Monday, April 28, 2008

First Hike!

Yesterday we went on our first hike of the year! It was a nice day out, so after Ellie's nap we decided, upon the recommendation of Susan Beth, to drive out to the Madison Buffalo Jump for a hike! We had never been there before, though have been saying for the past few years that we needed to head out there. And there's no time like the present, right? So we loaded Ellie up into the pack and headed down the trail to the top of the cliff. The websites all said there was only a mile of trails, but I'm pretty sure the one we took was more than a mile! All told we spent about an hour and a half hiking. I carried Ellie in the pack on the way up, but she walked almost the whole way back by herself! It's the first time she's gotten to hike on her own, and she did a GREAT job staying on the trail and discovering things along the way! She was very excited to be hiking.

Here is the observation and information pavilion that tells all about the Madison Buffalo Jump. The Native Americans used to drive a herd of bison onto the cliffs and get them to stampede so they'd run right off the cliff onto the rocks below, where they either died or were injured enough to be killed. Then they were harvested to provide for the Native Americans. Pretty much every part of the bison was used, from skins, to meat, to bones.

This is the view of the pavilion from the trail. Doesn't it look a little like Stonehenge? I'm pretty sure that's not what they were thinking when they built it.

We got to see our first wildflowers of the year on this hike! There were a few yellow bells along the lower portion of the trail. It's so exciting to see signs of spring! We also saw a LOT of yucca along the trail. I don't remember ever seeing yucca before, but I got a kick out seeing little cacti all over the place!

We hiked up to the top of the cliff and saw that there was another cliff a bit further, so we decided to go to that one, too. It was pretty much solid rock, without much grass on top. Here's a picture of me and Ellie standing on that cliff.

There was a little puddle in the middle of the cliff, and with such an abundance of rocks, we let Ellie out of the pack to play for a bit. She was very happy to get out and had a blast throwing rocks into the puddle!

For once, we actually thought ahead, and brought the tripod so we could get a family picture. That's the buffalo jump cliff in the background. We took a few to ensure that we could get one good one, and these three were right in a row. It was a pretty windy evening, and I guess a gust of wind tried to take us out in that middle one!

As I said before, Ellie got to hike down by herself, staying on the trail and holding our hands when the trail got steep. She did a GREAT job and only had to be carried a little way! She discovered all of the ants along the way, and pointed out every bird she saw. She pointed out the flowers and rocks and trees, and generally enjoyed exploring the outdoors.

On the way home, we got to see the beautiful bluish gray layers in the distant hills. I remember when we moved to Montana and I'd see paintings like this on pottery. I didn't think it really looked like that, but it does, and it's beautiful.

We also got to see a couple exciting birds while we were driving. We saw an osprey (isn't it beautiful! We were SO close to it!) and 14 sandhill cranes. It was pretty exciting! Ellie was very excited to see the birds, and so were we!

So now that we've been to the Madison Buffalo Jump, I would recommend it. I would do the hike again (though I'm not sure I'd do it again with a 30 lb kid on my back!) and I think it's a good place for a picnic. It's a neat place and I'm glad we went.


The Musician said...

How fun! We've been trying to add hiking back into our weekend, but sometimes the weekend gets away!

Ivy Six-Pack said...

I'm so thankful for this warmer weather! I hope it is here to stay and we don't get another cold snap! Looks like you had a lot of fun!

Susan L said...

Your 1-mile estimate reminded me of being in Israel this last summer. Most of the trails in the archaeological parks had estimated times listed on the maps... but they must have been estimated times for someone with short legs and/or a talkative tour guide, because it typically only took 1/2 to 2/3 of the listed time, not rushing at all.