Go Outside and Play

Anyone in the Blue Ridge Mountains that likes the outdoors probably knows this phrase. A popular (and pretty cool) magazine called Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine uses this phrase as their calling.  It’s a simple term. But it has a whole lot of meaning. For me, it represents what I’d always rather be doing. My wife teases me for never being able to sit still. And I would always rather be not sitting still outside. We are all guilty of being slaves to the tv, computer, phone, etc. Lisa and I constantly have to check ourselves. In fact, we made the decision to cancel cable half a year ago. Besides the fact that we should be out enjoying the beautiful earth and all nature has to offer, we should be getting our children out from the electronics and into nature as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong; there are times when you just need a break and put on Brave or Frozen. We all need that. But I try to keep that the exception, not the rule.

Emma Jo is now at the age to where she can do shorter hikes. And we are taking full advantage of this. There is nothing like watching your child, that you created, see new things for the first time or get excited at the amazing things we don’t give a second glance. We could learn a lot just by watching what they appreciate and find beautiful. I moved back home after the Army cause I missed the mountains. We have amazing views here. But so often we don’t appreciate them like we should. Emma Jo and her infatuation with them is now a constant reminder of their beauty. I was on the internet (I know) looking up local places to hike that weren’t too much for an almost three year old. This part of the state is not exactly flat…. I was really stoked when I found this local place I’d never even heard of called Falls Ridge Preserve on The Nature Conservancy website. This place had an 80 ft spring-fed waterfall, caves, and one of the two trail loops was perfect for a little kid at only 0.8 miles.

We headed out one Saturday mornin. This place should only take 30 minutes to get there. Of course it took us just under an hour due to having to stop 4 times for Emma Jo. When we got there, the weather was perfect. Emma Jo took off before her feet hit the ground. There was a big field to walk through before getting to the trailhead. Emma Jo and I started exploring, while Lisa followed with Wyatt in tow.

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The waterfall couldn’t have been more than 50 yards into the trail.

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There was a little area that was perfect to eat lunch at. Emma Jo, Lisa and Wyatt showed some sweet teamwork.

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I took my GoPro and walked around at the base of the waterfall and got some cool footage and pics. Here’s one of some midges on a rock.

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The waterfall made for a cool backdrop.

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After lunch, we headed up the rest of the trail.

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At the top, we had a  really cool view of the waterfall from above. And there were other cool scenes as well.

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Although it was warm, it was still a little too early for blooms to be seen. It was still a beautiful view though and Emma Jo didn’t seem to mind…

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On the downhill half on the loop, we started to see the rock formations and small caves.

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Towards the end, the cave entrances got big enough to easily walk into. Emma Jo was fearless.

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Well, except for this one…..

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We actually saw a couple fossilized leaves. Now that was cool. Can you spot this one?

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We ended the day with a rare peaceful ride back with two sleeping kids. It was a total success and the first of many, many more hikes. Lisa and I plan on going back and doing the longer trail soon. If there’s one thing I want from my kids, it’s that they can never say we didn’t get out there and do things. I want them to say they enjoyed nature to he fullest as children. I want them to say they would rather go outside than stay inside. I want them to see and feel nature.

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