To The Glen Again

I must confess something to you.

The unseasonably warm temperatures have been a bit of a downer here at Chez Knitting Sarah. Our entire family loves winter and this longest autumn ever has been wearing on us. As we watch and listen to others celebrate the mild weather, I realize this makes us very odd ducks. There’s a tiny part of me that is a little relieved that the stress on our soon-to-be-replaced 30-year-old furnace has been minimal, but nonetheless we’re longing for snow and cold that bites at our noses & takes our breath away.

It was with this in our hearts that we made the little trek to Parfrey’s Glen. This is a small, incredibly beautiful natural area that I’ve talked about at least 2 or 3 times before here.  Over the years it’s become too crowded for out tastes in the summer, but we can usually manage to find a good day in spring or fall when it’s quiet and not congested. We thought a Wednesday in mid-November might be just right and I’m delighted to say we were right as we only ran into a half dozen other souls on the trail this time around.

This place is a great geology lesson for the kids and — at least for me — a great, humbling reminder that Earth is a big, amazing place.

img_5244From the smallest details in the rocks…

img_5249To the remnants of an ancient sea, no matter where you choose to focus your attention it is an awe-inspiring spot.

The kids, well, they love balancing on downed trees…

img_5182And the excitement of the many stream crossings…

img_5245And my husband and I love to see them having so much fun and chuckling at the inevitable exclamation when someone slips and winds up a little in the drink…

img_5246And just the quiet and the stillness of it all.

We had a little picnic at the end of the trail…

img_5239Right here in this magical spot.

And when I’d finished my lunch and was waiting for everyone else…

img_5234I was reminded that the spindle is a very, very special tool.

We hiked out way out…

And at the insistence of our youngest made a stop at the Blue Spoon Cafe for some gelato. Who can refuse ice cream after a hike? We made a quick stop at Wollersheim Winery for a couple special bottles of wine and then headed home.

It was one of those days that is a great reminder of how lucky we are. That we have both the time and money to take these little day trips, to be awed by the world around us, and to play together in the quiet of the glen again — it’s a gift that not everyone in this world enjoys. I look back and I’m humbled and thankful for the beautiful day, for the awesome place, and for our time with each other. It’s this simple perspective that propels me forward and inspires me every day.

Revisiting

When you put down roots in a place and yet you have a yen for travel, but you have a job and commitments and no bottomless bank account — well, you have to find a way to make that work or you might go bananas. In our house my husband and I both traveled quite a bit before the house & kids, so to offset those itchy feet we have places that we revisit that are relatively close that are unique. It’s like the illusion of traveling farther afield, but for the cost of just a tank of gas and a picnic lunch on a day off. As I’m sure any longtime readers know, each of these spots tend to pop up here on the blog once or twice a year. Parfrey’s Glen is one such place and it was our family adventure yesterday.

The trail starts flat in a wooded area with a stream running alongside with some pristine habitat for bird life.

20140519-072033-26433879.jpgOur highlights were a Blue-winged warbler (I’ve heard them many times, but I think this was my first time actually seeing one) and a Louisiana waterthrush. There were also ample spots for the kids to test their balance.

20140519-072100-26460914.jpg(It wasn’t necessary probably, but I made Mr Knitting Sarah follow on this one as the drop was kind of steep. He kindly humored me.)

The trail then begins to get more challenging…

20140519-070817-25697268.jpgMost of these stairs and easy stream crossings are gone as floods destroyed an extensive boardwalk system in 2010. While it does take patience to wait for slower hikers to make some of the crossings, by the time you get to the more difficult terrain most of the crowds have diminished and the trail isn’t too congested. Sometimes though, sometimes someone gets to one side of the stream and can’t figure out how to get back.

20140519-070822-25702132.jpgAnd sometimes Dad rescues that someone. Dads are so great.

20140519-070824-25704733.jpgUndercutting exposes some pretty incredibly old sandstone and the ideathat a shallow sea once existed in this spot kind of blows our minds.

20140519-070819-25699600.jpgAnd even on May 18th, there is still some snow & ice in the cool recesses of this glen — could it be the start of a new glacier? While highly unlikely (read: impossible) that would be awesome and is kind of fun to consider.

The cherry on the sundae of this hike, however, is the little waterfall at the end.

20140519-070826-25706347.jpgThe perfect spot to enjoy a break and just take in the surroundings.

20140519-070820-25700972.jpgMost importantly about this hike, though, is that inside the towering walls of this landscape it is an opportunity for the kids to test their mettle and pick their own path through the stream and fallen rock. They get to feel big and small all at the same time. As grown-ups we feel it, too, and it is refreshing to revisit a place so difference than our everyday landscape.

We wrapped up our day with a picnic at the neighboring Devil’s Lake State Park where we ate while getting to watch a loon find lunch, too. What a day to adventure, to see the green of spring, and to get out of our little corner of the world & see see something ‘new’.

20140519-070818-25698438.jpg

Always In Stride

Despite our family being a little all over the place the last couple weeks, we have been managing to still make the most of our days together. Our wonderful day in Door County was followed last week by a day trip to a very special place, a place called Parfrey’s Glen. It is a deep gorge that has been designated as a state natural area — if you can make the hike in you will be rewarded with a gorgeous hike that ends in a lovely little waterfall. About two-thirds of the hike is relatively easy trail. The last third used to be a maintained elevated boardwalk that made traversing the rocky landscape quite easy going. Floods in recent years washed out the boardwalk and budget restraints along with the inevitability of any new structures being washed out again led the state to opt to not rebuild the walkway. Honestly, I like the change — it makes the hike much more wild. I also think it makes much more of an impact on my kids — to walk along on a boardwalk through a gorge makes much less of an impression than fording a stream multiple times & climbing sandstone boulders. But enough with the words, the pictures will show you what I mean.

20130729-080203.jpgThe forest at the start of the hike was a beautiful vivid green…

20130729-080228.jpgAnd the trees were perfect for little climbers.

A short jaunt off the trail, revealed a babbling brook…

(I didn’t think it could be captured without the ‘babbling’, so I took a short video)

20130729-080213.jpgAnd even some small waterfalls.

20130729-080524.jpgThere were the most beautiful moss covered conglomerates….

20130729-080253.jpgAnd sometimes the trees tried to take back the trail…

20130729-080451.jpgI can’t blame them, I’d want to keep this place to myself, too.

20130729-080556.jpgThe scale of this place was not lost on the kids…

parfrey's glenHow could it be?

parfrey's glen1And — as my husband & I always marvel at — our kids take all these little adventures in the ‘wild’ in stride.20130729-080347.jpgHow else would we spend our days together?

Many thanks to my wonderful husband for allowing me to use some of his photos!