Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Shenandoah National Park Jr Ranger

As I mentioned in my 5th grade plans post, I'm making more of an effort to be more consistent with our field trips this year. And we're off to a good start! The plan is to go to NPS sites every other Monday, and this past Monday was the first field trip day.

For our first field trip, we went to Shenandoah National Park. We've been before, but Sunshine hadn't completed the Jr Ranger program yet, so it was time to change that. We've been having sweltering weather again so it was nice to escape to the cooler temperatures of the mountains. The cooler temps were especially appreciated on our hikes.

hanging out with the CCC worker statue
the CCC workers built Skyline drive through Shenandoah Park during the great depression

We did two hikes while we were there. The first was about a half mile section of the Appalachian Trail, so the kids can say they hiked part of it. Though they don't get why that's so cool, yet. Before we moved east I read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, and it sparked my curiosity about the AT. Not that I have the desire to thru hike the AT, but it would be cool to hike it for a couple days. When the boys are older of course, we're not that crazy.

hiking the AT

group selfie with the cement AT trail marker. love Ocean's perplexed look :)

Our second hike was to Dark Hollow Falls, which is near the Big Meadows Visitor Center. The maps say it's a 1.4 mile round trip, but we hiked to the very bottom of the falls, to the fire road, which I think is farther than 1.4 miles. I didn't have my Garmin on, but I'm guessing it was about 2 miles all together. Not super long, but while you hike down for a mile, you have to hike a mile back up to get to the parking lot. The kids did great on the hike, but we did have to talk River out of splashing in the all the water- he loves water and really wanted to play in it.

We attempted the Jr Ranger program years ago, but found it frustratingly difficult to figure out the answers they wanted. We ran out of time before finishing it and lost the booklet sometime in the intervening years.

Luckily for us, they've updated the Jr Ranger booklet and it is much easier to understand and figure out what they're looking for. Sunshine finished enough activities for her to receive her Jr Ranger badge, and we brought home the booklet so she can finish the rest of the activities. Easy science lessons for the win.

River looks like he can't wait for his turn to be a Jr Ranger. I figure he should talk a bit better first, so we'll start him next summer.

Sunshine now has 16 Jr Ranger badges, plus the NPS 100th anniversary badge. 
She also has cute new glasses!

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