Just west of Staunton, VA (where we currently reside) the “Great North Mountain” rises almost 3000 vertical feet from the valley floor and a large network of trails and primitive roads explores the hollows along its base. The Falls Hollow Trail is accessed directly from VA 42, a main thoroughfare that skirts the foothills of the Allegheny Range in West-Central Va. It is easy to get to, and it was a beautiful, blooming spring day, so we decided to take Sprout here for her first real hike up the mountain (a little bit). Most of the way to the falls, the hike follows a jeep trail maintained by the park service for emergencies. Obviously, our naturally excellent parenting instincts informed our selection of this particular trail if the need for a swift rescue arose. For the last quarter mile the sound of running water is evident as the footpath winds into a narrow, boulder-strewn valley up to the falls. We passed the falls, planning to take a picture of Sprout with her first water fall on the way back down, and found a nice spot along the creek to sit, read, and enjoy our lunch.
It was a bit challenging finding a comfortable position to feed little Eve, but the Therm-a-Rest that some of our Penn State friends bought for Eve helped. After Eve ate, we laid her down on the bright orange Therm-a-Rest where she gazed up into the trees above, smiling and captivated by the swaying trees and the sky above. Aaron, deciding that this was a teachable moment, gave Eve an impromptu tour of the area, giving her an up close look at the leaves, trees, and the creek. After Jacqui was thoroughly eaten by the bugs (Sprout luckily escaped unscathed), we decided to head back down the trail. Unfortunately, we were unable to get Sprout’s picture with the water fall because there was someone sketching the falls in the small clearing where the falls were visible. Oh well, guess we will just have to go back another time. Pity. We were thrilled to see that our little one enjoys the outdoors as much as we do. Looks like we will have another summer full of hiking (and the Therm-a-Rest will be joining us for them all)!