Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I like this picture for several reasons:

One, it looks like the bunnies on her shirt are going to hop off and scamper off into the woods.

Two, her determined face.

And three, a reminder of a lovely morning in the woods.

It was a cloudy and windy morning last Saturday when we packed ourselves into the car and drove westward through the grey, until we got to a particular spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Afton, Virginia: the hike to Humpback Rock.  It was a one mile hike up that Ken and I had done before: a few times in college and once after college while we were dating.  It is a simple hike because it is only one mile (two miles up and down), but it is steep enough to keep it interesting, and the view at the top is worth it.  So we (us and our good friends, the Clinches) did what any nature (and challenge) loving parents would do, we brought our kids and made an adventure out of it.

I want Sloane to love enjoy hiking up a mountain for all the many reasons so I decided early on that I would encourage her but wouldn't rush her.  Our progress required a balance of stopping with her to observe the little things and encouraging her to keep moving.  

At the beginning of our journey she had picked up a bunch of leaves (for her dog, she said) and sticks (for her family, she said) and kept them in her hand as she walked, which was slowing her down. I kept offering to hold them for her, but she was determined to hold them herself. Eventually, later on in the hike, I convinced her to leave the sticks (but only if we promised to pick them up later) and then she picked up a couple of stones (her "treasures") that she held on to tightly. As we got closer to the top, to help us make it through some of the tougher parts, I started telling her a story about a little girl who climbed a mountain and collected leaves, sticks, moss and stones. In the story, when the little girl threw the leaves, they turned into butterflies, when she threw the sticks they turned into snakes, when she threw the moss it turned into a magic carpet, and when she threw the stones they turned into birds.   

Sloane realized when we got to the top that she had lost the stones she has been carrying, and when she asked me with a bewildered expression on her face where they had gone, I told her that they had turned into birds. The next day when we were home, she picked up a couple of stones from our yard, turned to me and said, "Mom, can we turn these stones into birds?" 

In the first five minutes of our hike, Megan spotted a chrysalis! It was perfect and looked like an exquisite jewel.  I didn't get a picture of it, but I snapped a photo of the nature observers and documenters taking it in. 

Here we go! The explorers, including the ever faithful, Gigi the dog. (And do you see Sloane clutching her leaves and stick?) 

This bunch here is just the best. 

Os & Sloane (and again, Sloane's leaves and stick)

After the first 20 minutes, we waved the Clinches on, with promises to meet them up there.  Sloane was taking her time, and I didn't want to rush her too much or slow the boys down. 

I don't know if you can really tell from the pictures, but almost the entire hike was at an incline and just got steeper and steeper as we went up.  That's Sloane's walking stick. 

Ken wore baby Logan up (and then I wore her down).

This is what she thought about the hike.

It started getting steeper and rockier.  Sloane did such a good job trucking on through, and she was determined to do a lot of it herself.  Eventually,  some parts got to be both rocky and muddy, and I carried her through those parts.

This was a place where we stopped for a breather and a snack right before the last 800 feet to the cliffs.  That hammock though, I need one in my life! 

Three peas in a hammock.

The adventurers. 

Sharing snacks

And then we were at the top!! Sloane kept exclaiming, "wow!" at the view, and we took turns saying it.  It was beautiful.  And then we pointed out all the broccoli (the trees) and the rivers (roads) that we saw from where we were. 

The Clinch Family

Ken climbed down into some rock crevices.

Can we take a moment to sit with how strange and surreal it is that we used to come up here when we were in college, and this time we made the trip with two of our babies??! 

What is happening? 

I'm so glad we were able to do this trip together as a family, and with our family friends.  It was exhilarating to be in the woods during this time of year, and I loved being able to do it with the kids. They were amazing!

And now that I know we can do it with a 3 year old and three month old, I'm determined to do more of it.

If you look away too quickly you'll miss it, but that's Sloane strapped to Ken's back. The hike back down was more treacherous than the hike up, so Sloane got a ride down and she loved every minute.


  1. Sloane's face in the first photo is overlapping eunice's face when LJKC youth went to the Humpback and eunice was 7years old. I was surprised with her, because she kept pace with youth kids and ran ahead of them later. She was definitely determined.

  2. I love how you and Ken expose Sloane and Logan to nature and exploring!
    Really enjoyed these pictures!