March 24, 2022
Total distance walked: 1.65 miles
It was a mild spring morning in Madera County. I had the pleasure of hiking with my daughter, Julia and her kids in an area known as Eastman Lake; a reservoir run by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE).
A four-mile trail runs through oak-studded foothills offering a view of the lake. The trail ends at the Raymond Bridge, but that was too far to walk with young ones, ages 2 and 3.
Though I’ve been hiking with my grandchildren before, the kids were always in strollers. This time they were hiking on their own.
Julia’s family were familiar with the area having been there twice before. Once out of their car seats, the kids ran to the information board and grabbed their “maps” which were actually pamphlets about fishing and mountain lions. With maps in hand, we set out, slow and easy, on the rutted dirt path. The trail follows a ridge above the lake.
A field of fiddleneck surrounded us just steps into the rolling hills. I must have let out an exclamation of joy because Julia said, “See Alden, I told you Gramma would love this hike.” She was right. The hills were filled with wildflowers. I was excited to name them, but the little ones were not quite as eager to listen.
The kids spent lots of energy running back and forth between their mom and me. Every so often we’d stop to hear the birds.
Not far into the hike, Alden decided that it was break time. He sat in the first slice of shade he saw and wouldn’t get up.
Then a swarm of flies startled Aubrey. Stopping dead in her tracks she cried, “Bees!” Mom had to carry her for a while.
There were many obstacles on the trail such as rocks, roots, and ruts. The kids maneuvered them with ease. As we rounded a sharp downhill corner, I thought, what if they fall down the hill? Reason said they would not, they had been doing well, but my imagination said otherwise. The view that opened before us took my mind off anyone taking a tumble.
The USACE measured out every quarter mile with a marker. Though Alden couldn’t read them, he knew that we were getting close to the spot where he stopped in the past for a snack.
After snack, we continued the walk to an outcropping of rocks, our turn around point.
The morning had warmed considerably. The closer we got to the end, the more tired the kids became. Julia carried Aubrey, and Alden, with encouragement marched up the hill to the car.
Spending the day in nature, enjoying the fresh air with my grandchildren and daughter was a joyful, memorable experience. I look forward to more exciting adventures with them.