first hike: lost valley

Roone isn't sitting on a cliff, although it looks like it! 

Cobb Cave 

We planned for our hiking trip on the trails at the Buffalo National River to be four days, three nights with us hiking three days including the day we arrived. Having left home mid-morning and travel time being about five hours we arrived around 2pm. Having never adventured at this location it's something of a guessing game when you pick a trail, even when you research. We chose a 2.3 mile popular trail. This was a very good idea as our second trail was quite a weave through the mountains just to get to the trail head (with signage quite scare) and we definitely would have missed check-in!

The first part the Lost Valley trail is gravel which makes it an easy walk. Since the season is Fall that means the forest is becoming bare, one of my favorite views. There were still some vibrant reds and golds left, but most of the scenery was brown. This trail included falls and caves. Once the gravel trail ends the steep stone steps begin. At this point caution is rightly urged and if you're with children it's time to be more than vigilant. At ages 9 and 11 our children are aware of safety (with one being more cautious than the other...), but if you have littles, you'll want to hold their hands the entire time.

Everything about this trail was pleasing. The trickle of Clark Creek, the picturesque stone steps, the beauty of Eden Falls, the enormity of Cobb Cave, the crunch of leaves as we walked, the smell of the forest. It was an easy-for-us walk, but was enhanced with all there was to see. A perfect time after the car ride and before settling into our cabin.

We stayed at a fully furnished cabin through the Buffalo Outdoor Center. They have many cabin options and prices, but we chose a simple one in the woods. We were more than pleased with the friendly employees and the cabin really was a perfect place to be cozy, complete with fireplace, when not hiking.

The Lost Valley trail and our cabin were both located in the Boxley Valley. I adore that name. Our second hike would take place high on the mountain, a totally different experience than the valley. I'll save those pics for another post.

Regarding gear. I am something of a minimalist. However, two essentials when out in nature are water and good footwear. In the last picture of Roone he is drinking from his new CamelBak and you can see his shoes, LL Bean Shock Mocs.

A CamelBak is like a plastic pocket you can fill with water and then drink directly from. Jesse, Ella and Roone each have one and it slips easily into their backpacks. I actually didn't want one (see minimalist, above) and don't drink much while in the process of an activity (it's just my style), so just took a sip of water from Jesse's pack every now and then.

Last year when researching Keens for the children I also came across Shock Mocs. Jesse and I both have Keens and the bottoms have been slippery for us, enough that we don't wear them hiking anymore. The Shock Mocs looked to have sturdier soles than kids Keens and were less expensive by a good fifteen dollars. It turns out they were a great investment. They lasted an entire year and are great for any outdoor activity for the children.

I also have shoes to recommend for adults, but I'll save that to go with another post.

The Sunday before our hiking trip I was listening to our pastor teach on the book of Revelation. The first words written in chapter 22 are as follows:

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, 
clear as crystal, 
proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 
In the midst of the street of it, 
and on either side of the river, 
was there the tree of life, 
which bare twelve manner of fruits, 
and yielded her fruit every month: 
and the leaves of the tree 
were for the healing of the nations. 

The pastor then said something akin to the fact that for all the beauty we see here on earth there will be even greater beauty one day. That struck me. Being in nature has become a way for me to be refreshed, and I'm always struck by the unique beauty of each new place we visit. But for all the we're able to experience as a family, these verses describe a river of life, a tree of life and leaves that heal. It's hard for me to comprehend, but by faith I believe there will be a greater beauty to experience one day!