This weekend Cecy and I met some friends at the Native Hooved Animal Enclosure in Fleming Park. We brought our apples and carrots to feed to the buffalo and elk who roam the 110 acre fenced in area. We loved getting so close to the massive animals.
Fleming Park is the largest park in Jackson County and I got lost in it for 30 minutes trying to find the buffalo. I did some research for the next time we visit. I couldn’t find an exact address, but for those who are good with maps, I found this one. For those who rely on GPS (me!), I noticed that Missouri Town is very close and I found an address for that park attraction: 8010 E. Park Road. Lee’s Summit, Missouri 64064.
A less busy, more remote area of Rocky Mountain National Park is appropriately named the Wild Basin. We almost drove right past the entrance! Once you turn in, the road becomes more narrow and leads to dirt roads with limited parking.
On our first trip to the Wild Basin, our goal was mainly to scout out the area. We headed to the Wild Basin Trailhead and walked .3 miles to Copeland Falls. This picture of Cecy with her Daddy melts my heart.
We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed this lower elevation walk, so we came back on our next trip. On our second excursion, we went back to Copeland Falls and on to Calypso Cascades (1.8 miles from TH) then Ouzel Falls (2.7 miles from TH).
The trail follows a scenic mountain stream that you cross over several times. When we were there (early September 2015) the bridge at Ouzel Falls that leads to Ouzel Lake was wiped out from flooding. A crew was there working to rebuild.
We hiked a little off trail to find a better view of Ouzel Falls. My husband hiked an additional .2 miles (somewhat technical/not baby friendly) to the top of the falls and waved back down at Cecy and me as we played near the falls. I think Cecy really enjoyed the rushing sound of the falls and the soft mist that was coming off of it.
Beautiful Lily Lake is right across the street from Twin Sisters trailhead on highway 7. A flat .8 mile trail circles the lake. This is an easier walk for anyone who struggles with strenuous terrain. Several benches are available offering an opportunity to rest and soak in the gorgeous views. We enjoyed showing Cecy the little ducks on the lake and the pretty wild flowers that surround it. This is a spot I expect to return to again and again, especially when Cecy starts walking. She took a few cautious steps on her own yesterday – so that might be soon!
A couple of months after our wedding my husband brought me to Estes Park, CO. The first hike we went on was Twin Sisters Peaks. When we made it to the top, I looked over at the surrounding mountains in awe and instantly feel in love with the area.
Fast forward three years and we hiked the same mountain plus a baby and a sister-in-law!
I was excited to share this summit hike with my little one, but next time we will probably leave her home with a babysitter. My husband carried Cecy, but that meant I also carried a lot of weight in my pack so the three of us would have enough water, snacks and gear. Baby gear = diapers, wipes, sunscreen, hat, change of clothes … we could have over-packed!?
We were slowly chugging up the mountain with extra weight on our backs when we ran into the landslide area about 1.5 miles in. We navigated over loose rocks and a steeper slope.
Once we crossed, we found that the landslide wiped out several switch backs so we had to make it up three steep vertical climbs that were approximately 20-25 yards each. This was the part that I was most concerned about for Cecy even though my husband was very careful.
Despite the new challenges, this is such a fun hike and the views of Longs Peak from the top are truly amazing. This was my sister-in-law’s first summit hike which was very cool to share with her too.
Round trip is about 7 miles reaching 11,413 ft of elevation on the West Summit, a gain of 2,253 ft. The East Summit is slightly higher, but we decided to shorten the trip this time by going up just one side.
I bought this guide a couple of years ago as a gift for my husband at Kind Coffee, our can’t-miss coffee shop in Estes Park, CO. My favorite part of the book is the ‘destination chart’ in the appendix. Foster lists basically every destination in RMNP and it’s distance, trailhead, elevation starting point, elevation gain, and rating (grade, class and snow/ice). When we are hiking with our 10 month old, I’ve been looking for hikes that are 6 miles or less round trip and have a low grade and class rating. Foster also put together a helpful list of over 50 attractions in the book’s index under “family-friendly hiking destinations”.
Sadly, a week after I bought the guide downtown Estes Park and much of the surrounding area was hit by a devastating flood. Even though the town did an amazing job rebuilding, we’ve seen major changes in trails including one of our favorites, Twin Sisters Peak. I’ll write about our adventure with navigating the landslide damage soon!
Last week Cecy and I went apple picking at Cider Hill Family Orchard located at 3341 N. 139 Street
Kansas City, KS 66109. I can’t stop talking about how much fun we had there. The people who work at the orchard are nice and helpful. We decided to pick a peck bag which is about 10 pounds of apples and costs $8.50. Cecy loved the Apple Wagon that picks you up and drops you off by the type of apples you want to pick. They have 18 different types of apples in the orchard. When you are done, you get back in the wagon, bring your bag back to the store and pay for them there. You can also grab some apple doughnuts, apple cider slushes or other goodies in the store and enjoy them on their picnic tables.
The orchards were pretty and the apples were tasty! 10 pounds of apples is a lot of apples. Besides munching on them and adding them to salads, we made a caramel apple pie which was delicious. Here is the recipe I used from the Food Network’s Pioneer Woman.
We are back home in Kansas and excited for some fall adventures here. Last week we headed to Grinter Sunflower Farm located at 24154 Stillwell Rd. Lawrence, KS 66044. (Lawrence is the home of college basketball powerhouse, KU and my amazing sister). The farm provided a fun, beautiful landscape to take pictures for Cecy’s 10 month birthday.
I think she was a little afraid of the sunflowers at first which is understandable because some are the size of her head. According to the Grinter’s blog, the sunflowers are fading fast and they are just about ready for harvest, so I’m glad we made it out there in time!
I’m a first time Mom, so things I’ll keep in mind for next year:
Bring cash – we passed through a toll road on the way there. Also bring $1 donation in exchange for a sunflower to take home.
Wear proper shoes! I wore cute sandals and got them very muddy and I slipped around. Next year we might go with cowboy boots because they’ll look cute in pictures and will be more practical.
Wear sunscreen and bug spray.
Bring a scissor or knife to cut the sunflower with. This year I tried to just break it off like a normal flower – basically I was wrestling a thick, prickly stalk that was taller than me with a baby in one arm and ended up with half the pedals on the ground and an angry baby.
Consider bringing a step-ladder to get a better angle of the field. They had a cart with hay on it for photo opportunities, but some people brought their own ladders which gave them options to take pictures in the middle of the field.