See there… I am already keeping my New Year's goals! Two of them of in fact:
1. Up our winter activities with winter hikes, sledding, ice skating, snow tubing, and evening walks.
2. Get more involved with our metro parks and our city parks and recreation offerings… nature hikes, educational classes, etc.
Yesterday we hiked the first in a series of 13 Winter Hikes hosted by the parks system in our area. I LOVE our metro parks!!! All year long they organize activities that are perfect for families and this was no exception. I keep telling my husband and my parents that the metro parks in Central Ohio are reason alone NOT to move back to Arizona. Frankly the parks in Phoenix kinda suck in comparison. A couple acres of grass and a playground and they call it a park. In the Columbus area we have 15 gorgeous parks representing 23,500 acres of unspoiled beauty… woods, rivers, ponds, waterfalls, caves, marshes, and TONS of organized activities. Some you pay for but many are free. You can take a photography class, go on a guided moonlight hike, listen to a lecture on winter wilderness survival or rain barrel water collection, and even attend a preschooler nature crafts groups for FREE.. and that it just the very tip of the iceberg. Since there are 15 parks that offer a range of things each week you could be overloaded with fun stuff to do.
Anyway, today marked the beginning of their 37th annual winter hike series and it kicked off with a 2 or 4 mile hike in Blacklick Woods.
I would guesstimate that a couple hundred people attended, including my brood.
We almost didn't go since we all stayed up past 11:00 PM the previous night playing Uno. We woke up with only 20 minutes to get ready and in a flurry found our gloves, hats, snow boots, snow pants, etc. and headed to the park. We didn't even eat or drink anything before taking off which was probably not the best of ideas. We need to plan better next time.
We decided to do the red trail (2 miles) since we hadn't eaten and my kids haven't done much winter hiking. Is was about 15 degrees so it was fairly cold!! If you took your gloves off for more than 5 minutes your hands felt like they were on fire. If you count the hike from one of the secondary parking lots (since the primary was full) it was about 2.5 miles in all.
At the halfway point the park people pretty much demanded we stop at the Nature Center to warm up (since they saw we had kids) and we were thankful. We spent 10 minutes warming up and looking at the animals they had in there and then we were off again. My oldest picked up a park magazine at the Nature Center so he could perfect his reading/hiking technique.
Three quarters of the way through the kidlets started getting cranky. I have almost no smiling face pictures beyond this point, hehe. They were cold, they hadn't eaten, and they had walked 2 miles in heavy boots on ice and snow.
This is my daughter's thumbs up that accompanied her triumphant "Victory is Mine!!" when we reached the lodge and concluded the hike (minus the hike back to the car).
Luckily the wonderful parks people… have I mentioned how I love our parks… greeted us with hot cocoa and vegetarian minestrone soup with crackers. Delicious!
See that cranky, hungry, wind whipped face? After the brief rest and the arduous hike back to our car, during which our toddler had a full on melt down and had to be carried, we all collapsed for the ride home. Their exhaustion was quickly forgotten 5 minutes after we got home. All in all it was a great way to start the morning. My husband agreed and that stinker had hemmed and hawed about going. ROFL! He's all about water sports, not winter sports.
Looking forward to next week!