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Hiking in Kansas?

August 24th, 2011

Prince Charming and Me - Hiking in Colorado - 2007

I have a problem.  I keep trying to turn Kansas into Colorado.  This is never going to happen and I need to stop.

See, I love to hike.  LOVE. TO. HIKE.  Mountains, that is.  Big on views, low on bugs.  When you think of Kansas, do you think of mountains?  I didn’t think so.

I REALLY miss hiking, so I recently thought I would endeavor to find us *that* hiking trail – the one that would foster cherished family memories.  The one that we would hike every year together and take Boo’s picture by the same tree and watch her grow each year.  The one where we would take THE family photo for the Christmas cards.  You know – THAT hike.

When we moved here, I had to go through a whole new car registration process which included verifying my car’s VIN number.  While the VIN guy looked at my paperwork and inspected the car, we chatted about how I was from Colorado and I happened to mention that I miss hiking.  I remember his response so clearly:  ”Well, if it’s hiking you want, it’s not the Rocky Mountains, but I highly recommend hiking at Clinton Lake.   You’ll love it there.”    Could it be?  Hiking in Kansas?!  I suddenly had a glimmer of hope!

Most of last summer was spent unpacking boxes and having out-of-town guests.  We never made it to Clinton Lake.  I vowed this summer would be different.  Two weekends ago, we drove out to Clinton Lake with great anticipation!  This was it!  The day of the big hike!  I finally had a chance to pull out my beloved hiking shoes!

First stop:  The Visitor Center.  We chatted for awhile with the guide there and asked him for recommendations on a trail we could hike with our two-year-old.  He recommended one that was 4.5 miles long, but cautioned us to watch out for Rattlesnakes and Copperheads.  My mama fears went on the rise and we questioned him further.  He went on to say that Douglas County (where Clinton Lake is located) has the highest density of snakes in the entire United States.  Prince Charming joked, “Well, I know where we’re NOT moving someday!”  Truly.  The guide also cautioned us to wear our Deep Woods OFF because he personally was covered in several chigger bites, not to mention the number of ticks he’s had on him.

Let’s pause the story at this point.  Now, let’s say you’re the parent of a two-year-old and someone tells you to watch out for poisonous snakes, chiggers, and ticks that are in abundance on the trail you’re about to hike.  Would you still continue on the hike?  I’m guessing not.  To our credit, Prince Charming and I did at least talk about whether or not we should still go.  We reasoned we had driven over an hour to get here, we were pretty excited about this big hike – so, SURE!  Let’s go!  Maybe not our most brilliant move as parents.  I am so grateful that God had his guardian angels looking out for Boo, since her parents were apparently not on the job that day!!













We drove to the trailhead and initially the hike was fairly nice.  It was in a heavily wooded area – such that you couldn’t see the sky above you, just tree tops. Boo and I had hats to wear and we had all  doused ourselves in Deep Woods OFF.  I held Boo’s hand and was pretty happy to be out there enjoying our first Kansas hike.  We kept scanning the trail, keeping an eye out for snakes.  We hadn’t gone very far when we noticed the trail narrowing and vegetation getting taller and hairier.  The next thing we knew, we were hiking on a very poorly maintained trail, climbing over or under fallen trees, trying to stay off the plant-life, and dodging enormous spider webs housing 2 inch spiders (I kid not when I say the webs were 6 feet tall!)










Boo was a trooper through it all and loved every minute of her hiking experience!  She has the hiking gene for sure!   She didn’t even know there was anything to be worried about!  Prince Charming and I were a bit stressed at this point.  I had a strangle-hold on Boo’s hand and was trying to guide her in front of me on this extremely narrow trail, all while we were desperately scanning for snakes and trying hard to not bump into these massive webs.  We made it to the part of the trail where you can see the lake, but you actually had to climb through the trees and over huge rocks and boulders to even get a glimpse of the lake.  We climbed down the embankment to take our token “happy family”, “we made it to the lake” photos and then promptly headed back to the car about as fast as we could.













I do believe Prince Charming was on the verge of a psychotic breakdown by the time we got out of there.  See, he’s an arachnophobe.  He will kill a spider in the house if he has to, but really can’t stand even coming near spiders.  So, here we are in spider, snake, tick, and chigger infested woods with some of the biggest webs and spiders ya ever did see.  It was a bit much for the poor guy.  We kept walking into the webs even – you couldn’t avoid them entirely.  I took pictures of him looking at me all crazy-like and swatting at random things in the air.  I told Boo that Daddy was scared of the spiders, so we had to stop about six times for her to give him hugs – “to make him feel better.”  What a precious, sensitive girl.  Warmed Mama’s heart, even if the hugs didn’t help Daddy entirely!  :o)










We did make it back to the car and ended up only hiking 1.35 miles of the 4.5 mile trail.  We drove to Lawrence, KS and salvaged the day by having great pizza at Papa Keno’s Pizzeria (they advertised “a slice as big as your face” and that was true!) and two cups of strong coffee.  Prince Charming felt a lot better after his shower that night.  I think we ALL felt better after our showers!  We didn’t end up seeing even one snake and we didn’t have a single tick or chigger bite on us.  Thank you, Lord, for protecting our litte family despite our ignorance!  Stupid VIN guy.  I am SO not listening to the locals anymore.








I am glad to say, I am officially cured of my Kansas hiking efforts and am aiming for a Colorado hike the next time we are out there to visit family.   Prince Charming informed me that he will be selecting our next family outing.  I think he is aiming for something indoors.




  1. Cinderella’s Mother
    | #1

    Funny! I remember moving from heavily wooded Virginia to California and trying to turn our new state into all things Virginia. Palm trees it was despite my heart’s desires. Now, I am so west oriented – feel like trees just block my view. Guess a Kansas “local’s” view is alot different from the transplanted Coloradoan. And this grandmother certainly questioned my 2 year old princess out hiking in those conditions. God is good to have taken care of all of you! Love it that Boo’s heart is so sensitive and compassionate – loving on Daddy to help him feel better. That just had to help! And, when I saw the photos of you all sitting on rock piles — well, scream! Snakes live in rocks! I would not have done well on this hike. Will look forward to a Colorado hike with you all again sometime! Rolling Creek Trail – Lost Creek Wilderness – Bailey, anyone? Simply gorgeous!

  2. Charming, Prince
    | #2

    I hear the local mall has some GREAT trails. Maybe even a fountain or two… I’ll bring my camera :)

  3. Debra
    | #3

    I loved your story, even if you didn’t care for this type of adventure. I would have had trouble with the spiders and Luke would have probably wanted to pick them all up! The pictures are beautiful and your daughter is getting so big. Time goes by way too fast. Looking forward to more stories. God Bless You,

    Debra :)

  4. Carol
    | #4

    Oh, Terra! I love your adventurous spirit! Your story is terrifying & hysterical at the same time. Love that you shared this!

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