Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mark Twain National Forest Hike

We are full into our fall schedule now. Lex and Eli have both started soccer which means weeknight practices and Saturday morning games (in different locations). Lex is back into piano which means weeknight lesson and many weekend performances. School is busy both for me and the boys. Committee meetings, lesson plans, and paperwork for me. Curriculum night, packed lunches, permission slips, library books for the boys. You know the deal. It's busy. And I love it.

Weekends are great for us because we get to reset as a family. We have lots of downtime, catch up on things at home, and try to get out and do something. Usually hiking. Not always. But usually. 

We've hiked so much around here now that we have a menu of trails from which to choose, depending on our mood, our available time, and our energy. We know where to find long trails, short trails, rugged trails, and grassland trails. We know trails with elevation and flat trails. Trails with river views, creek views, and rolling hill views. We know where to go if you want to swim in a creek. We know where to go if you want to catch crawdads or frogs and we know where to go if you want to most certainly spot a snake. 

And one thing we have learned is that you can have 4 different experiences on a trail if you hike it during 4 different times of the year. That was our experience last week when we returned to one of our favorite trails from this past spring. Same trail, but different views, different vegetation, different experience. The trail is part of the Mark Twain National Forest which spreads all over Missouri. We used the Englewood Road Access close to the Columbia Airport. Although there were 3 other cars in the parking area, we didn't see another soul on the trail. Our favorite kind of hike.

Lex standing at the trail head while we get the backpack ready.

The end of summer flowers. 

It was our first hike in a little while since it's been so hot. We couldn't wait to get to it.

These boys. 

So much yellow everywhere!

This is a very popular swimming spot in the summer. We haven't used it for that purpose, but we almost always see people swimming here when we come. Not on this trip though. 

We did take the short little trail down to the water so we could throw rocks.

And then hiked back up.

And crossed the enchanted bridge to get our hike really started.

Pretty view, huh?

Seventy degrees and sunny made for a perfect hike.

It's a rather rough trail. It's uneven in lots of areas and rocky in others.

Eli found himself a walking stick and used it the whole trail.

I wish I had one of these signs.

Here's the dried up old creek bed you have to cross to get to the actual climb to the top.

More of the creek bed.

The view at the top. This was one of the big differences from the fall. The last time we were here, there were no leaves on the trees and you could see so much more. It was still pretty though.

A family selfie. I love those boys.

We found this log with a notch cut out of it like a step. the boys thought it looked like a rowboat.

More of the view.

And more.

Such a natural trail. I love it.

Eli has such an eye for wildlife. If there is a frog, lizard, or a turtle nearby, Eli can spot it, no matter how much it blends in and no matter how still it is.

On our way back to the car now.

And over the enchanted bridge one more time.

Here's the map view thanks to the Geotracker App. By the way, the stop logo is past the start logo because I forgot to stop the app until after we started driving.

Hiking stats.

And there you have it. Happy hiking! 

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