Mark your calendar for Saturday, May 1: It’s a big one for Valley Quests!

Not only is May 1 Opening Day for Quests—”treasure hunts” that share the natural and cultural history of 160+ special areas in the Upper Valley—but it’s also the date of our first “Guided Quest” of the season.

In Guided Quests, an expert leads a group on a particular Quest, offering special details about its wonders. For this event, Valley Quest Coordinator Sandy Gmur and Kevin Tolan, Vermont Center for Ecostudies‘ Vernal Pool Monitor Coordinator, lead an exploration of a vernal pool in the Hurricane Forest of Hartford. The pool is part of the “Sally’s Salamander Meander” Quest, and like all vernal pools is a great place to observe amphibian life this time of year. (Why are vernal pools so good for frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians? Because they dry up as the summer progresses and thus don’t support fish, which tend to gobble up the amphibian eggs.) This event involves a moderate hike and is appropriate for families and adults. Registration is required; space is limited. Register at Hartford Parks and Recreation.

What’s more, the Sally Salamander Meander is one of the 12 Quests that are part of this season’s Super Quest, on the topic of “Climate Connections.”

The Climate Connections Super Quest examines the ways climate change is affecting the Upper Valley—from plants, insects, and other animals moving here from the south due to warming temperatures; to more frequent and more powerful storms; to people migrating from other places experiencing even greater climate-induced changes. The Super Quest also looks at ways we’re preventing or adapting to climate change, including flood control through land preservation; green energy technologies; and regenerative agricultural practices. From May 1 to November 1, follow any five of those 12 Super Quests to find their hidden treasure boxes and collect the stamp impressions from their treasure box, and you’ll receive a special Super Quest patch and be entered to win a grand prize. The 12 Quests can be variously done as walks, hikes, or by canoe or kayak.

Where the Climate Connections Super Quest Can Take You

Cedar Circle Farm Quest, Thetford, VT: Focus on regenerative agriculture while touring a certified organic farm and nonprofit education center.

Chaffee Sanctuary Quest, Lyme, NH: Get to know an “alder swamp”—a common Upper Valley wetland that provides great habitat for animals and natural flood protection for humans.

Cook Quest, New London, NH: Learn about how plants and soil sequester carbon while observing the forest, streams, and wetlands of the Mt. Kearsarge/Lake Sunapee region.

Donella Meadows Quest, Hartland, VT: Hear about a pioneering system thinker, author, and climate change activist while visiting the Cobb Hill cohousing community she founded 20 years ago.

Flowing to the River Quest, Norwich, VT: Hike along this Connecticut River tributary while learning how plants along the stream help keep its water clean.

Lebanon Energy Quest, Lebanon, NH: Starting at the former Mascoma Flannel Company (now the Rivermill Complex), a look at generations of power, from water to propane to green sources.

Loon Quest, Enfield, NH: A water quest on Lake Mascoma in search of a fabulous bird who needs clean waters. Begin and end at a the new Mascoma Lakeside Park, for launching non-motorized boats!

Lower Slade Brook, Hanover, NH: Hike along the brook crossing this 36-acre conserved parcel, observing waterfalls while reflecting on the role forests play in cleaning the air.

Sally’s Salamander Meander, Hartford, VT: Discover a vernal pool and learn about its critical role for salamanders and their wet, wiggley rites of spring.

Sunapee Harbor Quest, Sunapee, NH: This gentle stroll highlights the lake’s natural and historic features and the stewardship and educational work of the Lake Sunapee Protective Association.

Sustainability Quests, Woodstock, VT: (For Elementary Students) Learn about what goes on above the mansion area at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, including tree management, a solar kiln, and gardens!! (For High Schoolers and older) Observe the sustainability program and climate-aware forest management of this park—which is named after an Upper Valley native considered to be America’s first environmentalist.