February 2, 2015

My sons are now finally old enough that we can go places without having to constantly "squat down and chase," "hold on to their hands for dear life," or bellow a familiar panicked parent's two word chorus, like "Watch Out!" or "Be Careful!"

This is the best age ever, pre-teen, where they still think it is cool to hang out with their parents, where they're more independent, more adept problem solvers, and have more stamina to go on adventures or long hikes without us having to give them a piggy back ride on the way back (however, I already miss those piggy back rides...)

This is our goal for this year! Long hikes, canoe trips, camping, rock climbing... Away from all the tablets, annoying apps, and the "how to" videos about building a whole city out of blocks...

If you haven't gone on a hike, you must! It's an awesome adventure and workout at the same time! When we go on hikes as a family, we lose track of time! You get so enchanted by cascading waterfalls, majestic lakes, unusually twisted trees, unstable creek rocks you have to cross, scurrying animals you find on the way, that everything else (including all your worries!) just goes away, and it is just us enjoying God's creation, our family, and taking in each and every little bitty experience we have along the way.

Plus, if you are thinking about losing some extra pounds this year, why not hit the trail? Did you know you can burn up to 1,000 calories for a two hour hike?

So, a few weeks ago, when the cold weather finally decided to break for a weekend, we went hiking at the Artist Point Falls Trail.

Artist Point Falls is located about eight miles north of Mountainburg on scenic Hwy. 71, AR. This is a private trail, about 1.2 miles roundtrip, but the owners welcome hikers! The trail is located behind the Artist Point Gift Shop (the shop and trail belong to the same folks), so there's a place to park in front of the shop. Make sure to stop at the gift shop first to sign in and buy some rich and chocolatey, homemade fudge! It's melt in your mouth delicious! We bought one for our hike, and the fudge was so yummy that we bought two more pieces when we got back!

Once you sign in, and start the hike, you will see a gorgeous view from the back end of the gift shop overlooking some of the Lake Ft. Smith valley. Spend some time there and take some pictures! The trail is a bit steep heading down to the woods and waterfall area, but it's so worth it! There are some Indian carvings in the rocks along the way, a natural bridge of stone, and two waterfalls! Because of the cold weather, there wasn't much water when we went; however, near the waterfall there were some huge, spectacular icicles, quite breathtaking! Since the trail back is steep, you'll definitely get a great workout from this hike!

What's next? Well, we're planning for some more hiking and camping trips to several falls in the Ozarks! And guess what? A few years from now, my husband and I are committing ourselves to a 3 week non-stop journey hike of the Ozark Highlands Trail! That one will take more prep... I know... and probably without our boys...well, who knows? Maybe they will join us and still think we're cool to hang out with!

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