Every Christmas Eve, I stay up extra late either wrapping up a DIY gift with the help of some elves, making sure everything is in its place so some fat guy can eat my delicious cookies and make a mess of my house, then my son can wake up the next morning and thrash through gifts from our family. If you’re a parent, it’s surely a familiar scenario for you. But what to do after the gift-opening frenzy, other than build elaborate toys and carefully place stickers within the guidelines of plastic molds?
I think we have a new tradition, on top of the cookies.
(Everything is on top of cookies. We surely can’t go without cookies.)
The holidays were extra special this year, because my sister and brother-in-law stayed with us. My brother-in-law is outdoorsy in a way that I feel like mentioning anytime he comes up–“Yeah, he climbs mountains. That’s his thing. He climbs ’em all over the world and ice climbs with picks and all” and my sister, Somer, is a really talented photographer. So they were more than willing to do some day trips and exploration. YAS.
After the hurricane of gift opening, we were lazing about and figuring out how we’d spend the rest of the day. I mentioned a few Connecticut state parks, and wondered aloud if they would be open or not. Next thing I knew, it was decided. We were heading to Sam’s Point in Minnewaska State Park in NY. It’s almost exactly two hours from our home here in CT.
It’s a bit of a drive, but it’s scenic, like most drives here. When we finally get there, this is what we see on a closed gate to the parking area:
So, we get back in the car that we’ve parked in a no parking zone. We’re trying to figure out our next move when another car pulls up. They’re from Pennsylvania, and just as surprised as we are. They begin looking for alternatives as well, when a third car shows up, parks in our same no parking area, and confidently strides past this closed off area.
I catch up with them, careful to not bust my face on the iced road, and ask if they’re familiar with the park and if they think it’s okay to leave the cars there. They let us know that they hiked through last Christmas, and said they’d be surprised if a tow truck found us all the way out by this entrance on Christmas.
They had a point. So, we were off to Sam’s Point.
It wasn’t a strenuous hike at all, but it was very icy. With the conditions we experienced, I wouldn’t recommend the hike to a child much younger than my son. He and I both wore YakTrax on our boots. That being said, if they were open, they might’ve plowed the trail. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I don’t have all the info, I’m just giving you what I’ve got!
The view from the top was stellar.
Tobias was a good sport about posing. He isn’t always. It helped that he brought a friend along.
Here’s one of Somer’s photos.
One of the features that led us to Sam’s Point was the ice caves and the waterfall. The other hikers who we followed in had mentioned those trails had been closed off due to recent fires, and other signage near the entrance mentioned something about the safety of the biodiversity as well.
We’ll park where we aren’t supposed to, but we aren’t careless hikers. We carried on to other things.
Ok, maybe a little careless. Just not about biodiversity!
The next two are Somer’s images, too. Maybe one of these days I’ll figure this photography stuff out like she has.
There’s so much focus this time of year on shopping and expressing love through material ways. It used to really turn me off to the holidays, but now I see that I can do it differently with my own family. Yes, there’s gifts and magic and cookies. But there can also be nature, activity, and family.
Hiking with kids isn’t always fun. You go out there, hoping to be at peace with nature, and you find that your kids will entertain themselves by being menacing or finding the most annoying/life threatening thing they can do with their current environment.
It’s not the peaceful walk in the park you get with your dog, we’ll just say that. It helps when the adults outnumber the children, and everyone can have the experience they want. That means moms and aunts take photos before you smash rocks into ice for thirty minutes (and still get upset when it’s time to move forward), uncle gets a little bit of bouldering in, and for just a little while, mom can hang back and get a little of that ever-elusive peace.