September 4, 2013

Holiday Fun

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles before I sleep."
- Frost

I'm going to interrupt the normally horse-centric posts for one about the rest of us. Shhh....don't tell Gem.

What to do with a 3 day weekend and beautiful weather? Be outside of course! And we definitely were. Saturday was hiking with the dogs at Saddler's Creek State Park followed by taking W to the swimming pool for the afternoon and then another walk for the pups around the neighborhood in the evening. Sunday was barn day, but I didn't ride (see Sunday's post) and hiked around the farm instead. Then we played all day and walked the pups in the afternoon. Monday came and we wanted to do something different. Ever since moving down here and realizing how close to actual mountains (well, east coast mountains anyway) we would be, we have been itching to go hiking. Before the arrival of the awesome baby backpack we were limited in distance and difficulty level, but now we have freedom.

A patient recommended Table Rock State Park as a great hiking destination that is only 45 minutes away, so we mapped it out. It is only 3.5 miles (and 2200 ft of elevation gain) to the top of Table Rock and if we were lucky enough we could then hike 2 miles over to the next summit (can't remember the mountain name right now) which is about 200 ft lower and then head back for a nice 12 mile round trip loop. Being somewhat realistic in expectations, we figured we would shoot for Table Rock only on this trip and do the rest the next time.

One major change in our lives since W joined our family is the complete inability to leave the house in under an hour. Before W we could just leave. Now we have to grab his bag and pack it so full of various objects that you would think we were going away for a week. By the time that is done, he needs a snack and changed and then finally we can head out to pack up the van and leave. It doesn't seem to matter where we are going or for how long. It always takes an hour.

We got to the trail head later than we wanted to and W had decided to not nap all morning (nothing new there) and stay awake during the drive as well. This made for a tired baby from the start, but we were prepared. His nice, comfy pack was waiting for him and we even remembered to bring his lunch. The trail head was super busy. There is a nice lake there with a swimming area and even a high diving board and it was packed with holiday revelers. We were a little disappointed with the trail at first because it was paved, but once we got past the ranger station building and the first of several beautiful waterfalls, all the urbanites dwindled and we had a dirt trail and trees to keep us company.

I started off with W on my back and we headed up. And up. And up. I swear the corps of engineers had never heard of a switchback! Instead of making a nice trail that zig zagged its way up the mountain, they just cut stone steps into the side and made you go straight up. We passed several really nice waterfalls on the way up. W LOVES moving water and that helped get him out of his cranky funk and interested in the walk.

We knew the weather was warm out, but at home the humidity had been relatively low compared to what we are used to. Not in the woods. It was HUMID. I was almost immediately covered in a film of sweat that just wouldn't stop. The hubs was even worse with it literally pouring off of him. Thankfully, the backpack came with (thanks to the generosity of my father-in-law who sent the whole set up to us) a 2 liter water pack that we had filled up before we left home. We needed it. I wanted to make it the first half before giving up W to the hubs, but after 0.5 miles in, my legs were feeling it. I didn't want to fall and hurt him, so I handed him over to the hubs who took him the rest of the way. I immediately felt 10 degrees cooler and way lighter (he is 20 lbs and the pack has weight plus all the things we crammed into it - I bet it was 40 lbs).

We got to just beyond 1 mile and W lost it. He began crying and fussing nonstop so we pulled over. We prepared his lunch (aren't we such good Sherpas? Why doesn't Gme provide lunch for me when I am riding her?) and hoped he would settle back into happy baby mode, but he wasn't having it. He was exhausted. Why the kid refuses to sleep ever is beyond me, but we made the decision to turn back around and not ruin anything.

I let the hubs keep W for the trip down. I dislike steep down hills with slippery rocks and really didn't want to risk falling with W on my back. We made it down very quickly and he fell asleep about 10 minutes from the car. His neck was cranked to almost 90 degrees while asleep and I am very glad we didn't push onward. We need to figure out something to make him more comfortable while asleep up there. Maybe a travel neck pillow?

All in all it was a lot of fun. We were disappointed that we didn't make the summit, but poor W had put up with it for 90 minutes and had just had enough. He woke up back at the car and stayed awake all the way home. We were tired and thirsty and hungry but he wanted to play, play, play so we did for an hour before I forced him to nap. Then we took the dogs for another walk and called it a night.
A great weekend!!

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