As the snow finishes melting in the woods, the creeks and falls really come to life. One spot Brady P. and I can easily go to is Manganese Falls.
But we don't always go to the upper part like most people. Nope. We are not most people. We go under the bridge like little trolls. We sit in the shade among the pines and cedars as the last rush of the falls bubbles by. He throws pine cones into the froth, and I enjoy the peace, sounds and seclusion.
If you are bummed that I am not going to focus on the upper falls, please visit this post from A Little Slice of Da Harbor blog for a video of Manganese Falls from the past.
Because here, you're going to go on an adventure with me and my three-year-old.
Last week we hiked down to the bridge at the lower falls from Manganese Road. Do you know where that is? Turn onto Manganese Road at the Post office. Less than half a mile from there, a two-track gravel road veers off to the left. In about 1,000 feet, you'll come to a sturdy bridge that leads to the Kamikazee Trail (which I don't believe is currently maintained).
But that bridge goes right over the bottom of the falls. Here is a picture of that spot from this week.
Then we ducked down under the bridge to our serenity. Braeden doesn't like it as much as I do because there are no rocks to throw.
So the two-track to get there was an obstacle course last week. B was out of the stroller, walking. I pushed an empty stroller (someone had to!).
We came across a down tree. It laid along the ground.
"Braeden, what do we do?" I asked him. "We have to get to the other side of that tree!"
He stopped for a moment. Then put two hands on the top of the tree, swung one leg over, then swung the other leg over.
"You made it!" I exclaimed.
Up ahead, we found another down tree, but this one was at an angle, partially off the ground and covered in pointy, broken off branches.
Braeden eyed this one up a little more pensively. He put two hands on the trunk, but one got poked by a sticker branch.
"Ah!" he looked up at me, rubbing his hand.
"I will help!" I said instinctively. And I almost carried him right over it, but I stopped. I knew he could do it, and I wanted him to problem solve.
I repositioned his hands on the trunk.
"Find the smooth parts, Braeden," I told him. "Good! Now swing one leg over. You can do it."
Instead of doing it for him, I coached him as he tried to figure it out himself. He did it.
Later we came to another tree that was suspended at the height of his forehead. I laughed when he just walked right into it and bumped his head. I really thought he saw it there.
"Ah!" he shouted, disapprovingly, rubbing his noggin.
"How do we get past this one, Braeden?" I asked.
He ducked and crawled through. Perfect. I did the same and made sure he saw me.
So that was fun. It was great to see him problem solve in the woods. Those are precious "common sense" skills that seem to be dying off in today's society, so he needs to learn them.
Now this story is funny to me because, on Monday, I had to do the problem solving in the woods.
Instead of taking the clear road like usual, I decided to take the JLG Trail. Now, I haven't done that since Braeden was in my belly. It's no wonder I don't take that way. It goes through private property, is not maintained and has a pond in the middle of it in the spring time.
I knew all those things. But I am stubborn, and I like adventures and challenges. So I decided to go for it.
I pushed him in his stroller, so he was contained. He shouted each time I thrusted the wheels through the mud or tilted his cart into uncomfortable angles or accidentally bumped something or went over a bunch of branches or had to carry the whole rig over a log.
He was not happy.
Pictured above was the biggest obstacle... at least I hoped it was!
Plenty of shouting from a little boy and one sweaty, panting mama later, we made it through! Hooray!
We crested the hill to get out of the bog, and Braeden quieted down a bit. That was perfect because, guess what I came across.
A full-bloomed patch of Arbutus.
I have a couple patches that I've been keeping an eye on this spring, but none of them looked like they would blossom by the time I left Copper Harbor today. Sniffing their fragrant scent each spring is one of my favorite activities.
So there I was. Eyeballs deep in a patch of Arbutus.
That is climactic moment for a wildflower enthusiast, all right!
I figured that was my reward for enduring the screaming bog and other obstacles along a recently neglected trail. I'll take it!
The next ironic part was that, as we hiked back up the usual two-track to the road, all those trees were cleaned up! Ha! So Brady P. got to throw his frisbee in the clear the whole way back home. Well, almost the whole way. I had to put him back into his stroller when he got sassy and refused to listen.
He definitely is a three-year-old with a mind of his own. I just want to make sure he is able to use that mind to the best of his ability. He is already making a difference in this world.