Saturday, March 26, 2011
Mud, Snow and Snakes
Last Friday, Mike and I headed up to GVSU to watch the high school aged children compete in the First Robotics Competition. The team did really well, but the younger girls got bored watching after a few hours. To break up the day, Mike and I took the youngest 3 girls letterboxing during the lunch break. We headed to River Park to search for the Spinx.
The park is beautiful and has viewing towers and a lovely playground. We ate lunch in one of the towers and then let the girls play on the playground equipment for a short time. After our break, we were excited to get on the trail. The trail began in a small wooded area and then went across a large swampy area. Mike started to cross the swampy area, but quickly turned back. The snow had all melted in the area and the grass was saturated with water. Certain areas were also quite muddy.
I decided to see how far I could make it across (wearing my new leather clogs.) About 20' in my shoes were underwater and covered with gray mud. I quickly made my way back to solid ground and suggested that we take off our shoes and socks. We could quickly cross the swampy area and then put our shoes and socks back on our feet. No one was interested in my suggestion.
Discouraged, we headed back to the playground area. After a few minutes of looking at the map, Mike suggested that we try to located the box working the clues backwards. The first part of the path was covered in snow and ice. We slid back and forth as we climbed the first hill, but eventually made it to the top. A large field was the next area we had to cross. There were several hawks flying over our heads. One was carrying a snake!
Mike spied another snake, sunning itself next to the walking path. He suggested that we turn back, but I bravely told him to carry on. After passing the snake, we entered the forest. The trees were bare and lots of leaves were lying on the ground. Paige and Allie discovered a chipmunk scurrying away. The girls chased the chipmunk, but couldn't keep up with him.
At the fork, we continued to follow the directions backwards. Then I realized that we needed to identify beech trees. I don't know what a beech tree looks like, especially when there are no leaves to help eliminate the trees I can identify. No one in our group knew what a beech tree should look like. Everyone could identify a birch and maple and oak, but no knowledgeable beech lovers were present.
We continued to follow the path in a large loop and may have discovered the beech trees, but unfortunately we needed to head back to the venue to watch the competition. We raced back to the van, passing another snake on our way and made it back in time for the children's first match. Allie had fallen down an icy hill, landing in the mud. We had seen three snakes and had not found the letterbox. It was still a good time and we look forward to returning when the weather is a little better with a tree identification book!