5 Things We Learned Climbing Enchanted Rock with a Toddler

Monday was Brian's 33rd birthday, and in honor of the changes brewing in our life (more on that soon), we decided to climb Enchanted Rock as a family. It felt a bit ambitious with a 2-year-old, but we've both been craving a little adventure. And at just under two hours from our house, it is close enough to feel semi-convenient and far enough to feel like travel.

We've learned enough as parents to know that car trips over one hour require planning for maximum comfort of all involved. (Goodbye spontaneity, hello practicality.) Ever since Chloe was born, I've adhered firmly to a strategy I've coined "cry prevention." Which basically means I jam as many cry preventing measures as will fit in my overstuffed handbag. Movies, crayons, snacks, stickers, bubbles, books, toys...I'm a one-woman party.

So with a two-hour journey ahead of us, I toted my usual accouterment. And by God, it actually went great. Chloe ate us out of dehydrated carrot chips before we were an hour down the road, but Ice Age 3 managed to fill the void. By the time we made the final turn down Highway 965, there was a full-on family game of I Spy in progress, and the giant dome was rising higher and higher on the horizon.

When we finally arrived, Chloe could hardly contain her excitement. "I want to climb the big rock RIGHT NOW," she sobbed.

Once we set her loose, she was adamant about traversing the trail with as little assistance as possible.

Which lasted about 15 minutes.

Bolting and sprinting are her two favorite pastimes these days, and we were cramping her style by making her stay on the path and you know, not tumble head first down the mountain. So hiking with Daddy quickly turned into riding the Momma train.

Lesson #1: Pack the baby carrier. (Nailed it.) And only pack said baby carrier if you're serious about wearing your baby. Crazy. Freaking. Workout.

Although it may look like I'm trying to strike a pose, that's actually just me trying not to face plant on the rock face. And I'd also like to point out that the "Summit Trail" isn't so much a trail as an open-ended suggestion that the summit is that way and you can basically find your way to the top.

While I was precariously perched against this very descriptive sign, Brian accidentally dropped the lens cap to my camera, which rolled an obscenely long way downhill. So after he snapped the photo, he backtracked to get it while Chloe and I waited (read: while I panted and Chloe moaned her disapproval). He had his Life Factory glass water bottle in the side pocket of his backpack, and when he leaned over to pick up the suicidal lens cap the bottle decided to join the party and slipped right out. And broke.

Problem one was broken glass in a heavily trafficked area of this state park (duh, how did we overlook the glass thing?). Luckily the rubber case kept the glass on the inside of the bottle, and we were able to stash it behind a rock to pick up on the way down and dispose of at the bottom. Problem two was our lack of water. Aside from Chloe's small Frozen water bottle, we were high and dry. Literally.

Lesson #2: Pack the stainless steel water bottle next time.

Suffice to say, we were getting a wee bit parched. And I was giving it all I had to heave myself and my 32 lb. child up this big rock Brian kept reassuring me that we didn't have to make it all the way to the top, and the Burns in me kept reassuring him that oh-hell-yes we did.

Guess who ended up heading to the top and who ended up pooping out for a little while?

Lesson #3: Pace yourself.

Brian headed off alone and Chloe and I took a well-deserved break. I was SO THIRSTY and had resolved to drink the juice out of the fruit salad when I stumbled across pure gold in the cooler. Thank. God. For. Sparkling. Water. Brian had packed 3 cans of "fizzy water" to go with lunch, and I'm pretty sure I squealed when we found them.

Lesson #4: Canned water. Yes.

Me and the ChloFlo hanging out about 80% of the way up Enchanted Rock.

Brian 100% of the way up Enchanted Rock.

Chloe and I picnicked while Brian explored, and I did my best to shield her from the sun. I assumed we'd head down when Brian returned, but Chloe caught one glimpse of her Daddy and was ready for more.

Lesson 5: It's way worth it to make it to the top.

When all was said and done, it was such an exhilarating feeling. My heart was beating out of my chest, my legs were wobbly, and my hair was matted to my back with sweat. But we were in the unknown. Together. As a family.

And something told me we'd remember this birthday. ~