Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hike Hidden Valley Natural Area

   It's another snowy weekend in the OP, and despite Taylor's little escapade yesterday, I decided to treat them to a hike. (It turned out to be a long, cold hike with a lot of hills, though, so I hope Taylor learned his lesson!)
   Turns out the valley was even more hidden than I expected... the directions I got from Google were TERRIBLE and had me going the wrong way on Parvin Rd. I drove in circles for a bit, left a message for the hike leader, then asked at a gas station—and none of the three people working had any idea where I was talking about. @$%*!! Finally I found the park and the group, who patiently waited 25 minutes for me. I cringe when I think about it, but they were very friendly and didn't make me feel bad.
Here's the gang at the hike's start:
   The snow was deep—more than ankle deep and occasionally up to my knees! The area was heavily wooded and we often had to trudge along single-file:
Nancy and friends on the overlook:
This was pretty much my view for the 4-hour hike:
   We were up by Worlds of Fun and caught occasional glimpses of the park. An odd sight from a wilderness area, but at least I'll know where to go if Zombieland ever plays out in KC.
   We saw five deer as we hiked around, but the trees were so thick that I never got a good shot of them.
Michal, however, got this:
Here we are again, atop the bluffs:
It's a long way down to the ground, highway and Missouri river:
   The dogs were so energetic and excited that they were dragging me along; Taylor literally dragged me almost all 4 hours of the hike, until the very last hill. (The following day, my arms were as sore as my legs!)
Almost back to our starting point:
   Most of the group was leaving after the first 2 hours, so I had to run up to the parking lot and move my car. Then I raced back to the group. The snow was up to the shibas' shoulders at times, but they loved it!
   We should have called this "The Mike Hike" because there were three of them! Made remembering names easy. Michal was a crack-up. He found icy, narrow logs over creeks and walked across them. He looked, sounded and acted like a perfect cross between my friend Brad Bryant from OSU and Octavio Perez, former Hallmarker and incredible painter.
   Inexplicably, an old rusted-out car in the middle of the woods. So of course he climbed into it.
Getting fatigued. "We're going to what up which hill now??"
   Almost the Iditarod: the dogs pulled me down one steep hill, and up the next, even steeper hill.
Ta-daah! We made it!
Thanks everyone for a fun hike (and for the homemade hot choco!)
   It was nice to have other photographers on the trip—many of these are Michal's from the Meetup site. Thanks, buddy!