Saturday, September 24, 2016

Lost in the Woods!

Big Rock Hole Trail
One sunny day we drove to Henry Cowell State Park to meet up with some friends who were camping there. They told us to meet them at the river and to follow the Big Rock Hole trail to get there.

We start the hike at 12:30 and I bring a stroller for Willa, 3 bottles of water and a few snacks. We park at the visitor center, find their campsite and then start on the trail which is right next to their site, easy peasy.

We hike out of the shade of the forest and into the chaparral where the sun beats down raising the temp to about 80+ degrees. We make it to the observatory platform and ditch the stroller as it is too sandy to take it any further.  The trail splits and we continue on  Big Rock Hole trail for quite a while taking a few turns as there are a ton of side trails at this park.

Its really hot and Scarlett & Willa are wearing bathing suits and bad hiking shoes.  I thought this would be a short little hike to the river so I let Willa wear her princess rain boots and Scarlett chose her new school shoes.

We make it to the top of the grade, have a quick break and thankfully the trail starts to head down  into the shade of the forest. Were in about 2 miles in at this point.

Willa taking a break in the shade

We continue down, down, down for a long time and in the back of my mind I am thinking how this means we will have to return by going up up, up... I am also surprised that our friends hiked this far to the river as they are not big hikers. Luckily my girls are used to me dragging them on hikes so they are hanging in there.

Finally, we hear water and make it to this beautiful hidden river with no one to be seen. I figure we missed them and they must have left already. We take a break and play in the water for a few minutes and eat our snacks which consisted of watermelon taffy and nuts.  I make the kids save the last half empty bottle of water and rush everyone along to get back before dark as its around 2:30 at this point.

Our very own beautiful private river!
Willa starting back up the hill
We start the hike back up the steep hill and its tough going. I carry Willa for much of it and poor Scarlett drags behind, both girls hiking in their bathing suits because it was so hot. Ava has a head ache but isn't complaining which is a big help.  I think she knew I was on the edge. By the time we reach the top we are out of water and pretty tired.

We make it to a 4 way split and I wish I would have paid more attention on the way down. I quickly rule out 2 paths and am really not sure on the other two. I was pretty turned around.

I see a girl walking our way but when I ask her for directions she doesn't speak much English or Spanish for that matter. Luckily I see someone else was walking up the trail and I am about to ask him, when I see he is shouting something while holding a sign on a stick which says "911 was a hoax" The girls just stare and he keeps rambling. At this point I quickly choose the trail in the opposite direction that the weird guy went and we head down the hill.

About a mile later I have an idea where we are and it is nowhere close to where we need to be. You see, Henry Cowell has 2 different entrances and we came in through Graham Hill and we were now headed toward the highway 9 entrance which is where the main ranger station and store is located. My new plan is to get to the ranger station and get water as we are all out and extremely thirsty. At this point we spoke to a fellow hiker who confirmed we had about 1 more mile to go and was kind enough to give us his water. 1 more mile, that's nothing, but it seemed so far away.... I was so tired and shed a few tears at this point and possibly said a few cuss words as I couldn't imagine carrying Willa one more mile.

Finally, we made it to the ranger station and the kids plopped down and drank water. I asked the woman in the store for a ride to the other entrance where our car was. She said no, the rangers can't do that, and so I called our friend Leanne who happens to live 5 minutes away. She dropped everything and came to our rescue,  driving us back to our friends campsite and even walked with me to hike back up to the place where I left the stroller.

I figured we hiked between 7 to 8 miles! Once we met up with our friends we realized they meant for us to go to Big Rock River which is different than the Big Rock Trail,  Woops!   They made up for it by cooking up some hot dogs for my ravenous kids and poured me a nice cold glass of Chardonnay.

I'm now way more familiar with Henry Cowell trails and this was a cool bonding experience that they will remember forever, not to mention a great story. Now, whenever we go on a hike the kids say, is it as long as the hike when we got lost in the woods? 

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