• Jenni

What is My Biggest Lesson in My Park Hopping Adventures?

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

A few weeks ago, we were hiking in upstate South Carolina. I had a lofty goal of getting my state park book stamped three times in a single trip (let's remember how I like to do all the things all at once). We started at Paris Mountain State Park and hiked the Lake Placid Trail to the Sulphur Springs Trail. It wasn't a particularly difficult hike, though we did get lost somewhere along the way.

We got our stamp and that's definitely the most important part of any park excursion! If you haven't gotten a state park book, you can usually get them for free or for a low cost at any of the state parks! If you complete all the state parks, you are deemed an Ultimate Outsider, and you get a T-Shirt that proves it!

The bridge to cross this waterfall was out, but luckily someone has created a precarious bridge of two-by-fours.

Afterward, I requested we drive up to Ceasar's Head State Park to get another stamp out of the day. The park website said they close at 6 PM. We arrived at 5:47 PM and watched as the ranger locked up the door and started to walk to her car.

My logical brain screamed at me. I came all this way, I should just jump out and ask her to stamp our book. My introvert brain, however, controlled the motor functions and we didn't get a stamp. We just had to hike and enjoy the beautiful views. The worst, I know.

The next day, as we were driving home, we stopped at Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site (again, I like to cram a million things in). It was closed when we arrived. But we looked around for a bit and discovered that the stamp was just placed outside in a box at the trail map. It was in that moment that we realized,

we probably could have gotten a stamp at Caesar's Head. If I had asked the park ranger, she likely would have told me that the stamp was in the box near the trail map. We have found several stamps outside like this now. I definitely kicked myself for that one.

But, I did learn a valuable lesson--ALWAYS ASK--which I put to use more recently!

For my birthday, last week, Jack took me to Virginia, more on that trip later. Great Falls Park in Virginia has a stamp for the national passport book, so we decided to get stamped. Virginia, we learned, is still largely closed due to Covid. So the park gift shop and offices were closed. Unlike the state parks, the national parks don't leave their stamps lying around all willy nilly.

We were BUMMED. We paid $20 to get in and almost just left without even seeing the falls because we were so bummed (I know-so silly). We kicked the dirt for a bit and finally decided, we paid to get in, we HAVE to at least look at the waterfall. So we walked down the first outlook trail and I'm SO GLAD we did because WOW. Definitely worth it.

As we were walking back up the trail, we come across a park ranger. Remember the lesson? Always ask! So we did. She lit up. "Oh yes! I can get you a stamp!" She was a delight! Gave us the wrong stamp, stamped one upside down, and so we each got two stamps. We all laughed it off and she told us how much she appreciates us millennials because we don't seem to have a care in the world. We talked about the general public and how much she gets yelled at (c'mon people-don't yell at park rangers, they're like the NICEST people on Earth, like I wholeheartedly think that's in the job description). She then told us the best trail to walk, and with our spirits lifted and our passports stamped, we decided to take her advice and hike it out.

So what did we learn today, kids? Always ask.

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