Return to Ha Ha Tonka

September’s heat can be a savage thing.  It steals the joy of summer, driving me to seek the cool darkness of inside.  Even with the lake in my back yard, I’d lost my desire to walk outside and leap into it.  It no longer offered relief but had itself become as miserable as a steamy bath.

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We first ventured to Ha Ha Tonka Park earlier this summer with two of our granddaughters to see the tragic castle ruins   but in truth, it was a short trip as it was already much too hot.

October ushered in cool fall temperatures so we left for the park to explore some of the hiking trails.  We hiked a couple miles in the area between the castle and the quarry.  Most of the walk, we were silent, just taking in the nature around us.  We enjoyed it so much that we ran straight out Sunday afternnon to buy proper hiking boots.

Today, we decided to try a much more aggressive trail.  We Started heading toward The Devils Kitchen, heading only about halfway to a natural seawall.

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Returning to our start point, we opted for the longest trail, Turkey Pen Hollow.  It’s a 7 mile rugged trail through thick forested and rocky mountain.  The sign stated that it’d take roughly 6.5 hours to complete.  We were wary about leaving the dogs at home so long but there was a cutoff offered that would shave 2 miles off of it, that we could take.

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Is it possible that those old stories our parents used to tell us were true?  You know the ones…how they walked 10 miles to school, in the snow, up hill both ways?  I’d swear this trail was all up hill!

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Clay was a good klick ahead of me as I often stopped to take pictures. He stopped ahead, waiting, then said, “You’ve got to tell me if you need to stop. You make me feel bad when I turn around and see you huffing like that!”  Well, actually, I was thinking, “OMG! He’s brought me to the wilderness to kill me!”  Lol

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During our hike, I often found myself lost, writing stories in my head of witch hollows and fairy trees as we climbed stony paths on the sides of mountain, wound through forest and dry creek beds.  We found an area of boulder and bluff and decided to stop.  We sipped cool drinks, ate granola bars and re-applied bug repellent.

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I was soaked and wishing I’d brought a towel to mop up my face.  The gnats were a menace and mosquitoes buzzed by but I reveled in the foliage and abundance of monarch butterflies.

From time to time, we’d reach a high point or clearing where a blessed cool breeze would shoot through the trees and we’d stop, bathing in it’s bliss and grand views.

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We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful adventure.  We finally found the cutoff which would lead us back out.  The trail finally leveled out to a slight decline and I was able to catch my breath a bit.  We had kept a steady pace throughout.  In Fact,  we put the estimated 7 mile, 6.5 hour hike to shame.  No wonder we were soaked and out of breath.  We did 5 miles of the 7 in 3 hrs 4 min! Whoohoo!

Next time, we’ll do the full seven and maybe picnic at the Backpack camp.  Feeling accomplished today, stronger and more alive.

Get outside, folks! Live life, find adventure!

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Always with love – Laura💕

16 comments

  1. Laura, thanks for sharing your challenging adventure. Your numerous photos and descriptions encouraged me to join the hike. Some of the trails remind me of a nature park near my home.

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    • Ha Ha Tonka Park has been a sanity saver for me. Really just living here in general during these many months. The freedom to stretch and roam without care nor restraint and reminded that life continues, moves forward, goes on. It’s like that brief moment where dark clouds part in the middle of a storm and your struck with the epiphany that just on the other side of those clouds, are blue and sunny skies.
      I’m so much more at peace out in nature. There’s a quieting of the spirit. We literally hiked it in complete silence with only the sounds of woods around us…the cricks, chirps, rustling of leaves and whispered breeze. A deer trekked alongside us for a long while, not completely disturbed with our presence but accepting, curious.
      I feel closer to God, an integral part of all creation instead of apart from it, belonging….a returning to something long forgotten and there, like Deborah among the trees, I talk to God. Join the hike!

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      • Holy cow, 3? I’m pretty sure I would have been struggling after 3 minutes. I do need to get my butt out there for more treks. I know Anastasia (my dog) would love it. And there are a number of them. You always make your adventures look so delightful!

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      • Awww…😊 I would so love to take our dogs with us but honestly….tgey would be having none of it! Lol. We take them to the city park, let them loose to run….5 min later they are standing st the truck door wanting to get in the AC. Such couch potatoes! Haha of course our boy is 180 lbs of spoiled rotten great dane.

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      • Yep that would do it. My Golden is the same way… My Husky? She seems to think all weather types are winter. She won’t even stop for water when her tongue is dragging on the ground. Just have to shake my head and drink my water! 😛

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  2. Oh my goodness! What a hike! Thanks for the inspiring adventure log. I think I’ll do a post of a hike in a local park. Yes, I remember those stories my parents told me about walking 10 miles to school…

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    • 😊💕 I smirked at those old srories but, Lord, there I was! Haha The cooler Fall weather is ideal for a great hike and taking in some nature. Can’t wait to get back out there. I’ll definitely be out there when the fall colors explode!

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