 15, 2012. The trail, which circles the Zebedee Wetlands off of Houghton Hill Road is being dedicated on Saturday to the memory of Levin's late wife, Linny Levin, a trail steward who died of breast cancer 12 years ago. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Ted Levin, of Thetford Vermont and Upper Valley Land Trust Stewardship Coordinator Jason Berard, of North Thetford look at a wasp's nest that was found on the Linny Levin trail in Thetford, VT on November 15, 2012. The trail, which circles the Zebedee Wetlands off of Houghton Hill Road is being dedicated on Saturday to the memory of Levin's late wife, Linny Levin, a trail steward who died of breast cancer 12 years ago.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Zebedee Wetlands is the centerpiece of the Linny Levin trail in Thetford, VT on November 15, 2012. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    The Zebedee Wetlands is the centerpiece of the Linny Levin trail in Thetford, VT on November 15, 2012.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • A view, of the marshes from the Linny Levin trail, including a beaver lodge in Thetford, VT, a 3/4 mile trail on November 15, 2012. The trail, which is located on Houghton Hill Road and being dedicated on Saturday, is named for Linny Levin, a trail steward who died of breast cancer 12 years ago. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Ted Levin, of Thetford Vermont and Upper Valley Land Trust Stewardship Coordinator Jason Berard, of North Thetford look at a wasp's nest that was found on the Linny Levin trail in Thetford, VT on November 15, 2012. The trail, which circles the Zebedee Wetlands off of Houghton Hill Road is being dedicated on Saturday to the memory of Levin's late wife, Linny Levin, a trail steward who died of breast cancer 12 years ago. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • The Zebedee Wetlands is the centerpiece of the Linny Levin trail in Thetford, VT on November 15, 2012. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

— It’s only fitting that a trail built through somewhere as “magical” as Zebedee Wetland is to be named for Linda “Linny” Levin.

Having passed away 12 years ago from breast cancer, Levin carried the same kind of inspiring spirit contained within Zebedee’s abundant natural features.

Teeming with beaver activity and home to native bird species and diverse plant life, the wetland was one of Levin’s favorite places in town. The Upper Valley Land Trust and Thetford Conservation Commission will recognize that in a dedication ceremony tomorrow when it christens a newly constructed, 0.75-mile trail at 1 p.m. The ceremony is open to the public.

“The idea of land conservation and Linny were kindred spirits,” said UVLT president Jeanie McIntyre, whose non-profit organization secured protection of the 27.3-acre wetland in early 2010. “She was a naturalist and a teacher and loved coming here.”

Levin, a longtime outdoor programs coordinator at Norwich’s Montshire Museum, once lived near the Zebedee Wetland, on Thetford Hill’s Houghton Hill Road. She would join her husband, Ted, on birding outings there, and their children, Casey and Jordan, frequented the area as students at Thetford Elementary School.

The area continues to be a field-trip destination for the second-grade class of TES teacher Joanna Waldman, who brings her young students there to connect with nature or observe its scientific elements on a weekly basis, weather permitting.

“When Linny passed away, I was still a member of the Thetford Conservation Commission and started the (Linny Levin Fund) to accept contributions,” Ted Levin explained yesterday during a tour of the new trail. “The original idea was to build something along the Ompompanoosuc River in Post Mills, but this is much more suitable. She loved coming here, our kids came here and kids still use it all the time, so it’s perfect.”

Proceeds from the Linny Levin Fund were used for wood materials to construct an information kiosk at the trailhead, more than 180 feet of bog bridges and a series of benches facing the water. In lieu of trail blazes, square wooden placards featuring paintings of animals done by Waldman’s students will mark the path.

A total of about 400 volunteer man hours were put into the construction of the trail, which required heavy stone moving, brush clearing and culvert digging as well as the cutting and configuring of the wooden features.

A lot of the (pre-existing) trail went right through ruts or wet spots,” said UVLT trail steward Jason Bernard, of North Thetford. “We tried to focus on getting the (new route of the trail) up onto high spots. There’s a lot of hydric soil through here, being that it (abuts the wetland).”

Setting out on a counterclockwise stroll, the trail soon enters a muddy stretch near the outset and a series of boulders strategically placed for stepping before a long footbridge traversing over Zebedee Brook.

A moss-covered stone wall marks part of the conservation land’s southern boundary before the path cuts north through mixed evergreens on soft, pine needle-covered soil. Made from locally harvested hemlock, the first bench offers a fine view of the wetlands, peppered with cattails.

“This is a great area for the cross country ski program (at Thetford Elementary School),” said volunteer Inge Trebitz, a friend of Linny’s. “Even when there’s no snow here, there’s normally so much slushy ice that you can glide right through.”

Leaving the edge of the wetlands, the path arrives at a glistening pond, where another bench rests. Here is what Waldman’s classes refer to as one of the area’s “magic places,” where students are encouraged to sit in silence or create makeshift art from the natural elements at hand.

Yesterday, lingering surface ice from Wednesday night’s below-freezing temperatures created a stunning visual effect over weathered lily pads in the water.

“It looks like stained glass or decoupage (fine art),” McIntyre commented. “It’s so three-dimensional. This is why they call these the magic spots.”

After looping around a 1,000-foot diversion built by UVLT and its volunteers partners — avoiding a stretch of impassable wetlands — the path continues along the north side of the pond. Soon a short spur trail leads to an area containing a Valley Quest box, part of a treasure hunt system featuring boxes stationed at natural and cultural locations throughout the Upper Valley. Linny Levin placed one of the educational program’s boxes at Zebedee in the late 1990s, friends said yesterday.

“It’s a way to keep track of how many people visit certain areas and to encourage people to learn about those areas,” Trebitz said of the Valley Quest network. “There are over 200 of them now, but Linny placed one here a long time ago.”

Levin’s friends and family think Linny would be happy the trail named for her is placed where Thetford children continue to play and learn. “It’s pretty much all about the kids,” said Bernard. “I think she would be happy with what’s happened here.”

Future plans for the project include a memorial stone.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.