As I previously mentioned, the Baltimore Ravens are Luke's 4th favorite NFL football team. He was excited that they were in the Superbowl. The day beforehand, we decided that we needed a break from all the inside togetherness that the winter months typically bring, and made a bee line for an NC State Park. After consulting a map of parks, we opted to trek to Lillington and introduce ourselves to the appropriate-for-the-Superbowl Raven Rock Park.
Raven Rock is a rock wall that was carved thousands of years ago by the Cape Fear River, which now flows far below it. Though there were several easy trail options at the park, we thought that we were best suited with the 2.1 mile trail that took us to Raven Rock and an overlook high above the river. The park ranger had recommended a 0.2 mile trail for a family with little kids. Ha! We're tougher than that (I thought to myself).
We loaded Will into his backpack on Nate's back (who miraculously held out very well - Will is pushing 45 lbs). We zipped coats, put on hats and gloves, and off we went.
Luke's reading skills continue to amaze us, and he *understandably* was a bit hesitant about starting our hike.
Though the boys were a bit slow-moving at the beginning of our hike, they quickly got excited with finding the next bright orange trail marker. It matched Luke and Will's winter coats.
Raven Rock and the overlook are about a mile from the parking area, on a lovely looping trail through a pine forest. We tend to choose easy trails to take with Luke and Matt on foot, and the trails at Raven Rock were a good fit. Just minimal tripping over tree roots.
As we approached, there were signs pointing us in the direction of Raven Rock. Luke read the signs to us, and everyone was excited to see the namesake destination of the park. Until we saw the steps down to actually get to the Rock. Really we weren't worried about the steps down. It was more about the reality (and pain) of getting everyone back UP those steps that we were thinking about...
But finally we made it! The rock formations were enormous - much larger than what we were expecting given the flatness of the hike to actually get to the riverbanks! We stuck around for a while, enjoying the geology, icicles, and huge masses of tree roots.
At the edge of the Cape Fear River, there was another sign to enjoy. Just in case you thought that *maybe* the trail continued right into the water...
After poking around for a bit longer, we hesitantly made our way back up those steps. I had worn a "just in case" backpack - for Luke or Matt if they got tired on our hike. As luck (or smarts?) would have it, Matt decided that he needed to get in the backpack at the base of that enormous staircase. He was ready to get back out just as soon as we were back on the path. Tough little Luke made it up the stairs all by himself.
By the time we reached the overlook, the excitement of the hike and the Rock and the steps and the river had passed. So like the prepared mama that I have become, I whipped out some snacks and water to assist with mood elevation.
That was short lived though! With less than half a mile to go, Will started crying, Luke started whining and Matt demanded to "pick you up" (which means he wants to be picked up, but NOT in the backpack). Nate and I smiled through it, and we were all happy when we reached the van!
Note to self: pick a slightly shorter trail for the family's first hike of the year!! Maybe we should have listened to the park ranger...