Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Today was another day for hiking. We had already done a day of several short hikes so today we wanted to do one longer hike. Now, for serious hikers today’s hike would not be considered a long hike but when you are hiking with 3 kids five-miles, mostly uphill, is loooong.
We chose to do the Alum Cave Bluff Trail for a total fo 5.5 miles. It is a “moderate” hike that leads you along Alum Cave Creek, through Arch Rock, up to Inspiration Point, until finally reaching Alum Cave Bluffs. We could have kept hiking past the bluffs to the top of Mount Leconte but the trail becomes much more difficult from there and my nerves couldn’t take another one of my kids getting a little too close to the steep ledges.
The hike was perfect for the day. When we started out we knew that there was a chance of rain and we were just hoping we could get the hike in before the downpour. The first section of the hike was easy, just a slight incline along the creek. It was beautiful. There were log bridges set up above some places where the trail crossed the creek and the sound of the water falling along the trail brought you a sense of zen. One of my favorite parts of the hike was the section at Arch Rock. It is a natural tunnel through a rock just before the steeper part of the hike started. Very, very cool.
The terrain started to become steeper after Arch Rock. It was pretty much uphill the remainder of the hike. There were some places where the kids made me a bit nervous getting a little close to the side of the trail that falls off toward the ledge. Let’s face it, they can be a bit clumsy (they get it from me) and the trail was wet.
Our next stop on the trail was Inspiration Point. The trail opens up, out of the trees at this point and you can see the beautiful mountains and valleys all around. This is also when you realize how high you are and the majesty of God’s creation. Noah’s favorite part of this section was the small brown snake we saw warming itself on the rocks. I had to drag him away from that snake.
The next stop was Alum Cave Bluffs. There is no actual cave here but instead it is rock formations that create deep overhangs. It made for a great place for the kids to watch several squirrels scurry around looking for food. These squirrels were not at all scared of people, the kids were getting within inches of them before they would run away.
Once we had seen the bluffs we chose to not push on to Mount Leconte and instead started the descent back to the trailhead. Let me tell you, sometimes going down is much worse than going up! I was thankful for our hiking sticks many times through this trip. Noah, who is deathly afraid of heights, spent the first section of the descent muttering “God will protect me” under his breath. Then I watched both Logan and Noah slip multiple times at different points only to catch themselves with their hiking sticks. I didn’t get so lucky. I had put my stick away, thinking we were almost back and the trail was flat, and I managed to slip on a root. I went straight down on my bottom, giving myself a few bruises on my backside and thighs. Oh well, that’s just part of it. Bruises heal but memories like that one last forever.
We did not completely dodge the rain and I’m glad we didn’t. The rain started on us around our last mile. It was fun finishing up the hike with rain coming down on us. It wasn’t so bad though, the tree canopy kept us from getting soaked. We made it back to the truck just as the rain was letting up.
We ate our lunch in the truck at one of the overlooks then took a drive out to the Cosby area to see it. We had almost done a hike that lead out of that area so we at least wanted to drive out there to check it out. Once we got back into Pigeon Forge we did a little souvenir shopping, got some dinner and now find ourselves back at the camper. Guess what I’m doing….laundry. Yep, laundry still has to get done even when you are on vacation.