Monday, November 12, 2012

The Kids First Hike

This past Friday the weather forecast was exceptional, for November, so Amy and I planned little family outing to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Our son who is four just loves going to Elkmont to hike, camp, and fish.  Unfortunately, the campground is now closed and the water is too cold for him to really wade in, but the hiking part is still doable.  The biggest dilemma was what to do with the 14 month old baby.  Enter my wife who found a nice Kelty TC 21 toddler carrier on Craigslist.  I quickly checked it out and bought it from the lady, and now we were equipped for our adventure.  As the days passed I had to find a hike that would be both easy to access via vehicle since it technically is still tourist season and the roads can become clogged, but additionally it had to be an easy hike with lots of sights to keep my son entertained.  The plan was that I would carry the baby girl, and my son would do the entire hike on foot instead of being carried.  A year ago he wanted a hiking backpack of his own, and although he uses it multiple times a week he still had not used it on a hike.  It has a 1/2 gallon water bladder and lots of storage, so by the time I loaded it with water, his rain jacket, and a change of pants it probably weighed around 6 pounds.  Not an insignificant amount of weight for a 4-yr old that probably only weighs around 40 lbs soaking wet.  Regardless, he was anxious to start on his hike like a big boy and I was ready to try out the new Kelty pack.

Additionally, I rigged my wife up with my Osprey Stratos 24 pack and it had an additional insulation layer for each of us, a backpacking cookset, safety and first aid gear, and some additional snacks. (estimated weight around 12 lbs)  My son threw on his pack, and I strapped the baby girl to my back and away we went.
Baby Sis enjoying her new ride

The plan was to hike to Walker Sister's Cabin near Metcalf Bottoms, a roundtrip hike of 2.2 miles.  The cabin itself was a one way in spur, that would the apex of the hiking trip.  I thought a good little treat would be for me to fix everybody some hot chocolate once we arrived at the cabin for a peaceful little break.  The scenery was nice, and the weather was splendid making for a beautiful hike.

I was not surprised to see other people on the trail, but I was to find a couple other families with kids on the trail.  That was nice for our son to see other kids hiking with their families, and it added to his entertainment.  It took a while for us to hike the 1.1 miles to the cabin because it was mostly uphill, although a mild gradient, due to my son making multiple stops to investigate multiple sights.
Our Son sporting his backpack and Leki Hand-me-down

Eventually, we did make it to the cabin and the kids enjoyed checking it out and listening to mommy talk about how people lived 100 years ago.
Trey ran into another little boy at the cabin and they shared stories about how they thought life was in the cabin...
Trey and his friend in the cabin
While the kids were playing around the cabin and listening to stories, I was trying to make everybody some hot chocolate to enjoy while relaxing.
Oww Oww, look at that shirt...

Eventually it was time to leave the cabin to try and make it back to the car before it got dark.  Just before leaving though I could not pass up the opportunity to filter some fresh water from the onsite spring for the return hike.  On the hike back our son started complaining that he was getting tired, but he had already walked about 1.5 miles.  We found that if he was talking to mom while walking that he didn't not notice that he was tired, it was not until there was a break in the activity that he began to get tired.  I almost think it was more of a boredom issue that a physically tiring event.  I was quite proud that he managed to do the 2.2 miles on his own, and he is already asking when we can do another one.  Additionally, the Kelty pack performed quite well considering it was a used purchase.  I estimated that the total weight including the baby girl was around 28 lbs, and the shoulder straps, back panel, and hip belt were comfy throughout the hike.  A downside is that it is bulky and heavy when empty, but it was quite sturdy and the baby girl never really complained during the entire hike.

Once we returned to the car, our son wanted to play "School" in the old schoolhouse.  It was a fun day for all of us on this family hike, and I am anxiously awaiting the next adventure...
Instructor Trey

Until next time, God Bless.


David Knapp said...

Looks like a fun hike out in nature! Great idea with the hot chocolate as well. Small details like that really help make memories for the kids and help them learn to love the great outdoors!

Irene_J said...

Wow! That would be the best experience your sons had for now. I'm sure they enjoyed the hiking trip. :)

By: Mae of Fishing in Hawaii

Adam Wilson said...

Just saw this post. That was some great weather for sure. We've taken our boys out a few times in around the Norris watershed on some short hikes. We use a kelty pack to haul our little guy in. We got it when Andrew was very little. Its been a great pack, but it was pretty expensive. Aden can "hike" for a little while, but he ends up tired and ready to ride.

One of the most important things about taking kids on trips like this is keeping snacks, drinks and other forms of entertainment on hand to keep their minds off of the tiredness. :)

Thanks for sharing! We should try to get together this spring for some fishing... OR this winter :)

19" Clinch River Brown