Truly it may be said that the outside of a mountain is good for the inside of a man. ~George Wherry, Alpine Notes and the Climbing Foot, 1896
We set out today to complete our Hiking in the Smokies challenge. The goal for families is 50 miles, and we began the day with 47.4. We hiked the Gatlinburg trail today, one of the two trails in the park that allows dogs. The trail connects the town of Gatlinburg with the Sugarlands Visitor Center, and is 3.8 miles round trip. Upon completion, our grand total was 51. 2 miles.
We have enjoyed so many wonderful adventures while out on the trails. The Smoky Mountains have so much to offer, and we are glad we had the opportunity to spend so much time surrounded by their beauty. We crossed rivers and creeks, found frogs, birds and countless bugs, scaled a lookout tower (well, the brave ones did…), admired wildflowers, looked for bears, watched the trees bud, raced down trails, laughed, and spent some quality time together. In the end, we finally did see our bear, and we witnessed an amazing transformation as the Great Smoky Mountains came to life after a long winter’s rest.
Spending so much time out in the woods and on the trails has been good for all of us. The kids have learned so much about bugs and little critters and nature in general, not to mention they have become excellent spotters and are able to see things that Rob and I would walk right by. We have all learned the names of some trees and flowers that were previously unknown to us.
Hiking is something we will enjoy for years to come, but since we are scheduled to leave Tennessee soon, it may be a while until we return to hike more in the Smokies. For now, though, it feels good to have completed something we set out to do. We were determined to reach 50 miles here in the park, and while we did repeat a couple of the trails, every mile was unique and thoroughly enjoyed. I’d say that’s a mission accomplished.