This year we decided to hike the Tall Grove Trail, which is only accessible by permit on a controlled access road. It's not that big of a deal, just tell the ranger you want to go and if you're one of the first 50 that day your wish is granted! Poof! It was about 4.0 miles round trip and Ellie was a real sport. At the beginning there was a large elevation drop, which was easy until we had to come back up.
As part of her Junior Ranger activities, we were looking to find living things along the trail. Despite being thrilled to see this snail on the ground, she was quite a bit nervous when Jim tried to get her to hold it.
This ginormous tree was just laying across the trail. The cutout is a good 7 feet tall at least which means that is one ridiculously large tree!
After finding the first banana slug of the trip in our campsite, we found a few more along this hike. These two were on a slanted surface and at first glance looked as though they made a heart. Ellie was amazed at the number of slugs but was a little disappointed that Jim and I found more of them than she did.
I think the highlight of National Park adventures for Ellie is the Junior Ranger program. The Redwoods are unique in that it is both a National and State park. The activities we were working on during our hike were for the NPS program, but she also participated in this ranger-led activity that let her be a California State Park Junior Ranger. The kids went on a hike with the ranger and looked for various things in the forest.
Then she and Jim worked to make sure she'd finished all her NPS Junior Ranger activities.
After doing a silly little dance (The Banana Slug Slide) with the ranger, Ellie was sworn in. She is very sweet when talking with the rangers about what it means to help the Earth as a Junior Ranger.
We added in a walk around Stout Grove (perhaps one of my favorites) and a jaunt to see Big Tree (because you just have to) which let the little monkey pose like a rock star about a hundred times. Seriously, every time I looked at her she made silly faces and struck a pose like she was about 15 years older.
We tried to get a bunch of silly family pics just to run out of battery on a perfectly posed/framed/lighted shot. Which means I get to show you this one instead. Note to self: make sure when replacing a battery, use one that was actually charged instead of the dead one from the last trip.
We drove out to the coast which is still technically part of the park, and looked for sea stars. After our trip to the lighthouse when Ellie was late in decided she wanted to touch one we really wanted to try and find another opportunity for her to do so. After a bit of searching and a quick talk with the OMSI summer camp leader we crossed paths with, we finally found a few. With only a brief bit of hesitation and some encouragement from her dad, Ellie finally touched one.
After which we drove to the Oregon Caves, went on a pretty spiffy cave tour, and ventured home. It's been a fun and full couple days.