What began as a Fall Family Hike post has conspicuously turned into a Food post. Taking young children and Mother Nature into consideration, "go with the flow" is always a good attitude to keep in your back pocket for a day on the trails.
Hiking always requires food and with a 3yo and a 1yo in the picture, we need to have lots of options. Monkey and I whipped up some whole wheat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies the day before our hike. We made sure to taste-test them freely. You know, so we don't poison ourselves and drop dead on the trail. After eating a quarter of the batch we deemed them trail worthy.
The next morning it's time to get moving We live in Kentucky and love Red River Gorge, but today we're going to Natural Bridge. The weather map shows rain. The thing is, we've hardly had rain in the past month, and when rain is predicted, it's mostly been a pop-up storm or heavy cloud cover without much to-do. Reading "60% chance of rain showers" means that it could rain all day or it could sprinkle and then just give us the stink eye. So we forge ahead.
First I pack food while Jake prints the map and does whatever dads do while moms do everything else. [Edit: This is Jake. I dressed both kids.] We're eating breakfast at home, which leaves morning snacks, lunch and intermediate snacking needs.
- 2 lunchmeat sandwiches (for adults)
- 1 PBJ sandwich (for kiddos to split)
- 2 packs of cheese & crackers
- 2 granola bars
- 1 cereal bar (easier for 1yo to bite)
- baggie full of those Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies we made yesterday
- 3 apples
- baggie full of chopped peach (for 1yo)
- 4 water bottles
All of this goes inside a thin lunch bag so it won't crush in the backpack, and then I add a small First Aid kid, rain gear and the camera. Diapers and wipes go in the zippered pocket of the kid carrier pack.
And we're off! The drive to Natural Bridge takes about 45 minutes, and we watch the stratus clouds along the way.
We get to the trail head, go to the potty and have a quick snack. Cheetah Boy is buckled into the baby hiking pack and placed on Jake's back and I have the supplies pack--which I think may have weighed more than the kid pack but we didn't actually try the scales.
Monkey is walking on his own, and this is where "go with the flow" begins to come into play. Life doesn't change much when you hike with a packed baby, but hiking with a 3yo who dawdles and wants to turn every stick into a fire thrower...well it's a different chapter in our life.
So we take about 2 steps in the parking lot and are stopped by a very mad Monkey who doesn't have a walking stick. Daddy and Mama have walking sticks and "I want a walking stick!" The idea of handing him a pointy stick from the woods wasn't very appealing, so I telescoped one of my poles down and handed it to him.
Ok now we're for REAL going hiking. Dum-dee-dum, what a nice hike. It's obviously rained before we started that morning and the rocks are slick. Still hiking. We've walked half a mile! And now it's raining. We keep hiking. Up, up, up into thinner tree cover where the rain is really coming down now. I put Monkey's dragon raincoat on him, so now he's a Dragon. Cheetah Boy has a hat and is mostly protected by the pack but he's Not Happy. Jake and I don't care about getting wet and decide to forgo our hot rain gear.
It rains harder during our raincoat stop. Faced with over 3 miles of round-trip hiking (which indeed is an eternity with little kid legs trying to keep up), we decide to turn back to the car. If it was just us grown-ups it wouldn't have been an issue. There wasn't any lightning and it seemed like it wasn't an all-day rain. But with a 3yo slipping around and a crying baby it just wasn't worth turning a nice family hike into a scream-fest. Like, "Keep walking, soldier! We will summit this trail, dammit!" No thanks.
Going downhill with slippery rocks and mud isn't much fun while holding hands with Monkey-Dragon, but we make it. In fact, we make it back just in time for the rain to let up. We decide to eat lunch.
And then we drive home. As I lay Cheetah Boy in his crib for a nap, I notice the sun peeking out from the clouds.
Ah well, at least there's time to make my first soup of the fall season: Baked potato soup in a bread bowl. There's nuthin' like a barely-hike followed by a flour-and-milk-based soup *with bacon* to make your body feel ALIVE!