May 6, 2015

Clark in May

I've worked part time since Frankie was born, initially just 20 hours per week, then increasing over the years to my current four days per week.  On my day off, usually Wednesdays, I drop him off at school at 8:15 am and pick him up again at 11:45 am.  It was a gorgeous day, so after dropping him off, I returned home and went out for a bike ride (12.7 miles).  After showering, I packed a trail lunch, and went to gather the boy.  He is transitioning away from naps, which frees some afternoons up for other pursuits.  We went directly to Clark Reservation.

I knew that the the stairs had been re-opened for the season based on a solo hike the previous Wednesday morning, so included that in the menu of options when asking Frankie which trail he wanted to hike.  He decided he wanted to go down the stairs and up the hill on the other side, so off we went.  He counted the stairs as we descended, then elected to bear right at the bottom, on the Swamp Trail.  I was excited by this choice, as we hadn't been that way in a long time, not since Frankie was riding in the carrier.  The trail is narrow and charming, following the base of the steep, north-facing slope along the rocky shoreline.  I enjoyed the spring wildflowers while Frankie threw rocks in the water.

At the top of the hill, there are three trails to choose from, and I let Frankie pick again.  He selected the Power Line Trail, because he could see it was open out there and thought there might be nice views.  This section has some steep ups and down, and we'd worn long pants, in case the bugs were bad.  It was blazing hot out there.  I explained to Frankie that we could cut back into the woods on either the Pulpit Rock Trail, which was closer, or the Long Trail, which was further.  Mercifully, he selected the quickest shade route, not a safe bet from my little sun lover, and I steered him onto the side of Pulpit Rock that he didn't hike on his last visit.  From there he led the way back to the Cliff Trail and the ever exciting playground.  I was happy enough to let him play after such a great hike, wildflowers and snakes and salamanders, oh my!  This spring is going by too fast. 

Leading the way...
The Swamp Trail.
Smooth white violet (Viola pallens)
Looking upslope.
Throwing rocks in the water.
Miterwort (Mitella diphylla)
Wake robin (Trillium erectum)
American fly-honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis)
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
White trillium (T. grandiflorum)
A seat along the Pulpit Rock Trail.
And then I blinked and it was summer.
Garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
Checking out the snake.  Verdict: "he's smiling."

Long-spurred violet (Viola rostrata)

Scaling the Pulpit Rock.
Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
The Long Trail.
More scrambling.
Glacier Lake
Swamp > Power Line > Pulpit Rock > Long > Cliff

It has occurred to me that we could pretty easily red-line all the trails of Clark Reservation in 2015.  I have done them all before many times (except that east-west section of the Power Line Trail, which isn't depicted on older versions of the map), but Frankie probably hasn't -- at least not under his own power.  Actually, after today, he probably has hiked them all (again, except part of the Power Line Trail), just not within a single calendar year.  However, he absolutely loves maps, and highlighting where we hike might be a fun way to improve his map skills. Hmm...

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