There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.
~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
We decided to celebrate the arrival of the wonderful new season with a hike up a mountain. We are taking part in the “Hike the Smokies for Families” and the goal is to log 50 miles in the park. Rob had the day off today so it was the perfect time to add some mileage to our book. We chose Mt. Sterling since it is relatively close to home and had a decent distance to it without being too unrealistic this early in the season. Hiking in was fun because it was uphill. Every. Single. Step. I kid you not, but I suppose this is how it goes when you are on your way up to a lookout tower!
I am amazed every time we take the kids out just how well they do hiking. They do stop from time to time for a quick rest, and they cannot be quiet to save their lives, which makes seeing any wildlife pretty much impossible, but they are such good sports! No matter how far we try to drag them, they always go willingly, rarely complain about anything and they have never once asked to turn back. They absolutely rock.
As I mentioned, we will never see any wildlife while out on the trail, we just make too much noise. William can’t leave sticks alone, and once he gets one in his hand, he proceeds to whack everything that crosses his path. And they all like to talk. A lot. When we were almost at the top of the mountain today, Catheryn spotted a paw print in the mud. It was a fresh print, made not long before we passed by, but the black bear who left it heard us coming, no doubt, and was long gone.
As we rounded the corner, we finally caught our first glimpse of the lookout tower.
Everyone wanted to climb to the top, despite the fact that it was old and rickety. I, too, wanted to make it to the top for a few pictures, but as we got closer, I realized it was much taller than I had originally thought.
I don’t consider myself to be afraid of heights, but this was a bit much for me. I attempted, but couldn’t make it past the second platform. I handed the camera to Rob so he could take some pictures for me and he and the boys went to the top. Catheryn and I sat on the bottom steps and ate some trail mix, hoping to see a black bear walk by.
As imagined, the view from the top was pretty amazing, even if I did have to see it in pictures. After a break and small snack, we began making our way back down the mountain. It was cold and getting colder, so we were grateful that the trip down went much faster than the trip up.
We saw only one person in the 4 hours and 15 minutes it took us to complete the hike, and he was headed down while we were still heading up. We may not have seen any animals, but we had a good time anyway. It was peaceful. And beautiful. And I cannot think of a more wonderful way to welcome Spring, the most amazing of all seasons.
This evening I logged 5.4 miles in our book, which takes us to the first milestone: a stamp at 10 miles.