Being Active – Hiking the Canyon

June 28, 2010

Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

This weekend we went hiking in a local canyon. The kiddos have always hiked in the mountain before, but not a canyon. They enjoyed learning about a different habitat. Actually, in this hike – at least what we could find out about from the information center – there are actually 4 or 5 different ecosystems in this park alone, masha’Allah.

When you first go down into the canyon from the mountain, this is the view you see. It is quite beautiful – it is so lush and green, masha’Allah.

When we first went down into the canyon, I had to stand near a huge rock wall as people were coming up the path. For some reason, I could hear baby birds cheeping hungrily – but didn’t know where the sound was coming from. When I looked to my right, I found this – a nest actually built into the rock. I couldn’t see the baby birds inside, but I could definitely hear them, masha’Allah!

As you get to the bottom of the canyon, you have to cross a bridge that goes over the creek. The creek runs along the bottom of the canyon and the trail goes along it until it meets up with another trail that goes up into the mountains.

We didn’t see any fish along the water but we did find a creature at the location above making his way along in the water. We weren’t sure what it was – I thought it looked like a lobster and dh said that was impossible and guessed it was a crab. Either way, I looked it up when we got home and found that it was a crayfish (related to lobsters). It got scared and scooted quickly backwards where it came from.

The trail we followed continues on the canyon bottom until we get to a fork in the path. We first decided to go down a path that takes you to an old dam that was built in the 1800s.

We went as far as the dam location and saw the ruins of the dam (it was destroyed in a storm years after it was built). We could have continued on the path, but a few people came by saying they saw a rattlesnake on the path down a ways. Dh wanted to continue (not surprisingly), but yes – I chickened out (and I don’t feel guilty about it, either).

We then went back and took the second trail – which winds through the mountain a bit. The views were pretty and – unlike the canyon trail – this trail was shaded by trees so it was nice when a breeze would blow in. We sat and ate sandwiches under a group of trees and listened to the birds talking amongst themselves above us. It was nice, masha’Allah.

Here’s a picture of the beautiful view – rolling hills and farmland with blue skies everywhere, masha’Allah. As I said, there are several different ecosystems located in the park – and it is evident by the different scenery we found on the trail. Each area was different – but equally beautiful, masha’Allah.

One of the nice things about going to different hiking locations is the variation of animals you encounter (or choose not to 🙂 ) and the variation in plants and flowers. In this particular park, we saw so many different types of butterflies, masha’Allah – the kiddos were amazed. We saw orange butterflies dotted with black spots and black butterflies with white markings – it was beautiful, masha’Allah. The flitted by quickly though – so it was really hard to take a good look at them.

We hike often in the mountains – but the nice thing about hiking the canyon this time was to find beautiful cactuses with flowers dotting the hiking trail. Here are a few that we found:

We also found many different types of wildflowers as well (my favorite thing to photograph, masha’Allah.)

It wasn’t a strenuous hike at all (we do usually like our hike a little more difficult) but it was a beautiful day, masha’Allah. I know it drives dh crazy that I now take my camera along on our adventures, but I can’t help myself. DH is one of those people who hikes for the exercise and enjoys the nature surrounding him, but isn’t that curious about it (at least, not to my knowledge). I’m still trying to get him to learn to stop and smell the roses (what a benefit to homeschooling – it truly has taught me to enjoy slowing down – alhumdulilah).

The kids and I love the exercise, the nature surrounding us and we also want to learn more about its mysteries and beauty. After all, it’s the creation of Allah. We stop and smell the roses (or in this case, wildflowers) and dh tries to wait patiently while we poke and prod (respectfully of course) and stop to take pictures 🙂 – may Allah reward him for his patience. My kiddos now say that we are adventurers discovering nature, masha’Allah – and they aren’t afraid to stop and explore a little more than we used to.

Now that we have returned from our hike, we now have our work cut out for us. At the library we found a book on sale about identifying wildflowers – we are hoping to use this to determine the names of each flower we have pictures of. We also have a book for identifying trees as well. Insha’Allah it will keep us busy for a while – and perhaps we will learn something from it.

I am so glad that we have not overlooked this great opportunity to further our horizons in homeschooling. While it does not seem obvious that homeschooling and hiking are related – they really are. In fact, I dare say that anything could be related to homeschooling – as long as you make it an opportunity for learning. The added benefit to hiking is that you allow your children to see Allah’s creation – up close. If you don’t believe me – try it out.

We have the added benefit that we see this beauty and then we have the opportunity to learn more about it – the beauty with which it is created – the many miracles in their creation – and the wondrous and amazing system that Allah has created to sustain and provide for this creation – it’s all there – just strap on your backpack! Then, after you enjoy having images of this beauty swimming in your heads – read a book about the different things you see – ants, butterflies, elk, wildflowers, etc. – and learn more about them. You will be amazed to learn how intricate and interwoven much of Allah’s creation really is. If that’s not a way to boost your iman (and your childrens’)- I really don’t know what is.

As Allah states in the Qur’an:

“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the [great] ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits people, and what Allah has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every [kind of] moving creature, and [His] directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven and the earth are signs for a people who use reason.” (Surat Al-Baqarah: 164)

Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
Sumayyah Umm SAA

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