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When The Weather’s Nice, We Hike

Compared to some of the places Jack and I have lived, where winter has been as dangerous and tempestuous as a hungry snow leopard, Indiana’s winters are tame kittens. Sure, they have their needle-sharp claws and teeth, but neither are used very often. The worst Indiana typically hurls at us are gray skies (which are actually nothing to sneeze at because after three months of low-hanging, impenetrable clouds, everyone’s feeling a bit blerg). Because we get some very mild weather throughout the season, on those days, we hike.

My hiking buddy.

This week, Monday happened to get up into the upper sixties and it burned off the clouds so we gratefully received abundant sunshine. While most of the kids were at school, I mentioned to Jack that it’d be a good day for a hike. That idea percolated (for all of three seconds) before we decided to go. Even if we only had a few hours of sunshine between school ending and darkness setting, we knew it’d be worth it.


Of course, anytime a parent tells a child something will be worth it, some will believe it, while some will question every possible reason for wanting to go outside to walk. To be fair, some of them have some serious trudging around a large school building with a heavy backpack a good portion of the day. They’re tired. I get it. With some coaxing and promising that they wouldn’t have to carry anything if they didn’t want to, they got on their hiking boots and got into the van.

Usually, we go to our usual favorite spots in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. There are areas that are paved and easily accessible, though we usually choose the ones that are more remote. This time, Jack guided us to Yellowwood (not to be confused with Yellowstone), not far from our usual hiking trails. Sometimes, it’s just fun to try something different. And after spending about five minutes figuring out where the unmarked trail even started, it was fun.

Oh, Henry! Always trying to test his limits.

Indiana in the winter isn’t particularly impressive. Brown under a gray sky is… blerg. The rest of the seasons are gorgeous, but in winter, a person has to try to see the appeal. It doesn’t take much to get me to enjoy the outdoors, so when the sun is shining, the weather is pleasantly warm, and it’s still too early for biting insects, I don’t mind the monochromatic pallet that makes up the landscape.

Everyone kept their distance from Adam when he had a “walking” stick. More accurately, it was a shin-whacking stick.

As a promise to the ones who DID NOT WANT TO WALK FAR, we didn’t even make it a mile before we stopped to have the picnic dinner I packed. Hodgepodge dinners are two-fold amazing–nobody complains about what I have to offer because everyone can pick and choose what they want AND I get to clean out the fridge of all the half-eaten dips and veggies and cold meats that we’ve needed to finish, but couldn’t otherwise find a reason to eat.

Yay, candy!

We had everything from homemade ranch and cucumber slices to hummus on French bread. A can of black olives brough Evelyn out of her shell, and for the first time on the hike, she cracked a smile. Once everyone had a healthy dinner (fruits, veggies, proteins, etc), I made them REALLY happy when I pulled out a bag of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups to share. A lot of suffering can be endured for the sake of peanut butter and chocolate.

We were tempted to go further after dinner was cleaned up, but since it IS still winter, the sun goes to bed early. Instead of exploring more of the wide, easy trail, we turned back to the van, all the while promising we’d be back when we had more daylight hours.

Kate exploring off-trail.

The whole expedition wasn’t without struggle, even though it wasn’t nearly as difficult as other trips we’ve undertaken (Clingmans Dome *cough cough*). The last fifteen minutes, though, were pure heaven. Everyone was happy, and as a mother, that’s as good as a choir of angels descending from on high. It might not have been the most spectacular hike of the century, but between the cold snaps and mud and bleakness of an Indiana winter, it was definitely one of the most appreciated.

Jack bringing up the rear!

2 Responses

  1. I understand cold winters, growing up in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Canada. It is in the neck of the three great lakes, Superior, Michigan and Huron. We could get minus 20 without wind chill factor and even colder when there was wind. We averaged over 100 inches of snow each year I lived there. Ralph came back from Vietnam where it was 90 and came to Kincheloe AFB about 20 miles from where I lived at when he arrived it was -10 and had a weather board showing snowfall so far that winter at 102 feet and he thought it was a joke board. He soon learned it was not so. We lived in Nebraska for several years before going to Okinawa and loved the winters.

    1. Winters in Canada are no joke! I lived in Quebec for my mission, and the snow, wind, and cold was a whole different experience!

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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