Today I packed up the boys and we went on our first, of hopefully many, Saturday Adventure. Cody got to pick what we were going to do because it is his birthday weekend. (I'll write about that a little later.) Last night he chose to go hiking in Sedona. He didn't care what trail we hiked.
Zack enthusiastically jumped in to help decided where we would go to. After all, he wanted to use this as an opportunity to earn more electives in Scouts. In no time at all, we had our trail guide map opened up and sprawled on the carpet while the two of us laid in front of it and contemplated which trail we would go on based on difficulty and length of the trail.
We messaged Grandma Karen and invited her to come along with us. This was going to be perfect! It didn't take long for the three of us to decide on hiking West Fork Trail, just North of Sedona in the beautiful Oak Creek Canyon. We have hiked this trail a few times before but it has been a long time. So I thought it would be the perfect trail to get us started on hiking again. A little familiarity is never a bad thing.
Zackary and Maddox excitedly began getting ready for the morning. They laid out their clothes, complete with extra socks and underwear in case they got wet. Zackary pulled out his Scout book and special papers to see what he needed to pack to be able able to get things signed off. He was jazzed to be bringing a first aid kit, flashlight, whistle, compass, jacket, and more. He and Maddox had their necessities laid out on the piano.
I'd like to say they got prepared quickly. Realistically it took about an hour. They had a hard time understanding that you can't bring your toy octopus or your blanket in your backpack. Or that they couldn't bring the rest of the entertainment that is normally stored away in their bedroom. They could only bring what they needed ... plus a small security blanket that must go everywhere with us.
Just as I do every night - I sung to my sweet boys, wrote a message on their glow-board, turned on their glow light and sleepy music, and hugged and kissed them goodnight. As I was walking out of their room I reminded them that they needed to have their room cleaned up before we could leave in the morning. They quickly agreed, and I closed their door smiling. It was only about 1 1/2 hours past their bedtime.
Cody has been hiking pretty regularly and felt confident that he was ready to go. He filled his Camelback with water and put it in the fridge. I did the same with Zackary's and was thankful for the visual reminder that I needed to do that as well. He was in bed shortly after his brothers. He gave me my goodnight hug and kiss, smiling because he knew the next day wouldn't be just like every other Saturday we have. His eyes beamed with their own excitement.
The boys were in bed. I cleaned up the house and put more water bottles and juice boxes in the refrigerator. Everything that could be taken care of before morning was set.
Just after 7am, Zackary and Maddox came delightfully into my room. They were fully dressed and ready to walk out the door. I smiled at them and said good morning. With huge smiles on their faces they told me that their bedroom was clean and the bed made. They were ready to go. Check Check Double Check. I thanked them for doing such a wonderful job and told them I was staying in bed until 7:30 (I didn't get in bed until after midnight.).
When I woke up, Zackary had cleaned up his part of the bathroom, dusted the front of the house, and was offering to help Cody with his chores. This was amazing to me. I made cream of wheat with turkey sausage for breakfast. They all gobbled it down. Zackary helped to decide and pack our lunches for the day. Everything was ready and it was 9am. I dolled up for the day and double-checked to make sure everything was ready. Grandma pulled up just after 10am and we drove off shortly after that.
We pulled to West Fork Trail and paid our $9 entrance fee. Well, $10 because I bought a trail map for feature reference. Last minute use of the restroom was made and we were off! Shortly after starting the trail you pass through a small orchard and ruins from the Mayhew Lodge that burned down years ago.
The boys enjoyed exploring the old ruins and the river that runs by it. Then we explored the old storage room that was carved in the rock and the chicken coop just under that. The boys thought these were all awesome. I actually brought a camera and snapped some fun photos of the boys exploring. They probably would have been thrilled if we just left it at that and went back home.
After exploring the ruins we moved along our hike. It was a little chilly and we were all glad that we brought our light jackets/sweaters. I held Maddox's chilly little hand and Grandma Karen held Zack's. The boys found sticks to hike with about as fast as metal connects to a magnet. Zackary found a giant leaf that we hid by the bridge so we could grab it on our way back.
Their were several parts of the trail that were covered with slick ice. Cody led the way as our official "Trail Eater", telling us what to watch out for. Zackary read all the trail signs and told us what they meant and showed us the trail markers as we approached them. Cody pointed out a tree that was kind of orange in color. He said that trees like this smell like vanilla. Vanilla? We each climbed up to the tree to get our noses close to the bark. He was right, it really did smell like vanilla! I learned something new today.
We crossed the icy cold stream in 4 different places, carefully placing our feet on the rocks and logs/branches so we wouldn't fall in or get our feet wet. Cody was a big help through many of the areas that needed extra caution.
After about 2 miles we stopped on some nice rocks and ate lunch. Cody climbed to the top of a gigantic rock while Maddox and Zackary broke up the thin layer of ice that covered the stream with their sticks. Maddox accidentally stepped thigh deep in the icy water when he was trying to move to a different rock to stand on. Grandma helped me as I quickly stripped him down. She wrung out and laid out his wet clothes as I bundled him up and got his half naked little body warmed up.
We decided to head back shortly after Maddox was warmed. We placed the extra socks we brought on his feet and hands. Cody's extra socks were so large on Maddox that they almost worked like pants. I picked up Maddox and he wrapped his arms and legs around me as Grandma zipped him into my sweater. And we were off again.
Our 2 miles hike back felt like 10 minutes. It was really more like 35 minutes. Maddox and I did just fine. Zackary got his foot wet during one of our stream crossings and then slipped on the icy path. I was super grateful Grandma was there to help him and make sure he was okay. Grandma also held my arm so we could have each other's support through the slick, icy trail parts. We were both grateful for that as we both needed it several times.
As crazy as it was, it was a lot of fun. We made it back to the car and got the boys ready to go. Zackary changed into his dry socks - which were now really warm because Maddox had been wearing them on his hands. Maddox was able to cover up in his car seat with a blanket he left in the car and was suddenly very cozy. Cody turned on his ipod and was lost to the world driving home.
I can't wait to go out again next week! Zackary is already trying to figure out what he wants the adventure to be. And even though the boys were cold, and had slid on the ice or got wet ... they each had a great time. They loved looking at the photos we took. I loved seeing the joy on their faces. I finally feel as though we are a family with memories in the making.