Remember how just a couple of posts ago I mentioned how Afton pretty much hates hiking? She would probably clarify there's no "pretty much" about it, she just hates hiking. H A T E S. Walking and walking and walking? What's supposed to be fun about that? You have to keep on walking even when you're really tired? More and more these days our family hikes are punctuated with one little voice lamenting, "I just wish we were back at the van."
This poses a problem for our family, because the rest of us love it. To varying degrees maybe, but I think it's safe to say that it's one of our very favorite activities. There's a fine balance of how often to let six of us have a great time while one of us suffers. So Scott and I have talked about how maybe we just need to take it easy with her. Maybe she hates hiking because we've taken her too far, too young. (Although, to be fair, the past Halloween she also got worn out. Near the end of our route, she opted to just sit by me on the sidewalk and lean on my leg instead of extending the extra effort to actually go up to the last few houses. So, she might just not be cut out for physical endurance activities. :))
So when we were deciding what to do for the second day of fall break, naturally most of the kids suggested hiking. But having just recently gone to Clingman's Dome and Andrew's Bald (only 1 mile and 3.5 miles respectively, but still) we knew Afton was burnt out. And we really don't want her to hate hiking forever. We're really hoping she'll still come around. So Scott and I strategized that the thing to do was find something that gave us the majestic beauty of the Smoky Mountains, the fun of romping around outside, but without the walking and walking and walking.
Cades Cove to the rescue!! An 11 miles loop we could drive and get out and play whenever we wanted, but not ever be obligated to keep on walking was just the thing. And it was perfect. There was a lot of traffic, but we knew that going in to it, so everyone had a great we're-in-no-big-rush attitude. We saw deer, some turkeys, and a mama bear with her cub. We got out and explored a few of the old churches and cabins, and spent some time playing around a stream and climbing trees.
Before we went, Afton was suspicious, not really sure what she was in for. But near the end of the day, she said, and I quote: "Wow, Mom, this is a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be!"
And that's exactly what we were hoping for.
[Again, some of the photo credits go to Emma, all of the landscape shots for sure. And the first half are just phone pics.]