Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday AC!!!

With this time of year always being really tight for us and knowing that the kids have enjoyed going to the parks and hiking, we decided that instead of a birthday party for AC, that we'd go out to Turkey Run State Park- which the kids had a BLAST back in May with that visit.

We decided to try their Geo-tagging guided walk and once we arrived, the walk guide - a younger guy came out and asked what type of trails we were looking t do.. There were two other families with in our small group, along with an older gentleman that had been a parks employee in the past. The one family, had two girls and a boy with mom and dad. Dad & Son immediately piped up that they wanted to do the rugged stuff. We said we had done some moderate stuff in May and could do some more rugged stuff than that, as long as we stayed away from ladders- so we wouldn't have to hoist Rei up the ladder.

So the guide says we'll take off for trail #9, via trails 3 and 5. I was wondering, as I didn't remember #9 being a trail we'd considered before but figured the guide would be mindful of the fact that we had a guide dog, small kids, and the other girls in flip flops for shoes.

So we take off and the guide explains that he has his GPS set to record our geographic location at a set time interval- I believe he said every 3 minutes so it would plot where we had been all along the trail. Then if any of us wanted to take pictures, to stop the group and he would have it record then for the time and location and would plug in to a website called where it would tie pictures with the locations.

Here we are at the end of the suspension bridge, as several are taking pictures and getting cameras set up and so forth. Hubby holding MD's hand and Grandma with G in the puppy carrier.

Grandpa with S on the flex-lead

A large rock jutting out over the river:

We went a little further and there was a water worn crag out of the rock that the kids were able to get up inside of to sit on:

Before too long, everyone started to get warm and we started to peel the sweatshirts we'd worn starting out. Here's KT helping MD tie hers around her waist. MD with her arms up in the air and KT tying it on.

Our guide bent over and showing AC that the GPS was working and where exactly we were:

We soon came to Falls Canyon, which we hiked up the side of the canyon with water trickling down, making the rocks wet and somewhat slippery. I'll be honest, I didn't get pictures of the best stuff- I was too busy trying to keep up with the group and navigate the rough terrain!

Here's a crag overhang at the bottom of Falls Canyon with the leafy foliage:

Hubby working his way up the canyon side:

The rest of the group working their way up the canyon:

Once everyone made it up the canyon (very slowly) we took a water break for the humans and animals and THEN the guide revealed that we'd also made a pretty significant elevation change as well with a large set of stairs to climb as well.

Grandma and Grandpa offering S & G water to drink:

A brown toad we saw hopping along the side of the trail:

We then continued on and here is KT, Grandma, the guide on down the trail a bit:

Hubby and AC walking down the trail together:

We then started to work our way down into Boulder Canyon. As we did so, the trail got very narrow and MD really surprised me. It was pretty much a sheer drop off to the left and the trail wasn't nearly wide enough for Rei and I to walk normally, so I gave some leash and let her walk ahead of me, still guiding me on the leash though. Anyway, in the past, had we came to this, one of us would have had to hold MD's hand and drug her through this part. Having been in gymnastics and such, she didnt even flinch. She simply put her hands out to her sides as if she were walking on the balance beam and kept right on going w/o any protest. Talk about a proud mom moment there. :D

Hubby, AC, & MD looking down the drop off into Boulder Canyon:

Rei stopped at the tree roots to let me know there was uneven ground and trying to decide what would be the best route to take me. She really, really, REALLY amazed me at how well she did all of this. She really worked hard this day and even when people went other ways, she took me the smoothest and best routes every time. :)

A huge rock wall to our right and drop off to the left, with MD leading the pack and Hubby with AC:

Once at the bottom of Boulder Canyon, we went on a little bit of an extra excursion, as Hubby missed the trail marker and the Dad, girls, and son had went on up a really rocky and rough spot, so we were following along, thinking we were on the trail. I'll admit, I was really hitting the end of my rope and really beginning to get crabby as the more fatigued I was becoming, the more and more it wa affecting my vision.

I've found that as I become more fatigued and if out of breath, my vision will severely constrict in peripheral fields, I'll begin to miss a lot of things, and all in all, it was getting harder and harder for me to tell where rocks began and ended since we were walking on rock beds, dirt trails, and all being in earth tones.

So we continue on this little excursion- unbeknownst to us yet and encounter these large boulders, water and such:

Following along the creek bed:

Following the other family's kids up to the waterfall ahead and getting into some really rough terrain:

The rock to climb up to get to the waterfall. I took this picture and then was standing there going how the France am I going to get myself AND Rei up that???

Decided to stall and take a couple of pictures of the waterfall itself instead:

Then we realized that we were NOT on the trail and the guide says "Oh! I thought you guys were wanting to see the waterfall." Honestly, if looks could have killed- Hubby would have been dead and 6 ft in the ground with the look he then got from me.

Hubby sheepishly grinning as he knows he's in serious hot water from my look of death:

Hubby helping our kids back down that huge rock that I thankfully didn't try to go up:

So then we got back to the trail itself and found ourselves facing this huge wall of boulders to climb over and around. We aren't talking little things, Im talking huge rocks 2-3 feet in diameter big. Then after making it through the boulders, we had some more stairs to work before making it to a bridge point, at which I pretty much hit my breaking point and was DONE... We'd been at this for 3 hours and MD was starting to whine that she didn't like it and wasn't having a good time and I was becoming more and more crabby the more tired I was getting.

The guide was talking to us about the gps again and showed us that we'd just done a MAJOR elevation shift as well that was contributing to the difficulty of things.

Rei taking a breather at this break:

Grandma and G pretty worn out too- sitting on the bench:

AC chatting with Grandpa while everyone is trying to catch thier breath:

S- one really dirty Papillon who walked the entire hike!

So then we soon came to a split in the trail, where trail #9 intersected with trail #5. We decided to head on back along trail #5 to back track back to trail #3 and the way we'd came to trail #9, as most of us were ready to be done and tired.

We made one more stop along the trail as the guide and the older gentleman saw another plant they recognized. I was having a mini- meltdown as my patience was NIL at this point and every joint in my body was screaming in protest and my vision felt like it was about the size of a pencil eraser too. Most of all I was glad to be back on flat ground and wanted to move it along to get back and get the backpack off of my back and sit down somewhere and not be surrounded by nothing but woods.

However MD and AC made the most of the stop and found a large rock to climb up on and jump off of:

AC standng up on the rock pretending to look for animals- his hand up to his forehead as he's looking around:

We quickly made it back to trail three and followed along the river again and saw some canoes coming down the river:

Finally we made it back to the nature center and rested for a bit as the guide downloaded pictures from my camera and then we went to the van and decided to drive around to one of the picnic areas for lunch.

The kids in the back of the van waiting and watching over the back bench seat as all the adults changed out of hiking shoes, unloaded back packs off and into the van and so forth.

We drove over to the Canyon picnic area that we'd went to in May and then everyone was able to let down and enjoy a peaceful lunch of PB & J with chips and applesauce.

Grandma and Grandpa eating thier lunch:

AC working on his lunch:

Rei sooooooo happy to be out of harness and able to take it easy and sniff all the interesting smells:

After finishing our lunch, we pulled out the dairy free birthday cupcakes I'd made for AC and his presents from us. We sang Happy Birthday to him, which he really enjoyed as well as the cupcakes, which we all did and was excited to open his presents.

AC grinning from ear to ear as we sang Happy Birthday to him:

The chocolate face of AC:

Rei seriously giving me an evil eye after telling her to "leave it" on the stick that she has. She's like "Woman, I just walked through the entire forest and was sooooo good and you won't let me play with ONE little stick?!!!!!"

AC opening his presents:

So then we load up in the van and head for home- the kids watching the new veggie tales movie that AC had gotten for his birthday. Grandma, Grandpa, Hubby and I are chatting about the day and I pull out the map of the park. I look up the trails we took and Good Golly- Trail #9 was the hardest trail in the park!!! No wonder we were pooped!

We realized that we would never have tried that on our own, so we were proud of ourselves and knowing that we could handle it, but we all agreed that we'd go for a more moderate one in the future. We got home and I think Hubby and I were the ones that took the naps, instead of the kids. LOL!

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