Camping Monte Sano

This past weekend we rented a camper and headed out to spend the evening at one of our favorite local parks. In high allergy season, B wanted to take the boys camping, but sleeping out in a tent would lead to lots of allergy issues for everybody. As a compromise, B rented a trailer. We headed out with a very simple plan, hike a bit, make hot dogs and s’mores, and play Go Fish. Monte Sano has a multitude of trails, and although we have hiked many of them, we haven’t yet hiked them all. We did a portion of the fire tower trail and blue trail to take a tour of the camp ground areas:

And we also cut through the Japanese Gardens:

This is definitely one of the gems of Monte Sano, we love this spot:

And the bamboo forrest:

I think one of the boys’ favorite things from the trip was all of the deer. We saw several, including a fawn (that I couldn’t capture a picture of), but I did get this one:

Although it’s still pretty hot here, the abundant tree cover on these trails keeps it much cooler:

We had a fun time and the boys are already talking about the next time we go!

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Fire Tower Trail

This is an easy incline trail on Monte Sano that we have connected through several times, but we’ve never done the entire trail on its own. Over Spring Break we headed up one afternoon to hike the trail, and roast hot dogs and marshmallows back at the State Park when we were finished. The trail is about 2.4 miles (that’s round trip), and as I said it’s a fairly easy hike. At the end of the trail (before you walk back out) is the impressive fire tower, that was used for spotters to look for fires, way back in the day. Unfortunately, we couldn’t walk all the way up because someone had graffitied inappropriate symbols all over the bunkers surrounding it. Luckily, B noticed that before the boys did and turned them around to head back out. Overall, it was a fun hike and a great way to spend the day with the boys!

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Weekend hike

We took a weekend hike and it was filled with butterflies! This was our local nature preserve, about a half mile walk to it, about a mile until we hit an impass, and then a mile back out. It was a great easy hike and close to home, too!

Look at our friendly hitchhikers!

J brought his notepad and pen to take notes on what he saw…

There was quite an active stream…

 

And my favorite part of our hikes is listening to the boys’ conversations:

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Natural well trail

B and I recently headed out on our last hike before fall that’s just the two of us. During the summer we hike with the boys, but there are some trails they can’t do, or that we want to test out before taking them on it. The natural well trail, across from Burritt on Mountain in Huntsville, is at least 4.5 miles round trip. I say at least because we didn’t go all the way to the end. It got too hazardous and over grown at one point and we ended up heading back.

The trail begins fairly smooth…

But about 1/2 mile in, we began having to climb over and under fallen trees, and make our way around streams and various little wildlife.

 

The main attraction of the hike is a large natural well, as the name indicates:

It was very cool to see, and we’d also heard that there was a waterfall further down. So, after more climbing and encountering a snake and bees, we reached the waterfall:

Not as cool as the well. But there were two unusual rock stacks:

So there’s that. We were moving so quickly downhill, that when we started back up, we didn’t realize how strenuous it would be. It definitely is NOT a kid friendly hike (at least not age 10 and under), but I would recommend it if you’re a middle of the road hiker, and if you have better hiking shoes than I did. After slipping twice climbing over trees, B said he’s buying me real hiking shoes!

Happy hiking!

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Blevins gap nature preserve

After J did well hiking the Keel Mountain Preserve, we decided to test out the Blevins Gap Nature Preserve. This trail has a significant amount of elevation, and is about two hours round trip. It is quite shaded, which was nice, and has a spectacular view of our city at the top.

The beginning of the trail is sunny and open…

But a few minutes in…

You can see a difference! Much shadier. After awhile on a straight path, we started heading up the incline:

And found a cave along the way:

And after awhile we finally reached the top:

Gorgeous view at the top of the rock!

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Stone cut trail on Monte Sano

As I previewed on Friday, B and I hiked a pretty significant trail this past Friday. Close to 3.5 miles, with climbing and caves, in fog and sporadic rain, and some awesome views the stone cut trail is no joke.

We climbed through spider webs…

Sloshed through mud…

Entered caves…


We found a little snail:

And some fallen trees that looked like they were still falling…

And enjoyed a foggy, but peaceful landscape at the end:

Well, I thought this was the end. Forty minutes later we were actually back to the truck. Ha!

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Friday Favorites

B and I took a long hike Friday morning, our first since the boys headed back to school. I have more pictures to share, but this one that B took of me is one of my favorites. Isn’t it nice to stop and breathe for a minute? God is great, y’all. You just have to stop sometimes and pay attention.

This picture of Echo Park reminds me of driving through California.

Indian butter chicken sounds so warm and inviting, like the last days of summer.

Lipstick primer I need pronto for work.

Creating a gratitude journal.

Tundra in our study? I’m headed to find a paint sample.

Seeing the biggest dinosaur ever is on my family bucket list for the boys.

And when we head to New York to see the biggest dinosaur, we’re going to 375 Fries for dinner.

Four Ted Talks to share with my students about moving out of ideological comfort zones.

On taking your kids on trips even if they don’t jump and down with gratitude.

And finally, advice for high school success. Saving this, I’ll need it in about six years!

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Navigating the bike trail

Same creek, same trail, what’s new?

All the boys biked the trail!

I ran behind so that I could stop with J when he paused to look at sticks, butterflies, and bunnies:

We only went as far as the creek because that’s about J’s limit (plus it was fairly hot even though there was shade):

The boys did great! And after we had lunch and immediately headed to the pool to cool off:


Hurray for summer!

 

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Trails & trails

Before the weather gets too hot and we have to do any hiking really early in the day we headed out on two different hiking excursions this past week.

First up, the boys and I started venturing through our closest trail, The Goldsmith Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary :

This particular trail is a flat elevation for the part we walked:

And once you get past the beginning of the trail it is shaded:

It also has a shaded bench area at the start to bird and animal watch:

It was a good thing the weather was nice and a little breezy because we were still hot and sweaty by the time we returned home:

Then the next day my Aunt and Uncle were in town, so our whole family headed out to hike one of our favorite trails at Hayes Nature Preserve:

I think we’ve only hiked this trail in the winter, so it was definitely different to see it all in the late Spring:

We found a cool little cave:

However, I think the kids’ favorite part were the rocks to climb at the end:

And a fuzzy caterpillar to inspect was also the talk of the morning:

We had a great time adventuring through the forest!

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Hiking gear musts

Whenever we go hiking we have some must haves to bring and wear. First up what I wear:

Light weight tank & leggings, hat, sunglasses, and quality shoes that I don’t mind getting dirty. You honestly don’t catch B and I outside without sunglasses on. It’s not because it’s sunny all the time (which it is a lot here), but it’s because it prevents allergens from getting in our eyes. Seriously. I don’t know if you’ve been to the south, but allergies here are no joke. I keep trying to convince the boys to wear sunnies by buying them new ones constantly. It hasn’t worked great, as you can see above. Hats are also a must to prevent ticks from getting in your hair (insert wide eyed scary face here).

The boys wear athletic gear (our favorites are under armour and champion) and lightweight shoes that are washable.

Our must haves to carry (besides lots of trail mix!) are:

All of these are on the Cub Scout list if hiking essentials. We’ve convinced A that we have a map and compass on our phone, so we don’t need to bring those as well, however we also carry a battery pack charger for our phones. And if you need extra help you could always read our go to guide:

Just kidding! However, this is one that’s great for our area:

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