Every weekend for the past 12 weekends, we have taken a Lange Family Hike, during which family members have fallen in a shallow river (repeatedly), nearly walked into deer, and been so late in returning that we had to send out a family search party to find them (and by "them" I mean my wife).
Here, then, are six of our favorite area hiking trails (and some 2-minute hike videos).
The park: Beaver Creek Valley State Park (70 minutes from Rochester)
The hike: Plateau Trail
After soloing to the top of the Plateau Trail, I try texting my family to warn them to avoid this trail, which is muddy, narrow and very difficult. Dangerous, even. They don't have cell service below me.
I am, though, able to text my family back in Michigan to tell them where I am, just in case.
"Not sure I can make it back down," I text. "Air is thin. Water almost gone. Calves cramping badly. I'm afraid if I lie down I'll never wake up again. But I so want to lie down ..."
My older brother responds almost immediately: "Goodbye, Steve," he texts. "Just lie down and let go. It's fine."
My sisters ask if they can have my motorcycle and computer when I'm gone.
"Don't let anyone know," my dad texts, "that you are my son."
Eventually, their motivational pleas inspire me to somehow stand up and attempt one last push down the mountain.
After making it 100 feet back down the trail, I pass my two daughters coming toward me.
"Oh, you found this trail, too?" says Emma, 13. "It's fun!"
They are basically jogging up the route.
The park: Whitewater State Park (30 minutes from Rochester)
The hike: Hiking Club Trail
The five of us split up into four different groups. Although it's only Week 3 of Quarantine, almost everyone, for whatever reason, decides they want some alone time on the hikes.
Hadley follows the river along the flat, wildflower-lined Trout Run Creek. Henry takes off on some questionable trail, a straight-up crawl along the bluffs. Lindy, as she often does, opts for the Hiking Club Trail, which is State Park-speak for "the best trail we could create that older groups won't yell about it being too difficult."
Emma and I climb the steep, 100 steps of Chimney Rock then follow it up to the overlook and down to the sandstone. Then Emma wades across the Whitewater River, then falls in with her clothes on. Repeatedly. It will be a long car ride home for her.
The park: Carley State Park (25 minutes from Rochester)
The hike: Overlook Trail
On the drive over, we each make up quizzes about ourselves to see which family members know the most (and least) about us. This seems like a bad idea from the start, and I say so.
The family starts the quizzes anyway. Favorite colors and bands and best friends. Stuffed animals from childhood. That sort of thing.
Somehow, I answer the fewest questions correctly. On every single family member's quiz.
Anyway, I take the Overlook Trail, the perfect mix of water crossings and an excellent overlook.
On the way back down, I see our firstborn, daughter Hadley, on an adjacent trail. "Hadley!" I yell. "Hadley Jean!"
"Oh," she yells back. "I'm surprised you even know my middle name."
Next week: Lange Family Hikes 4-6. Is my wife lost on a hike? Or have I been watching too much "Law&Order?"
Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.