Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Pinnacles

We could not wait to get out of the house yesterday - the first day this winter that the temperature reached over the 60 degree mark. We've watched the weather forecast all week, and after last weekend with the ice storm that wasn't actually an ice storm at all, we could not wait to get outdoors and breathe some fresh air. There was no doubt in our minds that we would spend the day hiking. We waited until the temperature peaked around noon, and then packed up for an adventure at the Pinnacles. 

The Pinnacles are a located just north of Columbia, Missouri in a private park that is open to the public. Exploration and climbing is encouraged. Since it is private property, thus privately funded, there are no trail maps. There are, however, acres of trails to explore. The main feature of the property, the pinnacles, are the main attraction and the back acres of the property are not as traveled as the area around the creek.

When we first pulled up, I was completely bummed. The parking lot was completely packed with cars. If you've read any of my hiking posts, you know that we are primitive trail kind of people. We like it when we don't see anyone on our hikes. Isn't the idea of hiking after all to go be one with nature? I considered suggesting that we travel to our second choice destination - a state park within a 15 minute drive that would like not be nearly as crowded. But the boys were all so excited that we got out of the car and started exploring. You will see other people in nearly every picture.

The "Pinnacles" are limestone rock formations that are 250 million years old - remains from when this area was completely under water. You can look for fossils of sea life in the rocks.

The Rocky Fork Creek and Silver Fork Creek both flow through this area now. 

 Since this was our first time here (and did I mention that there were no trail maps?), we had no idea how to get from our side of the creek to the other side where the pinnacles were begging us to explore.

We played around on our side of the creek for a while just to get the lay of the land a little bit.


This picture was taken right before Eli slipped on the fungus and fell right off the log, scraping his stomach all the way down. Ouch!

We ruled out this particular trail as a way to get across the creek, and headed back to the parking lot to travel in the opposite direction instead.

Every so often, we assessed the creek situation to determine if we could get across. If the decision were up to the boys, we would have just hiked up our pant legs and gone without hesitation. You will soon see that they probably knew what they were talking about.

Here were some on our side of the creek, but they didn't look nearly as daring as the other side.

Our trail ended UNDER this rock formation. It was so awesome, and far more vast than this picture shows.


A summer night and that fire pit would make for a beautiful setting under this ceiling of rock.

 BUT, our mission was still to cross that creek and we were at a dead end, so decided that through the creek was the only way to go.

We found this downed tree which crossed from our side to an island. Looks easy enough, right?

Here we go! Only minor incidents resulting in slightly wet shoes occurred here.

Jeremy decided to test out the way across the river. The water is high and flowing, but it is really, really rocky. This is the way everyone else was crossing too, so there was actually a line of people to get across. Yep. That means there was an audience and thus pressure. But not too much pressure because almost everyone who crossed got a foot in the water. This was the point when I realized how fun it was to have so many other people there. Everyone had the same mission. Get to the pinnacles!

I didn't get pictures of Jeremy and Eli crossing before us, because I was scared to have my phone out, but Jeremy got this picture of us from the other side. Notice the stranger behind us totally putting pressure on us to get across faster. Not really. I didn't even know he was there until I saw the picture. And notice that he is wearing sandals - and has his hands in his pockets, clearly unconcerned with us getting across with dry feet. It doesn't matter if his feet get wet. Go around (she said kindly).

And we made it across with only slightly wet feet (except for Lex who gave up duing the last 3 yards and just stomped through the water.)

And climbing up, up, up we went. It's an easy climb - well marked and notched out with stairstepping stones.

It was at this point when we reigned in the boys a little closer. For the majority of this part of the climb, it was relatively safe - meaning if you fall - you won't go far. But the further we went, the more deadly the drop offs became. So much so that Lex exclaimed loudly (in front of a group of other people, as always), "Are these the cliffs where people come to DIE?" much to the amusement of everyone within earshot.

See the drop off just behind Eli?

It was no time at all before we were at the top of the Pinnacles. The climb did not seem that bad at all, but it was only a short amount of time before I felt the burn in my quads. A beautiful view AND a good workout!

And then it was just a rock climbing playground. There were people everywhere. Sometimes we had to wait to pass. But for the most part, we just climbed around. The boys love an audience and tried to be funny whenever they could.

 There are even places where you can climb down into the rocks.


Jeremy traveled through the pinnacle "cave" to get to this spot on the front side of the pinnacles.

Just a playground of rocks. You can see a shelter house in the distance right beside the parking lot.

The boys absolutely loved every minute and are already begging to go back.

Oh look, there's me! In the cave, attempting to capture the fun on camera.

And there is the peak of the pinnacle. And believe it or not, people crawl right along that edge Eeeek! We did not. Look how far up we are from the creek!

 There's Lex on top of the world, right before he sang, "I believe I can fly!" That happens to be the same song he sang when he ziplined too. His adventuring theme song, apparently.

And here's Eli, feigning fear.

And in a more relaxed state.

The three boys climbing up through the treacherous rock maze.


And then we made it to a great lookout spot, where someone offered to take our family picture.

 And then we climbed around some more. At this point, we were at a spot where a drop off fell off both sides.

Here you can see it better. We are on an absolute ridge.

"Three points of contact," Jeremy told the boys. Good advice, says the mommy trying to take pictures while not falling off the edge of the pinnacles.

 The "piece de resistance" was ahead and Jeremy sneaked up to get a peak. Because of how narrow the rock formation was to get from where we  were to where it was, I vetoed taking the boys any further. The ridge was so narrow and there really wasn't any point in taking unnecessary risks. We decided to come back another day and come in from the other side to hopefully get a better look at the peak of the pinnacles without putting the boys in danger.

So down we came. It was seriously so fun. The whole hike.

Again we had to wait our turn to cross. This time we rolled our pant legs up and didn't care as much about getting our feet wet. The car was less than a five minute hike away.

Most of the people out there appeared to be college students. Eli started telling each one that they "lost a point" every time they slipped into the water. It was so funny.

Back across the log.

Such the obstacle course.

Until we rounded out our hike. It was the best day. We all felt so invigorated and such a rush from the climb. It was so much fun. Wet shoes and all. We can't wait to go back.

Here are the stats of our hike via Geotracker. 

I highly recommend this outing if you're in the area. We will definitely be going back!

Happy hiking!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Broccoli, Potato, and Cheese Soup

I'm addicted to soups during winter. I would eat a big clunky mug of soup every single day for all three meals if I didn't feel obligated to share with my family. We were expecting an ice storm of epic proportions this past weekend, and instead got a glazing of ice, followed by rain, followed by a tiny bit more ice, then rain again. Booooo Mother Nature. I want some snow. So in the middle of the ice storm that wasn't an ice storm at all, we packed up and went to our good friends' house.  Good food, good drinks, good games, and good friends - but a late night it was and the next morning I couldn't wait to get a good pot of soup going so we could be lazy all day and watch the playoffs with some good soup.

Enter this Broccoli, potato and cheese soup. Mmmmmm! Here's what you will need to get at the store. An added bonus - No complicated ingredients!

48 oz. chicken broth (give or take)
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, diced
2 small heads broccoli, chopped into bite sized pieces
4 T butter
1/3 cup flour
3 1/2 cups milk
4 cups shredded cheese
Salt and Pepper
Optional: Bacon

Instructions: In a large pot, pour in chicken broth, then add carrots and potatoes.

 Stir in the onions, then bring it all to a boil.  Simmer on low heat uncovered for 10 minutes.

After the potatoes and carrots have boiled for 10 minutes, stir in broccoli, and simmer another 10 minutes.

 Meanwhile, start a white sauce by melting butter in a separate large saucepan.

 Stir in the flour and whisk until it's well incorporated and a nice golden color - about a minute.

Slowly whisk in milk, and cook for another several minutes until sauce thickens.

 Add cheese and whisk until melted and combined into a nice smooth sauce.

 For the record, this is a nice cheese sauce that you could use with lots of things. It is delicious!

 But in this case, it goes right into the soup mixture to create a rich, cheesy broth.

If you'd like, add chopped bacon as a topping for the soup OR leave it vegetarian. Both options are delicious.

 And that is it! How easy is that - seriously!

Bon Appetit!

I slightly adapted this recipe from who got it from Mel's Kitchen Blog. There. Credit given where credit is due.