We have frequently kicked ourselves for living here for so long and taking so little advantage of the Great Smoky Mountains. Last summer's excursions to Metcalf Bottoms were officially the first time we've gone up that way as a family. Last Saturday we made recompense for our sin of omission and took the kids hiking.
Cades Cove Loop is not for the faint of heart during peak tourist season. We looked potential hours of slow-moving traffic in the face and decided to go anyway, because who knows when we'll find the right window of time for going again? We knew it was going to be worth it when we saw colors like this out the sunroof.
It was just as crowded as we expected, and it got more than a little nerve-wracking when at times we traveled 1/10 of a mile in twenty minutes. But faces like this in the backseats let us know the kids would survive just fine:
|I love where we live. I love it.|
Early in the loop we saw this small group of deer and got all excited. I leaned over Scott in the driver's seat to zoom in and snap up a bunch of photos.
Not long after that sighting the traffic came to a total standstill, so the kids and I got out to stretch our legs and walked ahead a bit. It didn't take long to find out why the line of cars was stopped. Three does were foraging around just about ten feet away from the kids and I as we stood at the roadside.
Finally we made it to our destination, the Abrams Falls trailhead. Two and a half miles each way didn't seem like a very strenuous hike and we'd heard that this was an easy stroll up the mountain. It was beautiful but Lydia and Afton heartily disagreed about the easy part and were both carried a good portion of the way. I didn't mind carrying them as most of the trail was a mess of sticking-up roots and rocks. Every time one of them attempted to walk unassisted resulted in a face-plant and/or skinned knees.
|The bridges were a favorite.|
|Emma curated a fine collection of leaves.|
|On the hike out we were all a bit more tired.|
|As we were nearing the end we nearly walked right by this guy.|