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Our family was hiking.
The Fenlands Walk in beautiful Banff, Alberta.
A gorgeous two kilometres of shady trails, small bridges, and old forest next to the Bow River.
An easy walk for a group whose members ranged from six weeks to 69 years.
We discovered woodpeckers, squirrels, chipmunks, several ravens, and at least one bull elk.
Dozens of nests.
And, at last count, nine burrows.
Two members had fallen over tree roots and skinned their knees.
One had walked into a branch and gotten moss and/or bugs in her hair.
Three had been chased back onto the trail by Gramma.
One had run into a tree while looking . . . elsewhere.
Two slipped and soaked at least one shoe.
And one had to be nursed.
It was a fun, family type of outing.
Our favourite sort.
Beside the trail were the remains of a large, rotted tree.
A tree that had lived its life.
Perhaps a hundred years or so.
Been struck by lightening.
And then finished off by millions of carpenter ants.
A graceful, natural end to a monarch of the woods.
Our second son was explaining all of this to a rapt audience of five and six-year-olds.
He grabbed the top of the ancient trunk.
“And you see? This is what happened after the tree was killed,” he said, pulling it aside slightly to illustrate.
The entire trunk separated down the middle with a soggy crack.
Our son stared at the remains.
A bit stunned by what had just happened.
The kids were delighted.
They hadn't expected such a grand show on our little walk.
“Wow!” one of the cousins said to his son. “Your Dad just ripped that tree in half with his bare hands!”
His son grinned. “Yup,” he said, matter-of-factly. “My Dad is amazing.”
You can discover a lot of things when you walk through the woods with your family.
Not all of them are about nature.