Spring is finally here! Like, really, really HERE! I’ve been starved of Vitamin D for far too many months this year, on top of having a new baby. Si was meant to be a spring baby but ended up being a dead-of-winter baby. On the bright side, it means he is a little older for the 2017 hiking season and will be ready for the big pack or back carry in the Lillebaby before its over. I’ve been struggling with Si’s 4-month sleep regression for the last week or two, and was feeling really worn down, so Justin decided to take a Friday off for us to do a hike. I chose Barclay Lake, which I’ve seen recommended over and over as a kid-friendly hike and is featured in our 60 Hikes book. The trail did not disappoint, and we had an almost idyllic hike; it was the sort of trip that makes it worth going out again and again.
We slept in and didn’t get out to the trailhead until about 10:30 am. There is a small parking area with a bathroom, and on this sunny day, there were only four other cars there with more on the way up. I’ve read that the cars line the road on the weekends. We brought our kid pack with but encouraged T to start the hike on his own feet and boy did he ever. Kid was racing down the trail fast enough that we split up a few times with Justin keeping tabs on him and me meandering a few dozen yards behind. The first part of the trail goes through dense second growth forests. Even on this bright day, T remarked that its “dark in der!”.
Less than half a mile in, the forest gets older, more primal. The trees are thick and old, growing out of deteriorating brethren. Roots form caves where ancient nurse logs have long rotted away. Devil’s Club, a primeval looking plant endemic to these forests, are starting to sprout leaves from their spiny branches. T was especially interested in the hollowed out logs near the trail, insisting that there was a “bear in der!”. Ridges and mountains to the left appear through the trees, still covered in snow. Narrow sections of the trail are bordered with lumber, and the whole stretch to the bridge is pretty whimsical. We even came across a couple of painted rocks. T chose to take home the tie-dyed painted one, and we left the sheep for others to find.
There is one large creek crossing with a sturdy foot bridge over it. The bridge is stable but the handrails are on one side and too high for kids to reach. This is really the only hazard other than the lake itself, and its a minor one. We kept T close and let him walk on his own. Up until this point, he had asked to be carried a few times, mostly when we reached any kind of incline. We managed to talk him into walking until 1/10 mile after the bridge. It was closing in on his normal nap time and he had been running a lot, so Justin let him ride on his shoulders the rest of the way to the lake.
At one point, Si and I got a way ahead of T and Justin. He had woken up from his trail nap and was peeking out the side of the carrier. I stopped and sat on a rock, pulling back the suncover so he could watch the trees. He was so quiet, I could feel him taking in the little sounds and sensory experiences. We don’t get a lot of time like that on the trail. He is usually asleep or fussing to eat. We zenned for a bit until Justin and T caught up, then made our way down to the lake.
Mount Baring, which can be seen on the drive to the trailhead, has an impressive prominence with two peaks jutting out from the hillside. Barclay Lake lies at the base of the steeper side, and most of the good picnic spots have a generous view of the mountain. We chose the first open area the trail went by and unpacked for lunch. After snacking and taking some photos, we played “sink or float”, which T learned at “hiking school” (A Hike It Baby meetup known as Forest School), which entails him guessing whether something will sink or float then throwing it into the water. Eventually, it was time to head back, and for the first time, T whined a little about wanting to stay. Usually at the turnaround point, he asks to go home, and we have to explain that we are, but its going to be a bit of a walk.
Justin loaded him up in the pack this time and T fell asleep shortly after crossing back over the bridge. The walk back was quick and uneventful, and with T sleeping we had some time to chat and relax. Justin was trying to talk me into letting T go without a diaper this hike but I was having such a nice time that I wasn’t keen to deal with wet pants in the middle of a hike, which I guess makes me lazy. But we did a test drive at the park today and he did great, so maybe we will just bring spare pants and try next time.
Part of our success for the day was due to the hike itself, and part just from sheer luck. T was in an energetic mood and the much yearned for warmth had finally returned. The trail is ideal for kids, without sheer drop offs or long climbs. Total mileage and elevation were spot on, measuring around 500 feet of gain and 4.4 miles roundtrip. Most of the hike is in the forest, so its shaded but will probably get buggy later in the season.
WTA guide: Barclay Lake