Kirby Nature Trail
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Kirby Nature Trail
November 14, 2010
It is my baby girls birthday today. I got up and cooked her what she requested for breakfast which was Jimmy Dean Sausage Cheese Balls. After we finished breakfast we decided to head to Village Creek State Park for a hike. The ranger at Martin Dies Jr State Park said the Village Creek Park was a really good one. We had bought three camo backpacks for the kids to use as Science packs, I figure it would work out better for longer walks. They transferred all their Science stuff over and was ready to go. We drove towards Beaumont and come across a road sign that says “Big Thicket Visitors Information Station” I request, “Honey, stop there so we can maybe get some more info on hiking trails around here,” so we pull in. Stewart and I get out and go in. The lady was very nice and helpful. Apparently there is some kind of informational video class going on because she had to change out the videos for some people, that is interesting for a future visit. She tells us that there is a small 2-mile hiking trail right up the road that was free and gave us a map to it. So we go and take a look. It had a nice parking lot and a neat little Log cabin at the trailhead along with water fountain and port-a-potties. “Y’all wanna do this one?”, I ask my group. “Sure!” was the eager reply. We gear up and head out. There was a beautiful old Live Oak tree in the yard of the trailhead cabin so of course we had to get a picture. We figure this tree has to be a couple hundred years old to be this big and beautifully branched.
First thing Anna does when we get on the boardwalk is walk on the edge and slip off taking Adam down with her. They both get back up and dust off. No one was hurt but Anna got a grass stain on the knee of her new jeans and we still have to go to Beaumont to shop. I scold her a little bit because she was not careful. A few feet later we find a sign that says “Caution: Wet Boardwalks are Slippery “Yeah, ya think?” was my response, now they tell us. So Anna poses by the sign with her grass stain.
The boardwalks are very pretty with the fall leaves littering the way. Stewart and I had bought “hiking sticks” which were designed to be used for a complete workout by using them like ski poles but we wanted to use the for hiking sticks. Stewart’s pole was not extended enough and I picked on him about walking with it like it was his “pimp daddy” cane. So I take a quick picture of him and then adjust it to be more of a hiking stick. I honestly think I prefer Austin’s cane hiking stick but I will use the one we bought. Austin was trying to get a leaf of some sort off a tree by the boardwalk. It was just out of his reach, he tried and tried almost falling off a couple times. I was primed and ready to get a picture of the “fall” but he never fell. The Stewart picks the same kind of leaf off of a tree that was closer and asked “Umm, is this what you are wanting?” We all laugh, poor Austin after all his hard work.
My little Birthday girl rock star grabs Austin’s hiking stick and jumps on a stump and starts singing, “La la la, oh yeah!” We look at trees and moss growing on them and different kinds of bark. Stewart makes me take a quick picture with the kids before trekking on.
Along the trail we saw several mushrooms (numbers correspond with pictures):
(1) I had a hard time identifying this one because I needed to “lift up its skirt” to see more and didn’t because I didn’t want to disturb it
(2) a pile of slimy mushrooms that I can’t identify but we called it the “scat” mushrooms jokingly
(3) Bearded Tooth
(4) Grass Spider‘s Web (it is a nice side view)
(5) these little shelf mushrooms appear to have algae growing on them
(6)Turkey Tail (Adam totally “called” this one, “Mom, look it looks like a turkey’s tail.”)
Below are some more things we studied, this is where field guides come in handy:
(1) holes bored in a tree by a Sapsucker
(2) Yellow House Plant Mushroom (maybe)
(3) Austin Spotted a wonderful array of Soil Layers in the root system of a fallen tree
(4) A beautifully colored Holly Tree
(5) a pretty white mushroom the kids said it looked like a flower. I looked up Fungi Cycle thought that was cool
(6) a cocoon Anna found, no telling what came out of it
Adam was trying to use a Holly leaf to cut the pretty yellow leaves we see on a bush.
We walked and read all the cool little signs they had telling what kind of tree was represented.
Anna found a funny tree branch nub that looked like a saddle, so of course she had to “ride” her horse. Adam was worried that it would start raining so he decided to cover his head with his backpack.
We came across this creek bed that was dried up, but within its banks was the most beautiful huge Cypress Trees. We walked down into the creek and got to see them up close. It was an awesome opportunity. The “knees” of the big tree was taller than Stewart’s head. We had read from an earlier hike that the “knee” could have been used to obtain food or air for the tree above the water line. We noticed that at the base of the tree the knees grew into it making the big bottoms. So maybe they help with stability while in the water. I wish there was a way to tell how old these trees were. GOD is awesome. Just to see the mighty works of his hand is enough to make your soul smile. This was the highlight of our hike. The kids played around the knees and climbed the big trunk. We found a gray tree frog here, perched on a Cypress’ knee. Anna patted the little frog, saying “Aww your a cute little frog aren’t you?” Yay, my girl is not a girly girl and is not scared of frogs. She is right in the big middle of it all, just like I was as a kid.
(1) a lovely Gray Tree Frog on a Cypress Knee
(2) I looked everywhere trying to find this little Caterpillar and could not get a positive ID but I thought it was beautiful
(3)these holes in this tree Stewart says is probably from Flying Squirrels
(4) a young Bald Cypress Tree
After we left the Cypress grove we walked until we reached a big bridge. The signs said Inner Loop, Outer Loop, and Sandhill Loop. Since I forgot to bring the map I took from the Info. Station we did not know how the layout was.The area by the bridge had a little picnic area where you could enjoy a rest and lunch. We decided to take the Sandhill Loop because it crossed the bridge where I took the pictures that are posted below. They reminded me of a postcard.
The bridge was scary because when you got to the top of it, it would sway and I have a fear of bridges anyway so I fussed at Stewart for swaying the bridge too much. We continue on for what seemed like forever. The whole time we are sure we are going to get to the car just around the next curve. The kids are getting tired and so were Stewart and I. Finally we come to another big bridge this one was more rickety than the last but we see a map sign on the other side so we cross it, timidly. Once we get there we see that we have been on the wrong loop ever since the last bridge. We have no idea where to go from here except deadheading back the way we came. We had broke one of the worst rules of hiking, going out without a map or GPS. The kids and I are almost in tears out of sheer exhaustion. We suck it up and turn around and trudge back the way we came. I am hurting in my feet and hips pretty bad and end up stumbling and falling and getting both my knees dirty but I did not hurt myself. The kids got real quiet. I ask what is wrong. Austin tells me Anna is afraid I will not want to go on into Beaumont and shop now that my knees are dirty. I tell her, “You know what baby girl, mom fell and got dirty too because I fussed at you for doing it and I shouldn’t have. I will still take you out to eat and to Toys-R-Us for your birthday, dirty knees or not. We are country folks that have been out hiking and I don’t know these people in Beaumont so I really don’t care what they think of me!” That seemed to reassure her and we trudged on. She was cold so I gave her my long sleeve over shirt. She slipped it on, over her pack and all. So I called her my little hunchback. She was not real impressed with that. Adam whined a little bit and Anna started dragging up the rear. I tell Adam if I am not whining he is not allowed to either and I take Anna’s hand and we walk on. I prayed, “God, please give us the strength to get back to the car and please do not let it rain on us.” Amazingly the trip back to the car took no time at all and the good Lord kept us dry. My best guess is that we walked close to 4 miles because of my mistake of not bringing the map. A mistake that will not happen again. I am actually proud that we walked it with very little problem.
We go on into Beaumont and take Anna out to eat at Brazos Cattle Co. Then we swing by a couple clothes stores for me and then out to Toys-R-Us so the kids could spend their money they received from Pops & Mawmaw Husband for their birthday. The only kid that found a toy was Adam, he bought a Bionicle.
We decided on our way out of Beaumont that we would go to the Village Creek State Park since it was where we were suppose to hike today. I figured we could, at least, drive it so we can see what they have for next time. We get our Pass approved and go on in to have a look. They have a playground that we let the kids play at for a few minutes while Stewart and I look at the map.
This park has several loops to walk, even a mini trail for little kids. We walk the mini trail and it has footprints in cement and info signs of different kinds of animals scattered along the trail. It was exciting and interactive for the kids. Adam really liked it because he got to see a beaver footprint and a bobcat track. Austin would run ahead and cover the sign and we would guess what the footprint was. Anna had to blow the dirt out of some of the track so we could see them better.
We go and look at the creek, it has amazing white sand on the bank on the other side. Adam said, “Mom, is that snow?” I laugh and say, “I wish, but no, just really white sand.” He says, “I wish too, cuz then I could build a snowman.” I ask the family if they are up to taking on a trail, but only a small one because it would be dark soon. They surprisingly are up for it. My family are such troopers. We actually ended up taking four trails but just pieces of each that made a small loop of only a half mile. The park seems well equipped with picnic tables and a rocked walking trail for part of it, also walk-in camping sites.
We see some hog tracks, I am getting to where I can tell them from deer tracks pretty well. It starts to sprinkle and Anna says, “Ahhh hurry up we are going to get struck by lighting!” I tell her it is not lighting silly. She still plays the drama out a bit. Adam asks me how do I know there is no lightning in this rain. I tell him I know what the different clouds look like and these clouds did not look like storm clouds. I tell Anna, “Dodge those rain drops girl!” So she runs in a zig zag pattern pretending to dodge them. Adam had his backpack held over his head. I stop and take a picture of a pretty tree that is very colorful and Stewart takes the camera from me again. I look at some white flowers on a bush and he gets a picture of me. “You look like you are studying that pretty hard!” He laughs. I swipe my camera back. The kids are urging us to hurry, the rain is no fun to them at all. They are still chattering about lightning. I snap a picture of a very unimpressed Austin trudging on in the sprinkling rain. In no time, we are back to the car. Anna hollers, “Hurry daddy unlock the car. Lightning!” Silly, silly children, I almost think they wish it was lightning so they could have a thrill of being scared.
We all agree even though we walked a long ways today, it was a good day.
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