Okay kids, it’s cool enough that I don’t gripe every time I have to move farther than from the computer to the water pitcher–let’s go hiking!

Traditionally, we have hiked the Cliff Trail to the falls and then take the Low Trail back.  I just noticed in the Catoctin Mountain trail guide that the Cliff Trail is listed as difficult, and Lily’s been hiking it since she was 5, so I figure we can tackle ANYthing.  I keep in mind, however, that it’s also pretty short, and decide we’ll take the Falls Trail from the Catoctin Forest national Park visitor’s center to Cunningham Falls and back.  I love my plan b/c a) the Nat’l park is free, but if we start in the State Park it costs money.  b)I think this will bring us in at the top of the falls.

When we first moved to Frederick, Steve and I hiked to the Falls and we came out at the top.  I have not done so again.  When we come in at the bottom, there are all these signs asking us to stay out of the “fragile” area down there and on the boardwalk provided.  But who wants to do THAT?  there are big ol’ rocks and waterfalls.  So I end up feeling guilty (I know, as I should) and also shoving my kids up the big rocks by their butts.  This goes against my usual principal of “if you can’t’ get there yourself, you shouldn’t be there.” The converse, however, is not necessarily true (I’m looking at you, Hazel).  So we set off from the parking lot for our 3 mile hike.

It was a reasonably steep climb, filled with speculation about angles of ascent and why people carve beech trees.  Lily was kept moving with the promise of being able to stick her feet in the water at the falls.  She’d even brought along extra socks.  We reached the end of the climby part of the trail and crossed the highway to the path that leads to the falls.  A pause for a rebellious photo:

the Man cant tell US where to stop or stand!

the Man can't tell US where to stop or stand!

And off down the boardwalk.  I realized quickly (’cause I’m smaht) that we were going to be at the bottom of the stupid falls again.  And shortly after I realized that we were going to be on an enclosed walk that wouldn’t even let us disobediently climb down onto the rocks.  Lily was…disappointed.  I cajoled/consoled/snarled her onto the path again to head back, assuring her that we could play in the stream at the trailhead.  Along the way, nature lessons!

“what kind of bug is that?”

“I don’t know, but soon there’ll be more of them.”

Lily started crabbing about sore ankles near the end, but otherwise made it just fine, encouraging me to try a slightly longer trail next time, if it involves a bit less steep climbing.  And, as promised, there was the stream:

and pretty mushrooms:

We were already in Thurmont, so we ate dinner at a local restaurant and went to play practice afterward.  And, as usual,  was far more tired than they.  Is there some sort of equilibrium at play?  Mom gets as tired as all kids combined?