Eventually, the endless climb came to a flattening out and we were greeted by a number of other hikers and a sign. We had made it back to the Pacific Crest Trail. Though connected to the previous trail, this trail felt different. The air was fresher. The rocks were prettier. And oddly enough, the terrain was ridiculously easier. It felt flat. It felt more open. It felt more comfortable.
Friday, October 30, 2015
Thursday, October 29, 2015
|Crows and one of the hawks|
|I swear I asked them to look miserable. :)|
|Turkeys through the trees|
|More turkeys by our favorite fallen tree\|
|Superheroes to the rescue!|
That afternoon, we continued our leaf collection and used natural items to practice addition number stories. Not only did the kids use acorns, rocks, dirt clumps, and leaves to represent numbers, they used sticks to make the mathematical symbols + and =.
|I love bare trees.|
Nature is the ultimate teacher. Every day is a new lesson and a new experience. The learning and growing never stops.
I hope my kids can leave forest kindergarten with that message ingrained in their brains.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
The warning signs were provided in the Mount Rainier National Park paperwork. Avalanche. Volcanic activity. Bears. Cougars. Rock slides. Tree hazards. I especially like the advice of "fighting aggressively and aiming for the eyes" when learning how to fight off an attacking cougar. Though reading the park map and scouting out our hike was serious business, my wife and I couldn't help but chuckle at the thought of all of these issues combining to wreak havoc on our nature time. We also reminded ourselves that we didn't have to be faster than the bear, just faster than someone else.
My wife and I began our trek on the rocky terrain, avoiding a rainbow of rocks and spiderwebs of thick, gnarly roots on our gradual and meandering ascent to the falls. As my wife mentioned, "climbing is worse than walking." Still, besides the exhausting exercise, our hearts were pounding because of the amazing views and a few unexpected treats
Now your definition of treats and my definition of treats may differ. You may think chocolate or adult beverage. My wife and I think animal encounter. Well, at least when we are hiking. Don't worry, it wasn't the predatory kind. As we approached a few other stalled hikers, we noticed why they were taking a break. Across from the ridge was a sole mountain goat. He seemed quite content on his ledge, which this picture gives little justice. One slip and bye bye goat. Did I mention those hikers were also from the Badger state? This is our second trip to a national park in the mountains. Both times our first hike took us to a waterfall. Both times we met fellow Wisconsinites on the hike.
Before we left for the hike, we were given a tip from the ranger. She mentioned that on the Comet Falls trail, there was a misleading sign that led to many missing out on a wonderful waterfall. There was a sign that read Comet Falls with an arrow and the words 200 feet. Interestingly enough, the arrow pointed right to a log bridge. On that log bridge, I snapped the first picture below. Nice waterfall, right? It was a nice waterfall, but it wasn't Comet Falls. Not even close! The ranger noted that many people interpret this sign as pointing to the falls when in fact it points to the bridge, which is supposed to take you across to the connecting trail. The trail that takes you to Comet Falls. When she said it was misleading, she wasn't joking. We crossed the bridge and noticed the trail seemed to vanish. It seemed most people took those falls as THE Comet Falls and turned around from there. Luckily, I was listening. As my wife and I used our trail eyes to find the real falls, we were blown away by the much more magnificent view shown in the second picture below. The ranger stated these falls fell nearly 360 feet from the ledge above.
|Fake Comet Falls|
|The REAL Deal|
The trip to Comet Falls was an amazing and at times painful introduction to Mount Rainier National Park.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
We moved on from natural play time to go inspect a very large fallen tree. Based on what we had discussed in our readings and our science chats, it was exciting to see what the students could point out about the tree. It is hard to remember all that they discussed but by while trying to ask the right questions, we made some very important discoveries. The students figured out bugs and fungus were primarily helping turn this once sturdy tree into soft, dusty pieces. We found grass growing out of the tree and eventually came to the conclusion that because the tree was slanted and this is where the tree formed a bowl shape this is where rainwater and dirt must have collected, making it easy for something to grow.
Upon further inspection, we noticed holes in the tree mainly at the base. The kids guessed this is where the chipmunks lived. When I asked why, they brainstormed and came up with some reasons why this would be a good animal habitat. They mentioned that the chipmunk could store food there and that the chipmunk could hide from other animals and protect itself from the rain and weather.