Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sassafras Trail with the In-Laws!

This last Saturday we had my favorite in-laws come and visit us!! YA!!! We went on a hike to Sassafras Trail. It was almost as beautiful as it was when we went a couple of days earlier, but it was much wetter on Saturday. Hiking is fun, but hiking with loved ones is better than having chocolate all day long. :-D We went back to the Ravine Trail we went on on Thursday and took the Sassafras Trail that breaks off from it. The water levels in the bay have been pretty low of late so we were able to do some great exploring.
    Here's the pictures that we have from our hours on the trail. It was a busy day and there were a lot of people out on the trail despite the weather. I hope you enjoy the pictures!
Lot of sun at the beginning of the day. Isn't it beautiful?!
Here we are passing the Aviary. BOY could this guy talk! He did a pretty decent cat call too. He kept saying "Hello" to the kids too. They thought he was great.
Hi Larry!!
Hi Sharon!!
On our way to the trail!
This is my mother-in-law Sharon with Eva at the beginning of the trail. We have a long way to go but a lot of fun to have in the mean time!
Isn't she one of the cutest things you've ever seen?! Good thing Grandma and Grandpa were there to keep that smile on her face!
He LOVES to "document" things with his camera. For some reason he considers this a challenge. He wants to take more pictures than I do. He's been working REALLY hard lately to do that. He's managed to take 330 pictures in two trips!
Isn't the thick carpet of leaves on the ground breathtaking? The smell was amazing too.
Here is the staircase. I showed it to you in the last post. We went up the staircase!!! Photos to follow (soon!)
The trail doubles back and forth. Good thing, it would be WAY to steep to go straight up. Especially after a night of good heavy rain.
Getting higher up! Not to the top yet though.
Nearly to the top. Can you see the people WAY down at the bottom? :-) Now it's time to head down.
Over the river and through the woods, to Sassafras Trail we go.....
On our way UP Sassafras Trail. There was quite a bit of going UP. However, it wasn't straight up and it was beautiful! I know I use that word a lot. But it's true.
Looking through to the bay through the really orange and yellow trees with sprays of red here and there. The red leaves were very intermittent. I guess red isn't in "season" this year. :-) Yellow and orange seem to be all the rage in fall leaf wear with the trees in the area this season.
These were really pretty leaves. They were green and red. The photo just doesn't do them justice.
Here's one of the few RED trees we found. This one made up for all the others not being red. It was VERY red!
This is water on the other side. You could see water from both sides for a while.
Back to the first side again. There was more water on this side (it happened to be the left hand side at the time).
This tree wasn't going to go all red. It was a little bit of a rebel though and had accents of red on it's mostly orange attire.
These trees decided to go with the bare nothing look. It's neat seeing the landscape beyond them though.
Onward and upward.
The trees on the far side are striking compared to those around them. This is the water on the right hand side. We're getting close to the "point" of Sassafras Point.
Rora wanted to be the "leader". That meant that no one could go in front of her. She said that leaders stand a certain way. She's demonstrating it for me.
This one was taken just for the clouds. Aren't they wondrous? (See, I know other words other than beautiful).
Right now we're at the top of a hill. You'll be seeing the top of this hill from the bottom shortly. It wasn't the easiest thing to get DOWN the hill.
Aurora on her way down the hill. She decided to take the road less traveled. It took her a bit to get down this way and her bottom was a little browner for the trouble.
Just to give you perspective as to how high up she was and how steep the incline was.
Now Mike has to try and get down. See the trail on the right hand side? That's the way EVERYONE but Rora took down. She was apparently braver than we were. At this point Aurora, Caleigh, Eva, Sam and I were at the bottom. We were waiting for the others, sorta.
At this point many of the photos are taken with the intention of appreciating the clouds. Is it not humbling to be able to look on SO MANY clouds that are full of enough water to drench an entire forest? To be able to feed so many plants and animals and yet remain so high above us? The are HUGE, some are miles long and so VERY tall! Yet here we are beneath them, looking up and so many of us thinking "I want the sun!", "I wish the rain would go away." I also know that there are so many people who look up at the clouds with a sense of wonder and amazement and see the way the light bounces off of them. The way that light and shadow play around them. How equally stunning are the clouds as the flowers, the birds, the animals running through the forest? How great is our God that He not only provided a way to water such vast amounts of vegetation at a time, but to make sure the animals had plenty to drink too.
Like I said before, the water was low. We crossed the rocks over to the small, tiny island on the other side. We saw a lot there considering how small it was. This is the view to where we were when the other picture was taken. It wasn't as easy as you'd think to cross those rocks, especially when you're trying to hold the hand of a 3 or 6 year old.
You remember how I was telling you about the water to the left and to the right. The top photo is the water on the left that you saw in the previous photos, this  one below is the water that was on the right in the photos.
These are trees that beavers have knocked down. They've chewed right through them.
Dead cormorant. We found several of these out there.
It's hard to tell in this photo, but the sun is hitting the trees opposite, lighting them right up.
There is a muscle shell in the water. Isn't it amazing how clear the water is?
Caleigh is holding onto a much bigger shell than the one above. She was quite impressed with it.
See the rays of light pouring through? It was awe inspiring to see.
There is a reason that those clouds are getting to be a darker shade of grey than they were previously. They are more full of rain. However, they don't feel like waiting too much longer to let it all out.
We are headed back. See how dark the sky is above the trees? The time is drawing nigh to the opening up of the heavens. Shortly after this picture was taken the rain that had been threatening made good on it's threat and the rain started so the camera went away into the messenger bag to stay dry.
On our hike on Thursday Sam and Rora had lost Sam's jacket. We went back to look for it. There had been people all over the woods cleaning up the whole time we were there and it looked as though they had been at it most of the morning. His jacket was no where to be found. However, we did see some deer! See it WAY back there? The camera went back away after this and we walked back to the van.
    The camera went away for two reasons. First, my feet were killing me at this point and the girls kept talking to me so I put it away since we were on our way back anyway. It was a good thing. About halfway back the torrential downpour began.  We were pretty well soaked. It was still pretty though! :-)
  Here are some pictures from Mike and Sam. I'll narrate when necessary.
There was a LARGE population of swans there. Sharon counted 14 or 16 of them!
There were several dead fish carcases there as well as bird carcases on the little island. These were HUGE fish with sharp teeth. We saw some swimming too.
Kind of looks like another bees nest, but the funny thing is, we don't see bees around them. I know there are types of birds that build hanging nests. Not sure what it was, but we have seen several.
This is the end of Mike's contribution. He spent more time observing and less time taking pictures. Can't say as I blame him.
 These next photos are from CALEIGH!! She really enjoyed taking pictures, these are her offerings.

Here are Sam's pictures. He took nearly 250! I won't post them all though, here are the highlights!
You would not believe how many pictures he took of this and the dead fish! More than a dozen of each! Boys and dead things. I'm not sure what the fascination is.
Head of the dead fish. Look at those teeth!
Bunches of swans.
Another dead fish. Although this one doesn't look as though it's been dead for quite as long.
Beaver chewed trees.
And there you have it. The highlights of our trip to Sassafras Point with the grandparents.

On another note. There are some who probably wonder what actual "schooling" a kid can get out of a nature hike. Well, aside from the obvious appreciation for nature and exploring the wilderness there is a lot to observe in nature that you can read about in books but can't really appreciate until you're out in it.

In the fall you can learn about erosion. You'll notice in the pictures from today and Thursday that there were photos as the beginning where the sides of the hill were eroded and the roots of trees were exposed. There were plenty of fallen trees that were in various stages of decomposition as well as many new trees in various stages of development. It's also a good time of year to observe leaves falling off the trees and putting the "why" from the books into observation and seeing it in action. It's the life cycle of trees.
  There's also the animal element to it. What kid doesn't love animals? Birds are migrating and squirrels and chipmunks and other animals are getting ready for winter. Some are preparing for hibernation while others are putting up stores for the winter for when there is nothing growing. The leaves falling from the trees is part of a trees' preparation for winter as well.
 The list goes on and on. There's exercise and knowledge to be had out in the woods. You learn to appreciate how everything works together for the seasons to change. Could this have happened by chance? No. These things work together so flawlessly that it's impossible that it could have happened by chance.  A divine creator had a plan and executed it flawlessly. Our bodies themselves are evidence of this and the world around us and the way one thing depends upon another is only further proof to those who are willing to see it. The Bible tells us that there will be those who don't want to see.
 2 Peter 3:5 "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:" 

 Mark 4:12 so that, "'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'"

Romans 1:20 " For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."

 Psalm 14:1 says that "the fool says in his heart there is no God." How can anyone look around them, see the stars in the sky, the way the earth and all that are in it prepare for winter, without any help, the way everything grows anew in spring.... how can you look at these things and not KNOW that they were made this way on purpose?   

  Psalm 8:3-4 says "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers. The moon and the stars which you have ordained. What is man that you are mindful of him? The son of man that you visit him?"

Romans 1:18-25 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown [it] to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible [attributes] are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify [Him] as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools,and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."

 God ordained creation. He put everything exactly where it is supposed to be and when ANYTHING moves from where it was ordained to be things fall apart. Is that not evidence of a creator?  Is it really so hard to believe? Is it easier to believe that it happened over the course of millions, maybe billions of years? That one thing "evolved" into another? That somehow all evidence of the evolution is GONE! That after death is nothing? That life here is all there is? It can't be and it isn't and walking into the quiet brilliance of nature, observing how everything works together and how the big things need the little things, how can one look and know and not see?

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