Lime Kiln Trail, Henry Cowell Redwoods – Fall Creek Unit
We are finally, finally becoming adventurers. It’s been a long arch for us, waiting and waiting for babies to grow and fussy car riders to calm down and legs to lengthen and strengthen. There are lots and lots of half mile “hikes” in our family history. There were many dreams and much inspiration that kept drawing us back towards the idea of being a family that hikes and camps and is outside. In nature.
Forest of Nisene Marks – Porter Family Picnic Area
This summer we have completed, for the most part, the process (and expediture) of outfitting ourselves for hiking and camping. All the strenuous decisions are made, no more nitpicking over the specifications of tents and sleeping bags. Sadly, not so many trips to REI. I love that place.
I’ve got my awesome camping list streamlined and at the ready, my supplies organized. Getting ready for the trip we took last week to Monterey was a breeze.
Except for the clothes. It’s colder up there (which means digging into all the kids upcoming winter clothes), and we were camping (dirty), staying with friends (clean), and going to a wedding (fancy). The clothes kinda stressed me out.
We camped for two days at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Highly recommend. We had camped at Big Basin Redwoods State Park earlier in the summer, literally pitching our tent under the redwoods. (Also highly recommend. It’s the redwoods, what more can I say?) At Henry Cowell you camp under oaks, but a short hike takes you through redwoods.
We made an important decision this summer – that we will bypass visitor’s centers and touristy walks and tours and go straight to the real thing. It’s more important to make a real connection with the place itself than to get a general overview. We will choose a state park over a museum. We will choose a hike or an hour by a creek over a visitors center.
This decision was made primarily with the kids in mind and the kind of experience we are hoping they have, but I can’t tell you how much it has changed my own experience and connection to the places we’ve visited.
That being said, we did visit the Henry Cowell visitor’s center (after a long hike, haha), and it was one of the best we’ve been to. It looks humble, but there were so many hands on activities. Things that we had seen on our hikes that day were there to be identified and explained and touched.
This trip we turned a corner in our hiking experience. On the advice of a ranger, we took two hikes and the redwood walk. When I tallied it up at the end of our trip, we had hiked almost 7 miles in two days.
Let us now pause for some exclamation points. !!!!!
And it was done with pleasure and joy . On the last hike, the kids ran most of the way in and most of the way back.
<Cue swelling music.>
I’m not so keen on increasing “mileage” for the sake of saying “ooh, we hiked seven miles” or for endurance sake. Above all else, we believe these adventures should be pleasant. But there are so many cool things to see if you can hike a bit farther, so I’m stoked.
The weekend was spent with my good college friends, Aimee and Kristian, and their two little girls. I realized that this was the first time we had ever descended on someone as a family of six (the last time we stayed with anyone other than our parents was when we were a family of three). The welcome we received and the time we spent together with our little families was so, so, heartening. (Good word, Aimee, it describes it perfectly.)
I guess I’m getting old enough now to have “old friends”, friends with whom I’ve shared a significant amount of history. It’s just lovely.
I’m already scoping out our calendar and seeing if we could maybe go camping once a month this year. It looks possible.
I’m especially eager to try “dispersed camping” – camping by the side of the road, as is allowed in National Forests.