A couple weeks ago I wanted to go on a hike. My husband was at work, which meant that it was going to be me and the kiddies. So I mentally geared up. Even though it can be a bit of a challenge to go for a hike with two young ones, I really wanted to get out of the desert heat and escape to the mountains. So we packed our backpacks (Desert Boy is required to carry one now, although I take out most of what he puts in it), and headed up to 10,000 feet to the trailhead. The temperature was fabulous, in the 60's.
The trail I selected was a loop, about two and a half miles long. I carried Desert Girl in a baby carrier, which meant Desert Boy was going to have to hike the entire way by himself. I knew physically he could do it, but mentally he would have to be persuaded. So we played games, and he remembered one from a previous hike, where we looked for hollowed out stumps.
The flaky bark on this Engelmann spruce caught my eye, a victim of spruce beetles.
I showed Desert Boy all the flaky bark at the base and the numerous holes in the bark on the tree. He probably won't remember it at all, but sometimes I can't muffle the ecologist in me! Even if my audience is a three-year old.
Bridges and elevated walkways are automatically counted in the fun category, and they don't take any extra persuading to cross.
We spotted this unusual knot in an aspen tree. Where I grew up, the Native Americans and early settlers sometimes twisted trees like this to mark trails, but I'm not sure what caused this one.
Then Desert Boy started in on the "Are we there yet?" questions. I had told him that we were going to visit two lakes, and although it was apparent that we weren't at a lake, he couldn't resist asking the question.
So we started a new game: throwing pine cones.
It was a pretty good game, lasting about five minutes.
Then it was back to, "Are we there yet?"
Fortunately we found some more distractions: some deer and then this Uinta chipmunk.
Then we proceeded with more of the same question.
Finally we got to the lake, and both kids were delighted. Desert Boy was mainly happy because I would finally let him eat a snack, and Desert Girl was happy because she could sit.
She cooperated with me for a scenic photo.
And then she said, "Come on mama, isn't that enough? I think you're taking too many photos."
Desert Girl can be opinionated like that.
Besides taking photos of my adorable kids, I also took lots of flower photos. I've been able to keep up my A Plant a Day blog better than I expected this summer, and in the process have been able to learn many more plants. I even jumped into the grasses, a plant family that has intimidated me in the past.
Oh, and if you're wondering what the flower is, it's some kind of aster. I'm not actually one hundred percent sure which one. I have a few (or more than a few) photos of plants that I still have yet to identify. So when it's all cold and snowy this winter, I'll be able to reminisce about the warm summer weather by looking at my 'unknown plant' photo file.
It was obvious that winter isn't all that far away by the low level of the second lake. Most of it had evaporated or drained away during the summer.
Some other people were at the lake when we were, and Desert Boy decided that they were his friends (we had never seen them before, but Desert Boy didn't let that stop him). He wanted to hike back to the trailhead with them. So when they left, we scurried to pack up our backpack contents and started running after them.
Desert Boy followed closely for a long way. Then he got distracted by some logs.
He wanted to walk on the logs, and I told him to go ahead.
He was balancing carefully. Oh, and if you're wondering about the outfit, he picked it out. He really wanted to wear the pajama bottoms, and I didn't see that it mattered, so I told him fine. He has quite the fashion sense.
He continued playing on the logs until he fell, then we managed to catch up to the other hikers (who had stopped to talk to other hikers). We followed them back to the trailhead, Desert Boy entertaining them by pretending to be a train. He was a very loud train, especially since he had packed his train whistle, but they fortunately didn't care.
It was a great hike, especially once Desert Boy stopped asking, "Are we there yet?" He didn't ask that any after the first lake.
Thank you to all hikers who encourage little kids--it does make a difference!