Took the boys out for their first overnight backcountry trip. We went up to Beershaba Springs, TN to the South Cumberland Recreational Area. We arrived late Friday night at Stone Door and packed in to the Stone Door Camp area. It was not far in, couldnt have been .25 miles even. OF course it was dark, wood was wet from recent torrental down pour and I had a 6 year old who is terrified of the dark...lol The oldests, 10 years, set out looking for small wood and anything dry to start the fire while I set up the rented Kelty Grand Mesa 4(love by the way! looking for a 2 & 6 now). And the youngest entertained his self with his new headlamp all the while I poor dog was busy scratching at either ticks or poison, havent figured that one out yet. Never did get the fire going before we bedded down for the night. Strung up sacks, very poorly might I add, as recommended. Para cord has many uses but stringing up sacks its not good at. We hung them between two trees about 20 foot from our site then ran a line from the closes across the front of our site about 20 foot to another tree. We tethered our dog to this line. She just could look in our door at us but not reach us and could reach the base of the sacks as well. I felt this protected us as well as the sacks. She did bark a few times just after midnight at something. Whatever it was left and didnt come back. Anyway, rented a sleeping pad this trip. Thermo rest firm I think is what they called it, helped not as sore the next morning. Youngest is terrified of the dark I have to say once again. He freaked out on me. He didnt go to bed until 2 am! There was always some noise in the woods, what if a bear comes?, can we go home now, well what about in the morning....geez! It was a 4 hr drive I had worked all day and was ready to sleep knowing we were to hike in little over 4 miles to Alum Gap the next morning for stay Sat night. Then back out Sunday morning and home. At 4 am he woke up whining that he needed to potty then stole my blanket! I bought him a nice lightweight sleeping bag but he didnt want to use it..lol I was up at this point and dozed slightly off and on. Just before 6 he woke up crying and begging to go home again when two owls landed near us and started conversing with a neighbor a ways off. I finally got him to quiet down and listen and thought it was funny. Before 7am they were up tearing down camp and ready to go. I managed a 3 miles of day hiking with them before he said nope lets go home.
At the risk of ruining the chances of ever getting him back out again, I caved in. With a little over 2 hours of sleep I was thinking of my pillow top matress back home as well, not going to lie about that..ha. I have chalked it up to an experience and will take him back out again soon. But will once again only plane an overnight with day hikes for awhile. I know how much enjoys the hiking and adventure and want him to continue. The oldest loved it and begged not to come home!..lol I'm thinking a weekend with just him may be a good idea soon.
The Park: Well what I saw of it was really nice. When you did see views they were amazing. Campsites were well marked. Up to 8 tents allowed per site. The sites in each "campground" were spread out a good distance to still give you privacy. In fact when we got up Sat am took me a bit to find our neighbors we passed coming in. Wood was scarce but it was the first "campground" in on that trail so expected it to be. Water spigets were available at this area however we were warned since it is July some of the springs on backcountry trails were dry and to plan accordingly. Trails were marked clearly but be carefully of roots that have surfaced. Also ticks seem to be an issue in the summer times...so spray spray spray and take some for your "best friend" as well. All in all a great trip and look forward to going back to the area in the fall. There is a cabin that I am having fits to get out to and spend a day or two at!
The lesson learned: Always expect the unexpected, take it easy when you go with kids and always play it by ear. And ALWAYS HAVE FUN! If your smiling and having a good time, they are likely to as well :)
Photos to come!