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Hiking with Kids: Prentice Cooper

The last few days have been perfect examples of how I expect autumn to be. The air is crisp, the sky is blue, the leaves are falling, and the sun is warm. It's my favorite time of the year.

With such a gorgeous day on our hands, we felt like we couldn't waste it inside, so we gathered our brood and headed to Prentice Cooper State Park for a little walk in the woods.

Initially we planned to do a short hike from Shackleford Ridge Park to Mushroom Rock.

Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn somewhere and didn't make it to Mushroom Rock. Jack was disappointed, but since we live here, it will be easy to go back again.

This was Jack's longest hike to date – completing just under 2 miles round trip.

Almost as soon as we got in the woods he started complaining about being tired. We have discovered that he just needs a little motivation and encouragement to keep moving. And maybe a game.

I suggested he pick up the brightest red leaves he could find. It was a good distraction to keep him from whining, but it morphed into him wanting to try to pick up every leaf on the trail.

It's fall, there are a million leaves on the trail...

He also likes to throw rocks. Since that is bad trail etiquette, and he could hurt someone, we are trying to stop this before it turns into a bad habit.

So we helped him find a walking stick. The stick also doubles as a sword, amongst other things while walk.

When he says that he is low on energy, we stop for a water or snack break and then say, "Power up and Energize" like the transformers say in the TV show RescueBots.

As soon as he says it, he always starts sprinting down the trail. So much for not having any energy.

Hiking with a 3-year-old is challenging because it takes forever and requires a lot of patience and imagination to keep your kid motivated.

As for hiking with a baby, I carry Isaac on these walks (for now) and he sleeps for half the hike. When he is awake, he enjoys looking at the sunlight filtering through the trees.

Daniel wears our bigger backpack carrier in case Jack refuses to continue walking, but he is starting to build up stamina and seems to enjoy our outings in the woods.

We wrapped up our day by driving out to Cracker Barrel for supper. Jack passed out in the car and slept right up until our food arrived.

After supper, Daniel taught him how to play checkers. It was a perfect day. Power up and Energize!


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