After a long night that involved an early celebration for the youngest and oldest among us, a late celebration for the rest of us, and finally an embarrassing display of dancing to the Jonas Brothers (shame, shame) we were up and ready to rumble by about 10am.
Last year, after a very similar celebration (minus the dancing, thank goodness) Daryl and I took the kids to the Hazel Wolf Wetlands. Over the year Daryl had explored more of the local trails so we had a bunch of options to choose from. We figured a nice mile or so around the Beaver Lake Preserve would be about right so we drove to the trailhead about 10 minutes from the house.
Wait a minute... this story is about Soaring Eagle Park. Not Beaver Lake Preserve. What gives?
Well, yeah. Just chill for a minute.
So we geared up along the misty street in front of the Beaver Lake Preserve trailhead and were soon wandering up the trail. Daryl had a map and I figured we couldn't possibly get lost on such a simple trip so although my GPS was on I didn't have a route plotted or anything.
Pretty quickly, though, it didn't feel quite right and we found ourselves still on a maintained trail, but not exactly sure where we were. The problem was that there are a bunch of parks in the area that are all linked together. The Beaver Lake Preserve connected to both the Hazel Wolf Wetland and Soaring Eagle Park. Although we started at one trailhead we discovered we were in fact in a different park.
And how did we make this discovery? A nice family helped us out when we asked where the heck we were. (You could almost hear them thinking, "These guys and their kids are going to be on the news tonight.") While we talked with the adults their young daughter (probably about three years old) joined our group and as we started walking away we almost adopted another child.
Once we realized we were indeed in Soaring Eagle Park (does the title make sense now?) we found the trail to be exceptionally well signed thanks to an Eagle Scout (I wonder if he could fly) and his project that put up maps and signs at every intersection.
The legs between intersections were short so we were able to track our progress through the mostly deciduous forest with ease. At one of the signs I took a picture of the map just in case we got confused again. (Not that such a thing could ever happen to me, but I was just a third of the adult braintrust on this trip.)
Along the way the six hiking kids (Henry was riding on my back) played with the four walkie talkies that Lex and Jack had. Range was pretty limited, but that was probably for the best since getting far away from each other isn't really a good idea with so many little ones. Tony (Michelle's brother-in-law) was fascinated by the lush moss growing on the "fuzzy trees" since it was so different than Utah where he's from. Clara was intent on being near the front of the pack. Lilly wanted to eat snow even though what was left was pretty nasty looking.
We managed a loop inside Soaring Eagle before turning back toward Beaver Lake Preserve and the cars. In total we knocked out almost two miles with minimal whining and complaining. Gain was pretty limited, though. Only about 100 feet. Next year I think we'll have to plan for a major summit attempt. Maybe the 200 foot climb to the summit in Beaver Lake Preserve... if we can find it.