Saturday, July 4, 2020
Today we had a full day of biking, hiking, truck riding, & rafting. We started our day at the Sugarlands Visitor Center at the Gatlinburg entrance to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. There is where you can find the trailhead to the Gatlinburg Trail, one of the only trails you can bike in the park. We biked the trail, which was around 3.7 miles round trip. It was a fun, pretty ride along a creek. It was nice but there is a lot of foot traffic as well so you have to be extra careful around the hikers.
The best part of the ride was at the end when we saw our first bear of this trip to GSMNP!!! It was so cool! The black bear was walking directly in front of the park headquarters, literally on the sidewalk. We had all gotten split up as we made our way back to the trailhead. I was with Noah in front of the park headquarters and Johnny, Macy and Logan were behind the park headquarters. We all watched the same bear at different times thinking the others were missing it. I was able to get some decent pictures and a video of the bear walking around the building.
We all met up just after seeing the bear. We parked our bikes and did a short hike to see a waterfall. It was a nice hike…after we explained to Noah that his walking stick was not a sword (Logan was the bearer of that unfortunate event). What can I say, boys will be boys.
Once we finished our hike we were hot and tired. We had a couple of hours before we needed to get ready for our rafting trip so we decided to take a drive around one loop in the park. The drive took us along a river and was a great chance for everyone to cool off and rest for a bit.
The highlight of our day was at the end of our day. We headed out for a whitewater rafting trip on the Pigeon River. It was amazing!!! We all went in a little nervous, not sure what to expect. We left all ready to do it again. It actually rained on us for most of the trip. We arrived at River Rat Whitewater with perfect blue skies. By the time we arrived by bus to the boat launch site, it was pouring. The rain made us all even more nervous. Of course, our guide was amazing and went on about her business like there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. There was a rapid right out of the gate that soaked Johnny & Logan who were sitting in the front. We all immediately decided this trip was going to be great. Noah did not stop talking the entire time. He told our guide all about his dog, his friends, and rainstorms he’d been in. Our guide and Noah joked and talked the whole way down the river. We have done a scenic rafting tour in Jackson Hole (also on the 4th of July) but we’ve all decided that whitewater rafter is way more fun. We can’t wait to do it again!!
We ended the day exhausted. So exhausted in fact that the kids never even asked if we could go watch the fireworks display happening down the road here in Pigeon Forge. Instead, everyone is laid up in bed resting up for another full day tomorrow.