April 2, 2017

Three Rivers: Berm Trail North, Short Loop

Erin and I have been wanting to get together for a hike with the boys for a while, but have been repeatedly thwarted by cold rain.  Finally a gorgeous spring day!  Alden recently turned 2 and is quite rapidly abandoning babyhood to join the big kids, an effect only enhanced by his height.  He now enjoys throwing rocks in water, a long-term passion of Frankie's.  Erin and I thought it would be great fun to watch the boys play outside together.  We met at the parking area at the eastern end of Potter Road, and headed east past the gate before turning left up a service road.  We hiked a modified version of the loop described here and mapped in pink here, turning right at the first service road crossing and returning via the berm, making a 1.4 miles loop.  Alden did awesome, hiking almost entirely on his own, with some hugs mixed in here and there.   

This is a great loop for the littles (except maybe all the poison ivy on the berm).  The service roads had many puddles and many rocks, and Alden had the anticipated fun making splashes.  Unfortunately Frankie got emotionally "stuck" in some strange hoarding behavior, wanting to bring every single rock and stick home with us.  He kept stuffing more and more things in his pack, getting frustrated when giant sticks wouldn't fit and evil Mom kept removing the heavy stones.  He could not be reasoned with, so we finally just made a clean break.  We continued hiking, leaving the puddles behind (sorry Alden!), along with a pile of rocks and a stack of sticks.  Frankie was terribly despondent thinking about his poor abandoned treasures.  He finally cheered up again when we were on the Berm Trail, and resumed his typical behavior of throwing all the items in the channel.

At the end of the hike, Frankie got in the car and immediately begged to take his hiking boots off, which is unusual.  These were hiking boots we got last year, and he has apparently outgrown them.  First thing after he went to bed tonight, I ordered a larger replacement pair.  I feel so bad about the poor kid wearing those tiny boots; comfortable gear is such a huge priority for happy kids outside.  I can't help but wonder if his discomfort contributed to the unreasonable behavior. 

After Erin and Alden left, I drove part way up the service road and Frankie and I retrieved the cache of sticks and rocks.  We loaded them in the trunk of the car.  He was very happy to get them back (and then to take his boots off again).  And we talked... we talked about how going back for stashes isn't possible most places, so we wouldn't be doing it regularly.  We discussed examples: if he found a lot of nice rocks by the river at Great Bear, we would not be able to drive down to load them in the car; same thing at Beaver Lake, and Clark Reservation, etc.  He seemed to understand this.  And while carrying the rocks even the short distance back to the car, Frankie came to understand why it wouldn't have worked to carry them for the entire hike.  Because it turns out rocks are really heavy... who knew?    

Next time maybe we'll leave his backpack home.  I want him to be able to enjoy just being in the woods, and not be so fixated on what we can bring home. 

photo by Erin

photo by Erin

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