Saturday, May 11, 2024

East Palisades Trail

Feeling like we haven't gone on a family adventure in ages, we decided last night that we'd go for a hike today. Miriam suggested hiking to see the bamboo grove at East Palisades Trail, so that's what we did. 

Here's everyone at the trailhead:


We were so lucky to find a parking spot. The lot was packed and people were parking all along the sides of the road (where it warns drivers they'll be fined and towed if they park there). But as we were hopelessly driving to the end of the parking lot (so we could turn around), a car in the very last spot backed out to leave, so instead of turning around we quickly pulled into the space they'd left.

It was perfect!

We got Phoebe into the backpack, forgetting to tighten the straps that say "IMPORTANT: TIGHTEN BEFORE USE" or something ominous like that. She was swinging precariously around in the backpack and Andrew kept being thrown off balance every time she shifted her weight...and then we finally figured out what was going on. 

You can see in this picture how far away she is from, all that black space between her and him? It shouldn't be there.

As it turns out, it's important to tighten those straps.

So we got things tightened up and everyone felt a lot safer. 

That picture above is actually from the end of the hike (middle of the hike? turn around point in the hike?) when we put her back into the backpack to go home, but it's a lovely "opposite" picture from the one above, so I'm going to leave it here anyway.

The view from this little lookout was quite phenomenal:

There was an older couple who we'd run into a few minutes before at one of the maps along the trail. They also stopped at this lookout area and were gawking over how many kids we had with us. When we met up with them again at a different map along the trail we spent a few minutes chatting about where we'd come from (this trail over here) and where they'd come from (that trail over there) and where that meant the parking lot was located (probably the other trail that none of us had yet taken). So the couple set off down that trail and then the woman suddenly turned around and hurried back so she was within shouting distance.

"Oh! And we meant wish you a happy Mother's Day!" she shouted. "AND HOW!!!"

Because, you see, of all these many (beautiful) children. 

I returned a hollered salutation and we went on our way. 

From my observations, southerners take Mother's Day much more seriously than I recall it ever being taken in the west. 

But just look at these beautiful children:

And me, because I was there, too:

Here are the boys up on the ledge:

And here we are back on the trail:

Alexander was my little hiking buddy, so there are many pictures of him.

He wanted to walk on every fallen log, hop across every stream as many times as possible, and in general had a fabulous time exploring everything.

Benjamin was also excited to sit for many pictures.

Zoë, Miriam, Daddy, and Phoebe were usually way up in front. And Rachel wasn't super into having her picture taken either. If you look closely you might spot Zoë in the picture below:

Here's Phoebe, Daddy, Rachel, Miriam, and Alexander in the same spot:

Benjamin found several American giant millipedes:

They're fairly giant:

And also pretty harmless...

Just a little tickle-y...

There were many downed trees along the path (and, in fact, that's such a common thing around here that the homeschool hiking groups I...never seem to meet up with because...I don't...but, anyway, the homeschool hiking groups I'm in communication with typically cancel hikes on very wet days because they don't want to have a group of kids on a path when a tree bites the dust). 

We went over, under, and through many, many trees (ducking under, stepping over, or walking right through a tree that had been cut apart to free up the path again). Phoebe loved it because she likes singing "Over, Under, Around and Through" from Sesame Street. I don't really know any of the words beyond "over, under, and through," so neither does Phoebe, but that's okay.

This part of the path was particularly difficult—it was a steep slope and we had to be watching carefully for where to step:

But we made it through without any twisted ankles:

Let's's Zoë way up 

We've been trying to see the northern lights the past couple of nights to no avail. Apparently someone just a street over from us saw them (and posted pictures on facebook), but we rushed right out and saw nothing. Of course, our neighbourhood is blessed with such a full canopy that it's really no wonder. 

I mean, I appreciate a good canopy:

But it does make it difficult to view the stars and things. are the boys in an old tree:

And here we are turning around and heading back the way we came (over all those tricky roots) because we were alerted to the fact that we were heading toward the parking lot again rather than the bamboo forest:

We had a brief debate about whether we should just go home and come back another time, but I insisted that push forward and fulfill the original goal of our adventure—to see the bamboo forest. So that's what we did.

We live in a very beautiful place. 

It has its downsides, but there is no denying that it can be very beautiful. 

That said, I offer another downside...and that is that I feel like we have to keep Phoebe strapped into a hiking backpack. I see pictures of my brother taking his daughter out walking and she'll just walk along and everything is fine. But I can't do that with my toddler. There is so much poison ivy along the trails and that child has no self control when it comes to yanking on leaves. So she rides in the backpack so we can control her.

She'd love to get out and hike on her own two feet, but the level of vigilance we'd have to muster to keep her safe while hiking is...absurd. So she's usually just in the backpack. 

Here she is out for a little creek exploration though:

Here are Rachel and Miriam doing some creek exploration of their own:

Here are the boys on another downed tree (you can see Andrew hiking ahead in the distance, with Phoebe back on his back):

There's an old stone foundation near the bamboo grove.

From there it's just a little ways longer, across a rickety bridge...

...and through a very narrow path right by the river, which was very muddy today (and perhaps always, given its proximity to the river).

There were some beautiful rock formations (that we should have attempted to visit while Rachel was taking her geology course (we are always on the look out for good rocks now)):

And then suddenly—we found ourselves standing in a bamboo forest:

Now, there is a kind of bamboo that is native to our area, but I don't think that was the kind of bamboo growing here. I'm not really sure why it's here, but it's really quite an interesting landscape to suddenly find yourself in.

I think bamboo is rather fun to climb.

I have always enjoyed climbing. 

When I was little I was always shinnying up anything that was bordering on vertical—poles at the playground, ropes at the gym, swing set supports, flagpoles, even the very chains holding the swings. I don't ever remember not being able to climb...but for some reason none of my kids like to climb like I do.

We probably need to head to the ropes course more to practice.

Here are some of them giving it their best shot:

Or, you shot:

Here are a few more pictures of our time in the bamboo forest:

And here is our thoroughly famished family, excited to finally be heading to the parking lot so we can find our lunch. We arrived at the park at 12:15 and hiked until around 3:00 (covering about four miles of trail):

Benjamin was not too hungry to do a little scrambling:

Here are Alexander and Phoebe looking so cute while eating their sandwiches together:

Don't they look sweet? I thought so, too, until I got a little closer and realized that Phoebe wasn't snuggling Alexander at all. She was pushing against him while muttering things like, "Get off of this rock! Me not want to share with you! This is my rock! Go sit somewhere else!"

And he was muttering things back like, "Stop it. No, you go away. Find your own rock."

So a little less cute than it appears. 

And here are our other picnicking partners:

Miriam and I were the only ones left standing. Everyone else found a rock to share (whether nicely or not-so-nicely). But it was only a quick lunch and then we headed home so the girls could get ready for the fire night they hosted this evening.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite climbing story about you will always be that time at cub scouts, when you were maybe 7 or 8 years old, and after Dyb, Dyb, Dyb, Dob, Dob, Dob was over, some of the boys were trying to climb the rope in the gym while Jackie was cleaning up, and none of them could do it, so they started running around, and then you quietly went over and zip, zip, zip, all the way up the rope to the top, and the boys who hadn't been able to do it noticed, and their mouths were all hanging open in shock and disbelief. It was the best!!!

    Also, the sweet pictures of A and P, and then what they were actually saying--hahahahahaha!!