It was such a beautiful fall day today that I decided we should go check out Devil's Lake state park, about 45 minutes north of us near Baraboo. Apparently, lots of other people had the same idea, because we had to wait in line to get into the park, then we had a hard time finding a parking place, and there was a lot of traffic on the hiking trail we chose. Before we started, the girls had to check out this fun sliding rock and log balance beam:
We did the Balanced Rock hike up the bluff on the south side of the park (a 500 foot elevation gain, entirely up rocky steps), then came down the Pothole and Grottos trails. We had to step to the side pretty frequently to let other people pass us, but Megan was by far the youngest person we saw doing this hike, and she had to tackle some pretty tall rock steps.
Megan did a fantastic job hiking and even got a few compliments from some of the other hikers. I stayed pretty close to her because some of the steps were a little slippery and the trail was steep in places with a bit of a rocky drop to one side. I caught her once when she started to slip, but she did very well the rest of the time. I don't think she was nervous at all, it was just me worrying. Periodically I would say something like "Great job, Megan!" and she would say "I know. I'm a good hiker!" When we got to the end, she said her muscles felt stronger because of all the good hiking she did.
Amelia was a very good hiker, too, and enjoyed being the leader of our group. She was responsible for following the trail (which was usually easy because we could see people in front of us), but she took her responsibilities seriously, and would announce which way the trail went at tricky switchbacks. While we were waiting for people to pass us, the girls had a good time checking out the cubbyholes, although they called them fairy caves.
There was a short stretch of trail at the top that was paved, flat and wide, and the girls enjoyed walking side by side holding hands on that stretch.
Ben carried Nathaniel up in the Baby Bjorn, and he was a good little traveler. He got fussy at the top because he didn't get much of a nap in the afternoon, so I carried him halfway down in my arms (which was tricky when the steep stairs started again!) and then Ben took him back for the last part.
We spent some time on the beach after we finished our hike. The girls wanted to wade in the water, which they said was very cold. There were some tiny little fish in the water, but they didn't have any luck catching them.
Then the girls played on the playground equipment, while Nathaniel had a bit of snuggle time.
As we were walking back to the car, Amelia said "This was the most fun thing I ever did in my whole life." Wow! I'm glad that everyone in our family had such a wonderful time exploring the outdoors together on this beautiful fall day!