Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Hike In The Woods To The Beach

We went to the Lake House for the holiday weekend.  Memorial weekend is always a toss up of how the weather will fall out.  Sometimes it's hot and sunny and we can go swimming in the icy cold waters of Lake Michigan.  Some years it's cold and rainy and we wonder why we even bothered leaving home.  And then there are the years like this one where the weather is crisp but sunny.  Perfect outdoor weather.

As swimming was out of the question this weekend, we turned to other vacation pursuits.  Saturday we went hiking.  About eighteen months ago we hiked the trail we did this weekend, except it was covered in snow.  And we ended up having to carry Joy for part of the time because she couldn't make it the entire way on her own steam.  Hubby and I were expecting a repeat.  But, because we are all in training for our big summer trip to the Smoky Mountains, hiking we went.

I am sad to say that we did not see any wildlife on our hike.  While my children are turning into excellent hikers, they are still working on the whole quiet part.  They scared away every creature within a mile radius of our path.

On top of the world...or just a sand dune

Our hike's first stop was an overlook situated at the top of a sand dune with a panoramic view of Lake Michigan.  We watched the seagulls swooping down to the water.  We saw a few boats way in the distance.  And then we decided to hike the entire loop rather than turn back the way we came like we did last time.  A short walk through the woods brought us to a long staircase down to the bottom of the dune and out to the beach.  The kids got their first visit to the shore of the season.  Joy and Lizzy splashed their hands in the water while David looked for shells and rocks to throw into the waves.

And then began the yucky part of our hike...back up the stairs, down the short dune and then back up over the tall dune.

This is when Hubby and I realized our mistake.  For the past few months we have been taking walks with the kids to get in shape for our trip so that we could go on longer hikes in the mountains.  We missed the fact that we live in flat suburbia.  Walking three miles on flat, paved sidewalks is not the same thing-at all-as trudging up a sand dune or a mountain.  We made it to the top and back to our car, but the girls were huffing and puffing and contemplating taking up permanent residence right there on the side of the dune.

Playing on the beach

On our way home from the Lake House, Hubby and I got to talking about our hiking experience.  While taking the kids on walks through the neighborhood and at the local nature preserve are good things to do to build up endurance, they are not enough for real mountain hiking.  Where could we find a place to hike that has hills??

We have an elliptical machine that lets you set the tension, but not the incline.  No good.  We could have the kids walk up and down the small hill in our neighborhood over and over, but would that really be effective enough?  We could run the bleachers at the local high school football stadium.  Or we could find a really hilly road in our area and drive there, park, and then walk the hills.  Hubby and I are resourceful people; we will figure something out.

I'm glad we went for our hike because it made us realize we have more work to do.  Our kids did great on our 2.5 mile hike, so our training has helped.  Just a few short months ago our girls were one big bundle of whine just walking a mile through our neighborhood.  With a little (or a lot of) hill training, we will be all set to take on the mountains.

Because there is waterfall in the Smoky Mountains National Park with my name on it and I intend to hike to it to show my kids the spot where I was standing knee deep in the pool at the bottom of the falls when my father said, "Back up a little more, Lisa, so I can get a better picture," and with one step back I was suddenly in water over my head.  Yup, we are definitely going this time, I am going to make my dad stand in the water while I take the picture.  "Back up just a little more, Dad..."

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