Friday, January 12, 2018

Nature Day: Green Gorge, first school hike of 2018

When I committed to homeschooling Jack, one of my goals was to make sure we had plenty of time available to be out in nature. I found a nature study that I thought would support this goal, and we set out to do weekly hikes, just the two of us, when possible.

Our curriculum is Exploring Nature with Children, and it is really just a guide to give us purpose in the woods. And while we talk about different themes from the guide each week, we also enjoy one anothers company, the solitude of the woods, and the time together without distraction.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that our days aren't a race. We don't have to rush through the hike to get to the next thing. We can stop and climb all the rocks or look at what Jack is interested in looking at. And do be honest, these hikes are probably the best part of the school week.

When we kicked off this hiking tradition, we started at Green Gorge. This little park with a two-mile, figure-eight trail, is located on the street behind our house. You can walk to it from our house if you choose. Jack and I normally have plans after our hike, so we just drive and park at the trailhead.

We typically do the loop of the trail that has the swinging bridge. I think on our next visit we will do the entire figure eight.

This trail is nice because it is relatively flat. It is perfect for kids because it is fairly short. It follows the creek the entire way and there are bridge crossings. When it is warmer, Jack likes to wade in the creek.

Initially Jack was dragging his feet about going hiking. It was a really foggy day and he thought it wasn't good weather for hiking. My motto follows forest kindergartens, "There is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices."

With much grumbling we set off. Jack was surprised that the fog didn't seem to be as dense in the woods. Once we got started he found that he enjoyed seeing the woods from a different perspective.

As usual, he was determined to cross the creek on stones. I reminded him that it was cold and he would not be happy if he got wet, but still allowed him push his own limits.

I love walking on this trail as the creek babbles happily beside me. Jack likes that there is a small section of bluffs that he can climb up, and we have special trees that we always stop so that Jack can sit in and climb.

Often Jack runs ahead of me and we will whistle back and forth. This gives him some autonomy and lets me know where he is and he knows he should stop and wait for me if the whistles get too far away.

I'm pretty sure he would run the entire trail if I let him. I look forward to watching these woods change over the course of this year and the years to come.

Check back on Thursdays to see where our nature studies have taken us...
Previous Nature Hikes with Jack:
September: Green Gorge, Althaus Park, and Mabbit Springs
October: Reflection Riding Center (Monday Nature Day with friends) ⎮ Joyce Kilmer Wilderness Among Trees (hike we did as a family) ⎮ Greenway Farms Nature Day (family archery lesson and hike)
November: Glen FallsMushroom Rock (with Mommy and Daddy) ⎮ Raccoon Mountain
December: The BouldersToccoa River (family hike)⎮ Amnicalola Falls (family hike)

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