Frankie had never been on the Pine Meadow Trail before, so we headed there first. It is a very short loop through red and Scots pines planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps, around a small meadow. A very pleasant walk, but no dramatic scenery. It didn't take long to make the circuit, even with stops to draw in the snow and swing on a grapevine.
After we completed the Pine Meadow, we headed over to the Hemlock Hollow Trail, another short loop that provides access to the Bog Trail. Of all the trails at Beaver Lake Nature Center, this is the one Frankie knows best. He was so obsessed with it for a few years he refused to walk anything else. It is nice to have more variety now, but the Bog Trail is no booby prize. He loves it because it's awesome! Boardwalks are fun for all ages. After stopping at the observation tower, we went out to the very tip of the island, then retraced our path back to the junction to follow the other half of the loop out.
There is a very tiny pool just past the intersection, frozen over of course, like the lake. We had a long pause here for Frankie to throw snowballs onto the ice, and soon another mother-child duo came along. The little girl was exactly Frankie's age, another kindergartner, and they bonded immediately over the joy of throwing snow. We ended up hiking all the way back to the Nature Center with them, and the kids hugged goodbye before our new friends rushed off to a previous engagement. Because they were in a hurry, we walked back on the same part of the Hemlock Hollow we'd walked in on (blasphemy!) but the kids were having so much fun together, I didn't want to make a stink about peeling off in a different direction just to get an extra tenth of a mile. Fun is good.
Of course we had to go inside the nature center after the walk, so Frankie could play in the kids room. I picked up a Walk A Hundred Miles at Beaver Lake log book for him so we can track his miles, and showed him the big book of finishers. He thought it was cool that my Mom and I had already done 200 miles each, and that Erin has done 300. It will be fun to go through and seed his log book with hikes he's already completed, based on posts here and the records in my log book (incomplete though it may be). That's legitimate, right? I don't want to "cheat" and I certainly wouldn't give him credit for any hikes that weren't well documented. It just seems like it might be more fun for him not to start right at zero. Six-year-olds have pretty acute senses of justice, after all. If he thinks he's being cheated, it won't be as fun for him.
|airborne snow - they were aiming for the stick in the middle|
|Frankie following his new friend|