Posts filed under ‘Hiking’

Views While Nursing – Sacagawea-ing It

Sacagawea

Sacagawea (Photo by MudflapDC)

I’ve been continuing to take an ongoing collection of views while nursing my second son. One of my favorite subset of photos are what I refer to “Sacagawea-ing It”. Sacagawea was an interpreter and guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. She gave birth to her first child, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, and continued her travels with her infant son. Whenever we are out on the trails with infant Dyson, I think of Sacagawea hiking with her son.

We hiked with my older son as well, but we’ve been getting significantly more mileage in with our second. I think part of this is we know we aren’t going to break him. But another factor is the breastfeeding. You don’t have to bring along a cooler and bottles and you don’t have to time your hike between visits to the breast pump. I’ve been really enjoying how easy family hikes are and I certainly don’t mind feeding the youngest… particularly when he decide he’s hungry at a glorious overlook. :)

We’re still only 4.5 months into our breastfeeding journey, but here are some new “Views While Nursing…While Hiking.”

September 22, 2013 View While Nursing...from the Appalachian Trail's Angel Rest near Pearisburg, VA
Appalachian Trails’ Angel’s Rest, Pearisburg, Virginia

View While Nursing for September 29, 2013 - Fishing Pier Through Trees at Leesylvania State Park, Virginia
Fishing Pier, Leesylvania State Park, Virginia

View While Nursing for October 20, 2013-  Wetlands at Veterans Park.  Woodbridge, VA  Http://viewswhilenursing.tumblr.com
Wetlands, Veterans Park, Woodbridge, Virginia

View While Nursing for November 1, 2013 - High Point Overlook on Bull Run Mountain.  http://viewswhilenursing.tumblr.com
High Point Overlook, Bull Run Mountain, Virginia

View While Nursing for November 3, 2013 - Bald Eagle Nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge  http://viewswhilenursing.tumblr.com
Bald Eagle Nest, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Woodbridge, Virginia

P.S. Instagram allows me to upload photos directly to Tumblr, so more Views While Nursing can be found at http://viewswhilenursing.tumblr.com.

November 19, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Sagan’s Peak and Dyson’s Peak

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.

McAfee's Knob - Mountains and Motherhood (by Ryan Somma)
Vicky on McAfee’s Knob (33 Weeks Pregnant with Sagan)

Tinker Cliffs - 25 Week Belly at Top (By Ryan Somma)
Vicky on Tinker Cliffs (25 Weeks Pregnant with Dyson)

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. : )

McAfee's Knob - Vicky and Ryan
Ryan and Vicky and In Utero Sagan with Dyson’s Peak (Tinker Cliffs)

Tinker Cliffs - McAfee Knob, Vicky, Ryan
[A Poorly Lit] Ryan and Vicky and In Utero Dyson with Sagan’s Peak (McAfee’s Knob)

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. : )

August 14, 2013 at 1:00 am 1 comment

Surprise Family Hike with Surprise Finds – Ballywhack Creek

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.

Memorial Day 2013 - Sagan Supervises Lawn Mower Repairs
D’oh

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.

Memorial Day 2013 - Cicada on Beech
Cicada on American Beech

Memorial Day 2013 - Cicada Shells and Sweet Gum Leaves
Cicada Shells Left on Sweet Gum Leaves

Memorial Day 2013 - Cicada Shell on Tulip Poplar
Cicada Shell on Tulip Poplar Leaf

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.

Memorial Day 2013 - Daddy and Sagan Smile at Cicada
Sagan Holds His First Cicada

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.

Memorial Day 2013 - Ants Eat Cicada 1 - Cropped
NOM NOM NOM

We got to see a number of water insects and large tadpoles in the creek.

Memorial Day 2013 - Water Insect and Tadpoles
Water Insect and Tadpoles

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.

Memorial Day 2013 - Sagan Meets Worm
Sagan Does Not Hold the Earthworm

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.

Memorial Day 2013 - Fawn
Awww….Cute Enough to Make Forget Deer Eat My Chestnut Trees

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.

May 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm 1 comment

Sagan Compare: Falls Ridge Nature Preserve

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!

Falls Ridge - Sagan Compare - 3 Months, 22 Months
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)

May 17, 2013 at 1:00 am 2 comments

Spring Wildflowers at Falls Ridge Nature Preserve

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:

Falls Ridge 2013 - Small Mossy Falls (Close)
Mossy Waterfall

Falls Ridge 2013 - Sine Wave Falls
Curvy Falls

A snippet of the wildflowers:

Falls Ridge 2013 - Columbine and Ferns
Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) with Ferns

Falls Ridge 2013 - Single Columbine Flower
Closeup of Wild Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Mayapple Buds
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) Not Quite Blooming Yet

Falls Ridge 2013 - Trillium By New Stairs
Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Jack in the Pulpit
Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Purple Orchid Like Flower
Possible Showy Orchid (Orchis spectabilis)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Possible Star Chickweed?
Possible Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Buds and Leaves
Possible False Solomon’s Seal (Smilacina racemosa)

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
From Main Street, turn on Ellett Road.
Turn left on Jennelle Road and cross over railroad tracks
Turn right on Den Hill Road
Turn left on Northfork
Turn right on Falls Ridge Rd.
Turn left immediately after the railroad tracks and follow the gravel road to the preserve.

May 16, 2013 at 1:00 am 4 comments

Family Hike: Slaughterhouse Trail at the Lorton Workhouse

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.

Trail Overview
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.

Slaughterhouse Trail - Ryan Helps Sagan Cross Log
Mountain Bike Obstacles Can Double as Playgrounds!

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.

Slaughterhouse Trail - Vines and Bars
Window Inside Slaughterhouse

Fauna
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).

Slaughterhouse Trail - Caterpillars
Caterpillars!

Flora
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!

Slaughterhouse Trail - Old Branches
Neat Old Tree

Slaughterhouse Trail - Sagan Blows on Dandelion (By Ryan Somma)
Sagan Blows on a Dandelion

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. ;)

Slaughterhouse Trail - Sagan's 'Brush'
Sagan’s “Brush”

Slaughterhouse Trail - Trail Maintenance
Brushing the Trail

More pictures of our quick hike to the Slaughterhouse Trail can be found on my Flickr site.

May 15, 2013 at 10:46 am 1 comment

Michael Jordan or Odie (Repost from Facebook)

[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! : ) : ) : )

Leesylvania Park - Vicky Does Overhead Ladder - Comparison
Odie!

May 14, 2013 at 1:00 am 1 comment

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Banshee Reek Nature Preserve - Changing Virginia Creeper (Blurry)

Banshee Reek Nature Preserve - Changing Leaves and Thorns on Raspberry Trail

Banshee Reek Nature Preserve - Sagan's Different Tree

Banshee Reek Nature Preserve - Ryan and Sagan with Mountains on Raspberry Trail

Banshee Reek Nature Preserve - Turkey Vulture From Raspberry Trail

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