I completely forgot, when planning our itinerary, that all state parks are closed on Monday. We were due to arrive at Carolina Beach a little earlier than our check-in time, so I suggested that we just head straight to Fort Fisher and do some exploring there before heading to the campground.But when I searched for the address, Google informed me that it was closed today.
So instead we went straight to the campground and managed to check in a little early (even if we hadn't we still could have gone hiking, but it was nice to get to unload half the van before hiking).
We decided on the Flytrap Trail. "A pleasant, wheelchair-accessible, half-mile loop through pocosin wetlands and drier longleaf pine and wiregrass savanna communities" sounded about perfect for our two-year-old.
Here's everybody on a boardwalk going over part of the pocosin (which I'd more naturally refer to simply as a bog):
And here's a shot of the bog itself:
The kids were a little worried about alligators, but Andrew told them to just relax—we weren't going to be seeing any alligators out here...
"Uhhhh...this is exactly where we could be seeing alligators," I said. "So make sure to stay on the boardwalk, please, and do keep an eye out."
I don't want to scare my children (necessarily) but alligators are a real worry out here. Our friend Suzanne was on this very hike the day before us (we should have aligned our schedules better!) and though she didn't see an alligator here she did see one in the marina!
|Suzanne's picture of the gator in the marina (which is very, very close to where we were hiking, btw)|
Rachel was a champ and carried a backpack with water and other supplies the whole way:
Here's Benjamin with a longleaf pine seedling that was just his size:
There was a "prescribed burn" in the park in February, so the different between the pocosin wetlands and the charcoal background of the "drier" forest/savanna was rather stark.
The kids were impressed by the size of the pinecones:
Zoë did a little tree hugging:
|Andrew's saying, "Awww..."|
We did our best to find a wild venus flytrap. They're a threatened species and are only found in the eastern Carolinas (right around Wilmington, where we are). There are actually venus flytrap poachers who come out to hunt for wild flytraps to sell on the black market (it's illegal to take a plant from the wild...obviously...otherwise it wouldn't be poaching).
We were unsuccessful, though a local hiker saw us leaning over the boardwalk and offered to show us a patch of venus flytraps that she'd just happened upon (they can be difficult to spot).
She's actually the reason we knew we hadn't found a flytrap after all. We figured that maybe this was a baby flytrap...maybe...
"Oh, that's a sundew!" she said. "But there are some flytraps just over here. I went for years without seeing any but I'm pretty good at spotting them now!"
It was kind of cool to see them out in the wild. They seem so exotic that it's weird to have them...here. But I guess the south is a jungle of its own right. You should see our backyard (boy, do we need to mow)!
Here's everyone with the flytraps:
Evidently they depend on forest fires to literally kill off their competition. Venus flytraps grow back with a vengeance after a burn (which I suppose is one of the reasons for the controlled burn in the park recently).
Zoë was able to wiggle out of Andrew's grasp while we were admiring the flytraps, so she was my buddy for the rest of the hike.
She wanted to pick up everything, which I told her was fine as long as everything stayed in the park when we left.
She stuck this little pinecone in her mouth and then declared it "ucka."
We really got slowed down at this part because the big kids were hopping along the tree cookie path and Zoë wanted to follow their example. She's not very good at hopping yet, though...
When she got left so far behind that she no longer cared about trying to keep up, she began collecting things again, stopping every few steps to pick up something new.
Here she is taking a break to hit some dead grass with a stick (because why not?); I asked her to smile for me and instead she pulled this face and said, "Uh-uh!" Not that she's a contrary soul at all.
Here we are altogether on a stretch of boardwalk:
And here are the kids sitting in a tree they thought was cool:
And a second picture, just because I like the way Zoë is looking up at Rachel (she loves her big sister):
Here's Andrew trying one last time to convince Zoë that she wants some daddy time; she's not having it:
On the way back to our cabin, Andrew dropped me and the kids off at the "Kids in the Park Trail." He would have done it with us but it's not a loop, so we would have had a wolf, goat, cabbage situation (simply put: someone would have had to walk back to get the car and no one really wanted to do that because we also wanted to get dinner started).
Here's Zoë complaining about something (the water was either cold or yucky...I can't remember which):
We enjoyed looking over Snow's Cut Intercoastal Waterway (and out into the Cape Fear River)...until a boat went by while we were standing on the bank and when the wake started rolling up onto the shore, the kids all got spooked and scrambled up to safety.
Here are the kids on the trail:
The hike itself was relatively easy, though we did start to get worried about it beginning to rain on us. Zoë hiked for a little while and then asked to be picked up. I guess we wore her out today.
We made it back to the cabin, where we found Daddy busily boiling water for dinner (we had spaghetti and green beans, with tomato sauce (to make the kids cry (because dinner isn't dinner unless someone is crying))).
I'm glad we got those couple of hikes in. We might manage to fit a few more in while we're here because all the hikes are relatively short and easy...but we're also kind of beach bums, so...we might not...