And then the weather was bad. Really bad.
It was cold, dreary, windy, rainy, and eventually very icy. At the last minute, we gave up, called off the hike, and found something "in-doors" to do that day. Turns out we were each more disappointed then we wanted to let on to the other, and it ended up being kind of a bummer day all together. Chalk it up to my almost complete inability to deal with a sudden, drastic change in plans.
Needless to say, when the forecast that week was predicting a sunny Saturday in the high fifties, Justin and I both had the same idea: a hiking trip! Course, we didn't have a baby sitter this time, but that turned out to be no obstacle. We simply decided to make it a family hiking trip.
Yes, a family trip. This means a seven mile hike with a five year old and a two year old. I blame this insane idea on extreme cabin fever. But really, it turned out great! Sure, we had to shorten it down to five miles and we didn't do it nearly as quickly as we would have on our own, but that wasn't really the point. The point was getting outside on an uncharacteristically warm day in January and spending time together as a family.
And we did just that.
Justin filled his pack up (he wanted to practice hiking with a full pack) with the usual stuff (tent, sleeping bag, etc) and food. I made turkey sandwiches for everyone, filled a zip lock bag with pretzels and cheese its, grabbed apples, and packed water bottles. Then we layered the boys and ourselves in shirts, coats, and hats; loaded up the car; and made the half hour (ish) drive up to the park.
We originally planned on having a picnic lunch while on the trail, but since we got there around eleven, we decided to eat on a bench at the trail opening. Logan gobbled his sandwich down, while Gavin chose to take bites at his leisure while poking around in the leaves. Before long, we were all done eating and he had barely started! This meant that we basically started the hike out having to carry Gavin while he munched away. Not the best way for me (or Justin) to conserve energy for a long hike!
We were off to a slow start. Partly because we were letting the boys (mostly) walk it on their own and they were intrigued with every stick, rock, and leaf we passed by. And then it was partly because I brought my camera hoping to take lots of cool pictures. Turns out something with the meter in my camera is jacked up making it hard to adjust my settings correctly, and, well, Gavin really needed to poked and prodded frequently to keep moving. Either way, I didn't get a lot of pictures after the first mile which took us about 40 minutes to hike!
We took a break at the first mile. Let the boys sit and rest on a giant rock they found pretty nifty. It probably wasn't more than a five minute break before we were up and on our way again!
The second mile went faster - mainly because we were doing a lot more carrying of Gavin. At that point, we knew we weren't going to be able to do the full seven miles (the reality of hiking with two children had quickly sunk in), but figured we could still manage the shorter five mile loop. So, we decided to move forward instead of heading back. Of course, all of this was discussed while sitting on a bench at mile number two, sipping water. Before the really hard work had even begun!
The next mile was a tough one. Logan was wearing out, and I was pretty much done being able to carry Gavin. His added weight and wiggliness was getting just too hard on my hips and knees. Justin was probably the only one doing good at this point despite the fact that he was carrying a full pack!
At mile three we took our longest - and last - break. We stopped for a good half hour to sit, drink, snack, and potty. It was a nice break for all of us as we rested, chatted, and munched on apples, pretzels, and cheese its. The time went quickly, and then we were off again.
This was probably the hardest part of the hike for all of us...except maybe Gavin. Logan's little five year old legs were tired, my joints were aching, and Justin was now not only carrying his fully loaded pack, but also all 27 pounds of Gavin! And for a good mile and a half, Gavin was sleeping! While he took a little siesta, Justin got to hall all of that limp with sleep weight up and down hills. Poor guy should get a medal for that!
(There was a lesson learned here: When one is hiking with a two year old, one does not need a pack for one will simply end up carrying the two year old most of the time!)
Despite the last two miles of the hike being quite the workout, it was impossible not to enjoy the warm weather and beautiful scenery. But, I gotta say, at that point, the most beautiful sight ended up being the sun rays glinting off the top of our car!
Surprisingly, the boys stayed awake for the entire car ride home! We stopped at Walmart on our way to pick up a few things including Redbox movies for us and the kids and a couple of bottles of wine (that was just for us!). Once home, I stuck our dirty boys in a big bubble bath and Justin headed out to our favorite Chinese restaurant for take-out. After dinner we tucked the boys into the spare bedroom with their movie while Justin and I stayed out in the living room talking and eventually watching our own movie. It was a great way to relax after a fun day outside!
I loved this Saturday family time! Sure, there were challenges, but just being able to be outside, all of us together, more than made up for the hard parts. I'd love to take another (much shorter) family hike again when another gorgeous day strikes on a day off!
198. 57 degree days in mid-January
199. Family hikes at Ha Ha Tonka
200. Wind rustling through tree branches
201. knock-knock jokes with Logan
202. Gavin asleep in Justin's arms near the end of our hike
203. Boys splashing in a tub full of bubbles
204. Chinese take-out picked up and brought home by Justin
205. Wine paired with a redbox movie