Thursday, September 8, 2011

Our Labor Day Adventure

I told my husband a few weeks ago that I'd like to take Michael to the state park (near) where I grew up. It's a beautiful place that once was home to a magnificent hotel owned by a wealthy businessman, but a fire started one night and burned it down. The remains are referred to as the "castle ruins" and they overlook a beautiful blue spring. The area around the castle is wonderful, hilly, karst land with fantastic trails. When I was a kid the trails weren't complete in some places and I remember being terrified of climbing around on the grip rings in the rocks. Now I try to spot the old grip rings when I walk by on the wooden platforms. There are lots of caves too and you can do some serious splunking if you go during the right time of the year (most of the caves are only open a day or two in the winter for the sake of the bats). There is even a natural bridge.

Me and my friends used to hang out there all the time. Oh the stories I could tell... but I won't because that time is gone. But it's definitely a place that I wanted to take Michael and it was beautiful on Labor Day so we went down then.

First we went to the castle ruins. Michael really wanted to climb down in the castle.

The spring below.

So next we went down to the spring trail. The spring comes out into an area with a small, but vertically challenging island in the middle of it. We broke off onto one of the island trails. Ok, so really the trail isn't that challenging, but I was wearing a 33 pound toddler on my back and that makes everything (a lot) harder... this is no place for strollers, not even the Chariot.(Not that challenging, however, if your are from Kansas the hills around here could be lethal.)

Near the top of the island is Balanced Rock.

Looking back up at the castle ruins. Do you get a sense of the vertical nature of where I grew up? Yes, I'm a hill person.

Ducks in the spring area.

The spring outlet.

We turned back when we got to the spring because I didn't want to take the stairs (316 steps) back to the castle (actually that's just the first set of stairs, there are even more than that to get all the way to the castle). On a good day, they are challenging, and they even have a warning about not taking them if you are pregnant or have a heart condition, but with a baby on my back, they would have killed me. I didn't bother taking a picture, but I wish I would have since I can't seem to find a good one on the internet.

Finally we went down to the natural bridge. That's a nice short trail and it was quiet when we got there.

Looking at it from the other side.

There are a ton of places that we did not go, but a couple of hours was enough for us that morning. We went to my parent's house to let Michael take a nap and visit before going home.

This weekend we have another cool trip planned, and I'm completely stoked about part of it!!! I will definitely be posting about it next week.


Sophie said...

That is beautiful! It almost looks like you all visited another country--could've fooled me :).

Michelle said...

I love the pics. Looks like you are having some fun adventures!

Chelle said...

What a beautiful place to visit!! I love the pictures, Michael is getting so big!!

I didn't mean to worry you in my absence! Thank you for still being here. :)

Anonymous said...

I love ruins! That place looks awesome! I might need to email you and find out where that place is, if S has a job near there. I'm glad you had a good time!