Connor and Rowan have been saying that they want to hike up of a mountain, and after hearing about 4 and 5 year olds climbing Verstovia, I decided to take them up at least part of way and see how they did. I told them we would not go all the way up, but we would see how they did. When we arrived at the trailhead and had parked our bikes, Connor were ready to start up the trail when Rowan informed me that she was not going to go. She had wanted to go earlier, so I am not sure why she changed her mind, but maybe that’s just the way 4 year olds work sometimes. I finally got her started by telling her there was a surprise for her on the way. That perked up her interested and both Connor and Rowan talked about and tried to guess what it might be as we went.
Perhaps 10 minutes or less up the trail (at a normal pace) there is a small alcove-like place alongside the trail where Goblin Gold moss grows. In one of its forms, the cells reflect light, so in low light conditions, it almost seems to have a greenish glow. Really, it’s more like a reflector on a bicycle or something, but not as concentrated, and certainly not as typical to see. When we reached it, Connor and Rowan did not seem overly impressed, though they did find it interesting.
I had told them about the first view point and thought we might possibly go that far. Connor wanted to, but Rowan seemed to have mixed feelings. She did want to see the view, but it almost seemed like she wanted to go back down just on general principles. I kept her motivated mostly by reminding her about the view and mentioning how big the steps were and how they were probably way too big for her to climb up. She showed me again and again that she could step right up them without any trouble. She also seemed to respond somewhat to the idea that this was practice to get stronger for future hikes when we could go all the way up. The “go pellets” (Hershey’s kisses) seemed to be well received also. Another thing they enjoyed doing on the way up (and again on the way down) was finding the trail marker diamonds on the trees and keeping track of how many we passed.
In the end, we did make it up to the view point. Both kids seemed to think it was fun seeing the town below us. Once we started down, Rowan kept up a steady pace down. We biked back home and by the end, Connor said his legs were getting sore. I think the round trip took us something like three or four hours, but I did not pay close attention. As best I could tell, from the viewpoint back to the bicycles took about 40 minutes. Connor seemed to enjoy the trip, but it was a little less clear what Rowan thought. She talked about wanting to go again and make it to the top of the mountain, but then she also said she didn’t have fun and wasn’t going to go anymore. One of the things that apparently bothered her was that she got a little sweaty.
Connor and Rowan both did very well on the trail. The first section definitely goes up, but until right before the first viewpoint, the dropoffs on the side of the trail do not seem so bad. The fact is, that hiking this trail by myself, I would not think of the trailside dropoffs at all, but I find that as a parent, it’s much easier to imagine my children tripping, falling off the trail, and tumbling down the hillside. Needless to say, that thought is not very comforting, and it was abundantly clear to me that neither Connor nor Rowan shared my concern. That said, they both walked down in a very reasonable manner, even if they were not clinging as tightly to the uphill side of the trail as I might have preferred on occasion (not that I can blame them, as I would not have done it either).