Jason and I have had to modify our hiking strategy significantly for the current phase in our life. While hiking, we are carrying a 7-month-old and we have an almost-3-year-old who can walk perfectly well on her own, and likes to hike, but she can't go particularly far or particularly fast. But she's rather heavy to carry on a long hike. This is where the Shenandoah "Short Hikes" book comes in handy. These are all hikes that are less than two miles long, and though we've hiked many of them, there are still a few we need to explore, and one of the beauties of the outdoors is that the same route is never the same hike should we decide to take the same path on a different day.
On this particular day, we decided to leave the dogs at home and walk a trail called "The Story of the Forest," which we had read about many times but had never planned to hike. The hike was nice and flat, easy enough for our toddler, and we were very excited to see a large number of deer that we didn't noticed until we were very close because they were so well camouflaged by the trees. The first part of the trail wandered through the woods and crossed over a little stream a couple times. It was a quiet day, and though we had the trail mostly to ourselves, we didn't really experience the "escape" we normally enjoy while hiking.
Casey says "Let me at 'em!"
Along the wooded part of the trail, we passed a large power center of some sort and the entire return section of the loop trail was paved, and along side the road. It was rather disappointing. It was easy enough for someone who just wanted to get out for a little walk in Shenandoah, but it wasn't really the experience we were going for.
Because of that, and the fact that we still had some time before our evening commitments, we decided to stop on the way out of the park and hike Little Stony Man. Ahhh, much better. By this time, Sierra was tired, and slowing down. She had a great attitude, and wanted to keep hiking, but we convinced her to ride in a carrier on the way up.
The views at the top of Little Stony Man were amazing, well worth the uphill climb. At the top, we saw a whole group of rock climbers from William and Mary College. And Sierra did a little climbing herself.
Sierra did some more hiking on the way back down, and we definitely felt happy that we added that additional trail to our day.