A Stroll in the Mangroves

This weekend we ventured out to the coast and did some hiking in a beautiful mangrove swamp. Yes, you read that right: we hiked in the mangroves! Best of all, we didn’t even get muddy! Well, except for M who took a corner too fast and his legs slid out from under him in the one muddy spot along the trail. Oops! On this excursion we hiked a total of 2.5 miles and got to climb a few hills in the process. I won’t go into too much detail about the park here, but plan to see a new feature on our Park’s page about Emerson Point Preserve soon! I found this park and trail using the Alltrails App.

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After D and I discovered that our old hiking boots were too far gone to wear anymore (the sole of one of D’s fell off during a recent hike, and upon digging mine out of the garage I discovered that their soles were rotting away as well), we decided that it was time to invest in some new boots. D got a pair of Merrell Moab FST Mid Waterproof Hiking Shoes and I got a pair of Columbia Women’s img_7232Newton Ridge Plus Amped Waterproof Hiking Boots. We also found a pair for K recently; she has the Merrell Capra Mid WP Hiking Boots – Kids‘. She especially loves them because they are pink and purple and as we discovered today, complement the beautyberries we found along the trail perfectly. We are still deciding on what to get for the twins, but for time being their sneakers have been working just fine. M has a pair of hiking boots that I found on clearance last year at a shoe store that was going out of business. I honestly don’t even know what brand they are. They are incredibly lightweight, but very stiff. He says he loves them, though, so he wears them every time and no complaints so far!

We intended on making this a short trip but after taking in all of the beauty this trail had to offer, we decided to stay a little longer than originally planned. This was one of my favorite hiking trips yet this summer – and the children agree! It was an awesome trail, and throughout the 2.5 mile trek we walked through an incredible variety of landscapes! We started off on a shady oak trail that led us into the mangrove tunnels, then made our way into an open area scattered with pines – this was my favorite part! You could literally smell the pine needles in the air and it almost, kind of, just slightly felt like the beginning of fall (except, you know, it was insanely hot because: Florida). We continued on and stumbled upon some Native American earth mounds amid live oaks and fig trees just before making it back to the parking lot. There were boardwalks rising up the mounds, with informative signs depicting Native American history, life, and artifacts.

There was so much to see on this excursion – from boardwalks to overlook towers, andimg_7289 blue crabs to raccoons. The terrain was a little rougher than what we are used to, but despite the added elevation changes everyone had an amazing time! There were several places where trees grew sideways and we had to find our way around, over, and under them. We had to climb up and down hills, and both Rh and Ry learned that running down hills is no easy task! The twins tried to follow M and K as they barreled down the hill. “Stephie, that was scary!” Ry said after he managed to stop by colliding with K at the bottom of the hill. Rh came behind him. Rh is a brave kid, but his coordination could use a bit of fine-tuning. At the bottom of the hillimg_7190 he found himself toppling head over heals as he tried to slow down. Luckily, his backpack absorbed nearly the entire fall and he came out with one tiny little cut on his knee. We rinsed him off, gave him some first aid care, and from that point on, neither of the twins ran down the hills again. M, of course, thought it was a great time “Mommy, I went down soooo fast and then I got to the bottom and was like ‘eeeeerrrrccchhh’ and I stopped way over there!” he exclaimed when I asked him how it felt to run down the hill.

I also want to just hop on my soapbox for a minute here and say that it’s totally gross when people leave litter lying around the trails – especially trails that actually  have trash cans at regular intervals! There were trash cans at each deck, parking lot, pavilion, etc. here and yet we still found garbage lying around. img_7229This is absolute insanity to me! We literally found used baby wipes laying on the ground right next to the water. First of all, if you are going to dispose of items that have fecal matter on them, please do so far away from bodies of water (and do it in an actual trash receptacle). Second of all: no one wants to see these items along the trail! We are hiking in nature to see nature, not to see nature covered in and contaminated by human waste. Gross! Luckily, we had a grocery bag handy so we were able to safely pick up the wipes and transport them to the nearest garbage can. Anyways, I know that the majority of people who go to the parks are responsible stewards of our natural areas – otherwise there would be an overflow of garbage literally all over the trail. I just wanted to put in my two cents because it’s something that I do feel strongly about and we can easily prevent a lot of this type of litter.

D turned into a semi-professional photographer today since my phone battery was running low and I was using it to record our Alltrails data. Towards the end of the trip, he was actually laying on the ground just to get the perfect shot – and he did a great job! Maybe he’ll take up some amateur photography in the near future!

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