In Colorado, getting the kids outside in the Winter time is always a challenge. Some times there is snow on ground, the wind is a bit too rough, and the kids can only last outdoor for a half an hour at a time. However, there are days were the sun is shining so bright that we really have no excuse to stay indoors. The latter was the case on a beautiful crisp February morning.
Hence, we packed the entire family in the car and headed to Castlewood Canyon State Park for a glorious hike.
Once we arrived at the park (it took 45 minutes to get there), we asked the Park Rangers which of the hiking trails were easiest and shortest. After all, we had two toddlers, and their elderly "Obachan" (that's what the Japanese call their grandma), to take along with us.
The Park Rangers directed us to the Inner Canyon Loop trail, which they said was the easiest of the four trails in the park. They estimated that it would take us approximately an hour to loop around, and promised us that we would have a great view of the canyon once we got to the end. However, the hike was not easy, it took us an entire three hours to hike, and we never got to the end.
Our pictures tells the story:
Here we are at the beginning of the trail. It sure looks easy...
Daddy's turn to get his picture taken at the starting point.
First signs that we were going to have to be cautious and walk at a slower pace! Ice everywhere on the trail, and Obachan did not have proper hiking shoes to deal with the slippery surface.
We loved the rock formation in this park! Plus, we got to see a couple of rock climbers enjoying their sport as we continued our hike.
We couldn't understand why our little princess kept falling behind...
...until she caught up to us, and told us she found a "treasure"! This is why we go out in Nature, where pine cones are treasures!
The scenery was beautiful. We all stopped for a few minutes just to take it all in.
More snow on the ground. Actually, it was really iced-up. At this point we were all walking carefully and very slow.
Eek! A dead mouse! The princess was very fascinated by this, and asked if we knew what ate the poor little creature. We let her use her imagination, for we had no answer to her question. Her conclusion was that it might have been one of the dogs, since she noted that the park allows people to bring their pet dogs with them on a hike.
You can't tell from this picture, but this is actually a frozen stream! We had to stop, because it was very slippery and we had to climb a couple of big rocks to cross over.
Another picture of the frozen stream. Beautiful!
There was a part of the creek that was not frozen, and this lovely dog could not resist taking a dip!
At this point, Obachan was very tired and was feeling a bit uncomfortable walking on the muddy, sometime iced-up dirt. I had to stay behind with her, hold her at times to ensure she didn't fall down and break a bone. Our little girl was so concerned, that she found both Obachan and I a walking stick! If you click on the picture above, you can clearly see us both with our sticks. Thanks princess.
This is the obligatory, take a picture of the kids together task of the day! :-)
We made it mid point on the loop, but had to stop. Too many people that were coming from the other direction told us that we should turn around and not attempt to go to the end because the icy condition was dangerous. I guess they noticed Obachan holding unto me really tight, and knew instantly that with such an elderly person, we should not try and walk down the steep hill they all described as extremely icy, and not suitable for hiking. We heeded their warning and turned around.
Our little girl under a cute rock formation.
Back the way we came from! And look who now has one of our walking sticks! LOL
The peanut has been on daddy's back all this time. This is a picture I took of him just minutes before he passed out...which is something he usually does at the end of almost every hike we have taken. We can now actually time it!
However, the princess is still going...
Oh, and look! She found herself another treasure! What an amazing little rock. The colors are amazing!
She found another treasure!
Before we left the park, my princess noticed a little red berry-looking thing on the dried-up grass. It was a perfect opportunity to introduce the concept of "find and identify" to my lovely four year old.
We have yet to identify the fruit, and the grass species it belongs to...if any of you know what this is please let us know. We would be so appreciative. :-)
Here is a close-up of what we think is some kind of berry. As stated above, we have yet to identify the species, but since we will be going back to Castlewood Canyon State Park sometime at the end of Spring, we will hopefully be able to identify the grass that produces this fruit, with its more green discernible features.
It was a treacherous hike, and we didn't make it to the end. But really who cares? We were out in Nature, enjoying its divine beauty. And look at these two on the car ride back home: So happy! Exploring Nature definitely has its rewards!
As a side note, we ran again into one of the Park Rangers on the way out of the park. He told us that we have to come back at the end of May, when the cherry blossom are in bloom. Apparently, the smell from the tree flowers are so powerful and gorgeous, that people make it a yearly tradition to return to Castlewood Canyon State Park just to smell the air. So, we are going back at the end of May, and we cannot wait!