Posts filed under ‘Hiking’
I live about four and half hours away from my former home in Blacksburg, Virginia. Although I don’t get back to see “my mountains” as much as I would like, Ryan and I still managed to hike an Appalachian Trail staple during both pregnancies.
With my first son, Sagan, we hiked up to the most photographed point on the Appalachian Trail, McAfee’s Knob, at 33 weeks. With my second son, Dyson, we hiked up to nearby Tinker Cliffs at 25 Weeks. That means we now have an Appalachian Trail landmark that will remind us of each son.
Now get this– from Sagan’s Peak (aka McAfee’s Knob), you can see Dyson’s Peak (Tinker Cliffs) and from Dyson’s Peak, you can see Sagan’s Peak! If you are on one boy’s peak, you can still think of the other. : )
Here’s my favorite part– a day hike that hits both overlooks is only 13.1 miles long. One day, our family can go up the Andy Layne Trail to Dyson’s Peak (Tinker Cliffs) and then continue on to Sagan’s Peak (McAfee Knob). I’ve done that day hike before. I know first hand that it’s an amazing trip and will be even more amazing to share with the boys.
It’s a hike well-worth waiting a decade for. : )
This morning Sagan, Ryan, and I were intending on doing some yard work over at my grandmother’s old house, but we ran into some mechanical difficulties.
So instead, we decided to explore the nearby woods and get some recordings and photos of cicadas. We ended up walking along a nice fireroad that paralleled the Ballywhack Creek and eventually we found ourselves in the River Ridge section of Lake Ridge and made our way back to the broken lawn mower. It was a good outing and we had plenty of opportunities to hear and see cicadas.
We also had a cute little bit of cicada-related dialog with 22-month old Sagan.
Vicky: Sagan, do you want the cicada on your head?
Sagan: (matter-of-factly) No.
Vicky: Sagan, do you want the cicada on your hand?
Sagan: (matter-of-factly) Yes.
Sagan had a little bit of dialogue of his own with the cicada including telling it “Bye Bye”
Our mission was simple– we wanted to see cicadas. But we ended up with a lot of surprise finds as well. First off, we got to see an unfortunate cicada who never successfully molted being devoured (albeit slowly) by red ants.
We got to see a number of water insects and large tadpoles in the creek.
Even though it hadn’t rained recently, there was a large amount of earthworms out. Here again, we had an opportunity to converse with Sagan.
Vicky: Sagan, do you want the worm on your hand?
Sagan: (matter-of-factly) No.
Our biggest surprise was right behind the River Ridge houses on Farversham. We came across a little white-tail deer fawn waiting for its Momma.
One last surprise– shortly after we made our way back home, Ryan uncovered the problem with the mower and it resumed working better than ever. Apparently sometimes it pays to step away from a problem for a while. : )
More pictures of our Memorial Day Family Walk can be found on my Flickr site.
When Sagan was 14 weeks old, Ryan and I took him to the Nature Conservancy’s Falls Ridge Nature Preserve. Last week, I was able to take him, now 22-months old, on a return trip. That empowered me to snag a quick “Sagan Compare”. Enjoy!
Left – October 17, 2011 – Sagan is 3 months old, Mommy is 3 months post-partum (Photo by Ryan Somma)
Right – May 5, 2013 – Sagan is almost 22 months old, Mommy is 30 weeks pregnant (Photo by Merry Leigh)
My mother accompanied Sagan and I on a weekend to Blacksburg, Virginia. The weekend went by super fast, but on the way home, we were able to meet some of my friends for a quick hike at the Nature Conservancy’s Falls Ridge Nature Preserve. I’ve been there numerous times before, but this time was one of the most beautiful of trips. Not only did the falls look spectacular, but we were greeted with a rather large variety of blooming wildflowers.
Some snippets of the falls:
A snippet of the wildflowers:
More photos of our Falls Ridge Wildflower Hike can be found on my Flickr site.
|Falls Ridge Preserve
Length: You can make it as long or as short as you want
Elevation Gain: Flat, except for a hill to the top of the falls.
Driving and Parking: The final approach to the preserve is a flat gravel road. There is plenty of parking.
Directions from Blacksburg, VA
Back in 2007, I had a post called “Hooray for Powerlines and Prisons” where I talked about the surprise greenspace provided by the old prison in Lorton, Virginia. At the time, I had heard there were plans to turn that land into parks. I speculated “I bet those parks end up kicking ass” and now over six years later I can confirm that speculation.
One April Friday evening, Ryan and I had just enough daylight to take Sagan out for a quick hike. We drove up to the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center, parked our car, and hiked the Slaughterhouse Trail.
This trail is mainly intended as a mountain bike trail. As a side benefit, there are obstacles and ramps for the bikes that make nice little challenges/playgrounds for walking toddlers.
The namesake of the trail is an old slaughterhouse for the prison. It adds a nice “creep factor” to the woods which is usually indigenous to say, Burkittsville, Maryland.
We saw a dead opossum, a dead raccoon, and a really big discarded snake skin inside the slaughterhouse. As far as living creatures, we saw plenty of birds and squirrels. Sagan got to take in a nice nest of baby caterpillars. Ryan and I spotted a few ticks crawling on us, but luckily none found their way to Sagan (It would be another two days before Sagan would be graced with his very first tick).
Lots of evergreens and your typical trees you would see in the area such as tulip poplars. But the highlight of the flora this trip were the seeding dandelions!
Future Trail Maintainer?
At Leesylvania State Park, Sagan showed an aptitude for personal training. On this hike, he showed his might also have an interest in trail maintenance as well. He was very good and thorough about throwing pine cones off the trail. When he found some nice brown pine boughs, he announced, “Brush! Brush!” and started brushing the trail. Perhaps that’s also a sign he’s got a little bit of thru-hiker innovation in him as well. ;)
More pictures of our quick hike to the Slaughterhouse Trail can be found on my Flickr site.
[A repost from Facebook. The image still cracks me up, so I wanted it somewhere easier to retrieve than that blackhole known as "Timeline"]
On the Fitness Trail at Leesylvania State Park, Ryan Somma took some pictures of me doing the overhead ladder.
When I finished, Ryan noted, “The most impressive part of that was your tongue.” He reported it was hanging out the entire time I was traversing across.
Eh, no biggie. Michael Jordan does that too, right?. When I got home, however, I discovered I didn’t look a thing like Michael Jordan. I seem to bear a much stronger resemblance to Odie! : ) : ) : )
As hectic and life-changing Ryan and I find parenting to sometimes be, we both realize there are luxuries we have…courtesy of the live-in grandmother we have at our house. One such luxury– on Sundays, my mother watches the little boy and Ryan and I get to go to the gym and workout together. I rather fancy weight-lifting with my spouse, particularly when he executes his shoulder press sets, so it is an outing I typically look forward to.
A few Sundays ago, however, we had a great deal of home improvement tasks and as afternoon turned to late afternoon, it was clear we weren’t going to make the gym. Instead, we decided to take our son out to Woodbridge, Virginia’s Leesylvania State Park for some outdoor fun.
Now, I always look forward to being outside, but there was definitely part of me that was disappointed I was going to miss my gym date. Little did I know, there is something better than working out with your spouse– Working out with your spouse AND your son!
We parked, we started our way on the Bushey Pointe Trail and lo and behold we discovered it was one of those fitness trails where they have different stations set up for you to try out different exercises. We all, Sagan included, had fun experimenting at stations and then jogging to the next one.
Just as some exercises have to be modified for pregnancy, Sagan had to modify some of the stations for toddlerhood.
When we let Sagan do some assisted pullups, Ryan noted that Sagan was holding his own bodyweight. Yet, we were still surprised a few stations later when Sagan grabbed onto a tricep dip bar and started having the time of his life doing leg lifts.
Future Personal Trainer?
We also found Sagan to show signs of being an effective personal trainer. At one point, he was watching Ryan doing reverse push-ups.
I guess Sagan decided that exercise wasn’t challenging enough for Ryan. So he decided to add a little more resistance to the mix.
Or there was the time when Ryan just finished up the last of his Bar Jump sets when Sagan, supervising from one of the bars, ordered, “ONE MORE!”. : )
Sagan wasn’t singling poor Ryan out. Later, when Sagan was trying to do his own version of bar jumps, he showed the self motivation to do “one more” of his own.
And when we all finished our stations, we had the beautiful Potomac to take in as we continued to the hike the Bushey Pointe Trail and the Powell Trails. By the end of the outing, missing out on the gym with my husband was just a distant memory. : )
More pictures of our trip on the Bushey Pointe Trail in Leesylvania State Park can be found on my Flickr site.
| Bushey Pointe Trail in Leesylvania State Park
2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Dr.
Length: 1-2 miles
Fees Weekdays $4, Weekends $5
Directions from Occoquan, VA