November 21, 2015

Three Meadows Trail, Beaver Lake

This was another hike that Erin planned, and I was excited by her trail selection.  As I've mentioned before, there has been a lot of repetition in our hikes at Beaver Lake ever since Frankie became communicative.  He just loves the boardwalk so much it's hard to steer him away from the Bog Trail.  But the other trails are nice, too, and with hunting season still open, the nature center is always a safe bet.  So off we went.  The Three Meadows Trail is varied in scenery, passing through pines and hardwoods, and as the name implies, several lovely meadows. 

A highlight of this hike for Frankie was finding some mature puffballs.  He was a little skeptical at first, but really got into them, first squeezing and then stomping a never-ending cloud of spores.  Nature is just so cool!  Alden slept through all the excitement, but such is the way of the wee.  A little further along, Frankie got a little whiny, complaining that it was too long a hike.  I knew that wasn't true - the entire loop is only 1.5 miles, and he's happily gone much further on many other hikes.  He had snacks and water and was dressed appropriately, so I knew he was physically comfortable.

However, he has lodged similar complaints before, so I've been thinking about this issue a lot.  Obviously, I want him to enjoy our hikes and not feel like I'm dragging him out on forced marches through the woods.  It seems like he struggles more when we hike with other people.  When it's just the two of us, he is the center of attention; when we hike with other people, I talk to them, too.  Also to him, of course, but the dynamic is different - it's not all about him.  Is Frankie's frustration because he likes being the center of attention?  Because he feels left out of the adult conversations?  He is an only child, but everything can't and won't always revolve around him.  Unfortunately, I am not even 100% sure I have correctly identified the problem, which makes it trickier to solve.  He is a very social creature, and reacts with unabashed joy whenever I tell him we'll be hiking with other people.  How do I help him this get through this?           

white pine (Pinus strobus)

Trying to hug out the whines

Singing this song also helped a lot

staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

Giving Alden a hug goodbye
Download trail map here or here.

November 15, 2015

Clark in November

On Friday night, I told Frankie I wanted him to check the weather forecast and decide which day this weekend would have better weather for a hike.  This kid has always been obsessed with the weather, checking the 10-day forecasts not just for our area, but for distant places he's traveled.  Place names bookmarked in the weather app became some of his first sight words.  He makes up different weather forecasts for his various toys and imaginary worlds (bunny world, spaceship world, train land).  And he's just recently started writing up and illustrating his own weather forecasts.  Given all that, I suspected he would enjoy this assignment enormously, and he rose to the task, taking his new responsibility quite seriously.  First thing Saturday morning, he scrolled through the hourly forecasts for both days and determined today would be best.

He also decided he wanted to go to Clark Reservation.  Even though we were just there a few weeks ago with my Mom (and I was, in fact, there for work Friday morning), I agreed.  It is such a special and interesting place.  Plus, hunting season is currently open, so parks and other locales where hunting is not allowed become preferred destinations.  We got a late start, but Clark is super close and we know the trails inside out, so it didn't matter.  We set out along the Cliff Trail, then took the Long Trail to the second intersection with the Pulpit Rock Trail, which we followed the whole length back, crossing kitty-corner over the Long Trail to the Switchback Trail (which Frankie is strangely obsessed with and drove the wanderings of this hike).  At the end of the Switchback Trail, we turned left on the Big Buck Trail, then a quick right on the Dry Lake Trail, which we took back to the parking area.

I have never seen that playground so crowded, a lot of families trying to squeeze in some outdoor time during this exceptionally mild fall, I guess.  Frankie was a little overwhelmed after the peace in the woods, so we didn't stay for too much madness, which left lots of time for milkshakes on the way home.  Notch 8 Cafe has quickly become a favorite post hike destination.  They make all the gelatos in house, in small batches of widely varying and delicious flavors.  Frankie sticks with strawberry when it's available, but I like to mix it up.  This fall they've been featuring a New York Maple that is amazing!        

rattlesnake-root (Prenanthes sp.)

Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Frankie thought it would be funny to sneak into my flower picture
He doesn't always cooperate for photos

hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)