Happy Trails

Pm 1
 Jeff gave me a slight shock the other day when I asked if he wanted to go hiking today and he said yes. Normally, he's not so excited about the plan. This time, though, with little planned (and cleaning to avoid at all costs), he was all for it. So, on Saturday, after he and J got back from collecting food with the cub scouts (I slept in...ahhhh...), we headed towards Grafton and Pere Marquette State Park.

It's hunting season, so we were a little concerned about where we could hike safely, but the park ranger assured me that the hunting areas were remote and nowhere near the trails. I was happy to leave the orange clothes I'd brought just in case in the car. We also left the trail map in the car--oops--but are familiar enough with the trails that it wasn't a problem.

J was funny. He knew we were going hiking, but I guess it didn't click until we got there. He got out of the car and was a little upset bc he didn't have his running clothes. Ummm...you're 7. You probably run 6 miles a day on the playground in jeans. I think you'll be ok. And he spent the majority of the hike in the lead.


Unless he was checking out huge leaves...


Or gigantic walking sticks...

Pm3-giant hiking stick

...or swinging from a vine...


(Ok, he wasn't the only one playing Tarzan...)


...or crossing a fallen log.


It was an almost magical day. There isn't anything huge to tell. Just lots and lots of small joys.


Like the fact that we hiked for 4.5 miles and my child never complained once.

I was dying to run on the trails.

Isn't this just begging to be run on?
Half of the terrain was still smoking from a controlled burn. J said it was a little spooky and reminded him of the movie How to Train Your Dragon.


It's rare for him to be with both parents these days bc of the demands of all the boys' practice schedules as well as PSR and scouts for J, and I think He has really missed family time because he spent a lot of time holding both of our hands


Usually we take a shorter loop that goes up through some rocky areas, bit this time we took a different route. J loves climbing rocks, but he had a blast running on the trail, scratching his name in the dirt, attempting to pee his name, talking a LOT about poop, and examining all manner of rocks, nuts, and leaves.


The first trails we hiked passed through rolling, wooded hills. I was breathing a little heavier on some of them, but overall I felt really good. Like I said, I was dying to run. J even asked, "Mommy, do you want to run with me," but I didn't because I wanted it to be a family hike and Jeff was wearing down a little. He mentioned a couple of times, "I need to get in shape before we go back to the Grand Canyon." (a trip which, at this point, is still a dream until finances pick up a bit)

This picture makes me smile. I told Jeff, "Look like you're having fun!", to which he replied, "This is my fun face!"  ...echoing my line from a past trip to the Smoky Mountains.

We were hiking up to the Chimney Tops, a trail only a couple mikes long, but up, up, up. He was filming and hiking and doing just fine; I was stopping, gasping at every tree we passed. I scowled as he turned the camera on me. "C'mon, look like you're having fun, he coaxed. "This. is. my. fun. face!" I grimaced. How things change  ...though, to be fair, I'd still be panting and hurting on that chimney trail.

The woods and trails were beautiful.



Leaves everywhere.


I kept looking back at Jeff and smiling. I felt such a sense of utter happiness and well-being.


We stopped at an overlook and gazed around us.



Stopped at another overlook and rested.



Looked out over the rivers.


I was getting chilly. I had on a compression top under a long-sleeved texhnical t-shirt. Perfect as long as we were hiking but a little chilly when we were still.


So we headed down the trail.


On the hike back down we stopped at J's rocks and did some climbing.


Took more pictures.


Whereas the first part of our hike was through rolling woods, the last part parallels the river and passes alongside bluffs.


We started at almost one and hiked for about 2.5 hours, but even early in the day it felt later than it actually was. The air was a little hazy from the burn, and the sky was overcast. By the time we headed down the trail back to the parking lot, the sun had peeked out, but it was after three and starting to seem a little dusky.


Back at the parking lot...


It was a wonderful day.  The weather was beautiful, the hiking was great, J. was a trooper, and no one mistook us for deer.  Close to a perfect afternoon!


  1. Great pics! It sounds/looks like a fantastic day.

  2. Nice! I feel like you took me on that walk. That makes great memories. I am glad to see that you did not wear your PJ's and slippers!

  3. Many beautiful pictures of a fantastic day. Thanks for entering the virtual race. Please let me know your time at the 10° km. Ciao from Italy.

  4. I was going to ask you if that was the Mississippi, but then I clicked on the park link and realized it's the Illinois. I grew up on the Mississippi and my grandmother lived in Lansing, Iowa - very northeastern tip of Iowa, and the views from the cliffs three remind me so much of your views of the river - and honestly, of your entire hike as there are trails full of leaves there too. Your blog brought back some really great childhood memories, I am super envious. Thanks for sharing....it looked like the PERFECT family time day!!!

    Happy Thanksgiving!!! :)

  5. Actually, the Illinois and Mississippi rivers are both in the river picture. Good call! And yes, it was a wonderful, wonderful day! :)

  6. Ummmm...yea....YOU TAKE ROCKIN PICTURES!!!
    I am in awe! =)
    What more to say...I want to go on that exact hike with my kids..and do the exact same things...and see it all through your camera!
    Love it!


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