Anniversary Adventures {Devil’s Den State Park}

This year our anniversary kind of snuck up on me. I wasn’t even upset when Jeremy was scrambling around trying to make last-minute anniversary plans. I was in the same boat. What should we do? Where should we go? Who is going to be available to watch Coen at the last minute? Finally, I told him that all I really wanted was to go eat breakfast and then hike together as a family.

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

I picked out a trail that I’ve been wanting to explore myself before taking my Girls Who Hike group out on, but Jeremy balked at the distance from our house. I was disappointed and annoyed, and I let it be known, but I agreed to go hike somewhere closer. Compromise. It’s kind of important in marriage. Also, apparently, important in anniversary planning.

By the time we go in the car to head out for breakfast, I was already in a better mood. Feeling better about the hike since it was a new trail at least. We were going to hike at Devil’s Den, a local state park that I’ve hiked at before, but a trail I hadn’t been on yet.

Breakfast at The Farmer’s Table

Farmer's Table breakfast for our 11th anniversary Farmer's Table breakfast for our 11th anniversary

I perked up even more once I realized that The Farmer’s Table was now serving vegan pancakes! Coen loves pancakes, but we usually don’t order them at restaurants since he can’t have dairy. I ordered the pancakes to split and added an egg and bacon on the side. Jeremy got the Arkansawyer which came with regular pancakes and just about everything else.

Farmer's Table breakfast for our 11th anniversary

Once we had our fill of breakfast, we set off for the trail.

The road Jeremy decided to take got us to the trailhead more quickly, but it also involved several hairpin curves. I’d never driven to Devil’s Den that way and started to get a little queasy. Luckily, the curves ended and we arrived at the visitor’s center without incident (ie: I wasn’t revisited by my breakfast).

Devil’s Den Trail

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

We decided to hike the Devil’s Den trail, a 1.5 mile loop that features caves, rock formations and some falls. The caves are currently closed due to white nose syndrome, but there is still plenty to explore.

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

As we begun our hike, we discussed the trail markings and leave no trace with Coen as a refresher. At the beginning of a hike, I always bring up the fact that we cannot take any trail treasures home with us. For Coen, the most tempting things to bring home are rocks and sticks. I let him know that we can take a picture of any rock he likes instead of trying to take them home with us.

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

Most of the time this goes over well, and Coen moves along happily after taking a photo. However, he did come across one really cool stick that he wanted to bring home with him. It looked like a pickaxe and even I had to admit it was not like the sticks in our yard. (Another thing we tell him is that there are plenty of sticks in our yard at home).

After we took a photo of a not-so-thrilled Coen with the stick, we moved on.

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

Even though the caves were closed, I was glad that I brought our headlamps on this hike. There were still plenty of deep, dark places to explore further. At one point, Jeremy wanted to go down into one such area while Coen wanted to go up and over. So we handed off the headlamp and began to climb.

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

Once we were on top of the rocks Jeremy was under, we were rewarded with a great view of some frozen falls. We were even more thrilled to find a downed tree to use as a bridge to reach the falls.

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

We were enjoying ourselves so much that we kind of forgot that Jeremy might be wondering where we were. As I was repeating to Coen to please leave the icicles for others to enjoy, I heard a familiar whistle. I hollered back towards where we had left Jeremy to let him know we were okay. He ran up to us, breathless and obviously concerned. It was a reminder that we always have someone looking out for our wellbeing and safety.

We started to get pelted by the birds and that was our cue to head back towards the trail.

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

While we were stopped to take a break and eat a snack, a mom coming down the trail noticed me trying to get a family selfie and offered to take a picture for us. We seem to meet the kindest, most affable people when we’re in the outdoors. Another family took our photo on the bridge by Twin Falls after I offered to do the same for them.

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

I have to admit that the hike we ended up taking was a pretty great one. I’m glad that we spent our anniversary in nature with the whole family. I’m looking forward to spending even more weekends out on the trails in Northwest Arkansas in the coming months!

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

Thanks for reading! You may also want to read about the 10K Women Trail Project or my newfound Trail Tribe.

My Trail Tribe {Indian Rockhouse Trail Hike}

Wander without wifi is weak | julianne {gray}

Walking in the woods is a way that I clear my mind, get inspiration, and both connect–with God, nature, the world at large–and disconnect–from social media, the news, daily stress. It’s a complete reset for me and something I had come to think of as a solitary activity. I should mention, this wasn’t always the case. I grew up camping and hiking with my parents, my siblings–big sister and two younger brothers, my grandparents, and very often, all of my cousins on my dad’s side. It was a family affair.

Trail signage along the Indian Rockhouse trail

Buffalo Point was where we spent much of our time camping and hiking. The Indian Rockhouse Trail was one of our favorites, but I admit I hadn’t been back there since childhood.

My Newfound Hiking Sisterhood

My newfound trail tribe at the Indian Rockhouse Trail
Photo by Kaci Stringer aka @wanderrwomann

Now that I’m a Trailblazer for the 10,000 Women Trail Project and the newly minted 2018 Girls Who Hike ambassador for Arkansas, I’m beginning to hike with a new kind of family. The experiences I’ve had so far have taught me that I need this tribe of women who love being together in the outdoors. It doesn’t matter that some of us are faster than others, or that some of us have been hiking all of our lives and others have just picked it up. We get each other. That’s really all that matters. I have enjoyed spending time with every one of the ladies I’ve met on this journey so far, and I cannot wait to meet even more of you!

Not much water flowing along the Indian Rockhouse trail, but we found some icicles

Saturday I hosted the very first official Girls Who Hike Arkansas meet up. I rolled up to the trailhead at 9:30 a.m. hoping that at least a handful of the women who had selected “Going” on our Facebook event would turn up. I was so shocked when 10 other women came out for our Indian Rockhouse Hike in 20 degree weather! Talk about troopers!

Scrambled down and then back up in the Indian Rockhouse to reach the cave

Not only did they not mind the cold, they made every bit of the day fun!

Introducing a new series!

Icicles along the Indian Rockhouse Trail

Being outdoors gives me a lot of inspiration, but there are also a lot of people who have inspired me to get outdoors, to go further, to push harder, and to even try my hand at inspiring others to get outside as well. The more I talk to these women that come out and hike with me, the more I am in awe of them and their stories.

Inside the Indian Rockhouse

I want to share those stories, with their explicit permission, of course. I’ve decided to begin a series highlighting these amazing women, all that they have overcome to get to where they are and WHY they were/are drawn to the outdoors. I haven’t decided how this series will be presented yet, and I would absolutely love your feedback on this. Would you rather it be a blog series, a podcast, or a video series? I’m open to any and all suggestions. I just want to get this rolling because I know you will be inspired by these women as much as I am!

You may also be interested in reading my post about the 10,000 Women Trail Project — Click here.