This morning we headed out early for a trip to Daniel Boone National Forest, about an hour-and-a-half from our house. Poor Sydney: he planned and gave us all lots of advance notice, and we were out the door by 7:15, but as we were winding our way through the forest during the last ten minutes of our drive we realized that Nathaniel had left his shoes at home. Sydney had told him to put on his shoes and get in the car, and Nathaniel only did the second part. Sigh.
So we resigned ourselves to some whining and extra hurdles, but we decided to push on, and we tackled two hikes, one 2 miles long and the other 1 mile long. The first was beautiful. And this coming from someone who lived in Ithaca! The great beauty helped us make clear even to the kids why it is worth heading out on hikes. We saw numerous interesting rock structures, and we stopped at this one so that the kids could sit in what appeared to be a natural child’s seat, carved out in the stone wall. Nathaniel has no shoes, and Katherine has her pants on backwards (why, child?), but otherwise we’re in decent shape. We followed tumbling streams, saw lots of caves, and even waded across a stream (so cold!) to get to the sandy beach below. By this point, we were all sandy, we’d all removed our shoes, and Nathaniel was only marginally more of a mess than the rest of us. But it was a lot of fun. There were a lot of people out today, with cars parked haphazardly along the roads, but things were still incredibly quiet everywhere we went. And it was amusing watching groups of a variety of ages and numbers tackle the stream-crossing. Since the rocks were very slippery, usually one in a party got a wet backside; Katherine was our family’s contribution, and it took a while for her to forget about her wet pants.
With Nathaniel riding on my shoulders for half the hike (ugh, this kid is like a sack of potatoes), I didn’t get to charge ahead or look up at the rich forest very often. But we did see a lot more things that are at kid-level.
Halfway into our second hike, along the spine of a hilltop, we found ourselves facing this:
We quickly grabbed the kids’ hands and inched our way across, and it was breathtaking. Both kids were amazed at the smooth rock underneath their feet (by this point Katherine had voluntarily removed her shoes in solidarity with Nathaniel), and by their unobstructed view of the valley on both sides of the bridge. And no, in case you are wondering, there isn’t a guard rail to be seen, and the drop is precipitous, as you can see from the view we had below, once we’d worked our way underneath the bridge (the kids and I are sitting on a rock in the bottom left corner, to give you a sense of scale).
Although the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, where we live, has natural beauty of its own, the fierce, steep, wooded terrain of this area felt more like home to us, and I know we’ll be going again very soon. Next time with shoes.