We were still recovering from Greece and the weather was nice. Since I generally like my kids better when we are outside, I decided that it might be a good day for a creek hike in the gorge. I figured the waterfall at the end of the trail would keep them motivated. I also warned them that they were going to get their feet wet and muddy, they did not seem to have a problem with that :)
They were impressed by the waterfall.
We had lunch in the shade.
And then they played while I drank a beer :)
We saw a crawfish in a pool near the waterfall and then this butterfly, no snakes :)
My youngest kid (3.5 years) has been asking when she could go camping with me, but not the rest of the family, just the two of us. I considered taking just her car camping, but decided that I might as well take all three kids. The weather was still ridiculously nice for the beginning of November, so a one night trip was in order. I had been eyeing the Rockcastle campground after someone mentioned it in relation to the Bee Rock campground and I had briefly scouted it out on our Laurel River Lake trip in October. In addition, I wanted to play with the new kayak a little bit more and the whole reason I got the one I did was in the hope that all three kids would fit for the time being.
We drove down Saturday after breakfast and got to the campground around 12. We set up camp and I went to fill up my water jug from the faucet near the bathroom, but no water was to be had. Later I ran into a couple guys in a Forest Service truck who said the water had not worked for more than a couple years. That was not a huge problem except that my breakfast (coffee and oatmeal) depended on us having a minimum of 24oz of water. I had a 1 liter nalgene and 3 8-oz water bottles so I was sort of ok.
The kids also took the opportunity to explore the area
This is the view from the large rock down below the campsite. Not a bad view.
After setting up camp, we drove to the boat ramp and got the kayak inflated and piled in to check out the Rockcastle River. The kids loved it and I was happy to see that the kayak handled better with some weight in the bow. The views from the river were great and I was happy that all the other boaters were courteous and slowed down as they passed us.
We passed a number of submerged trees with these "sacks" on them. I suspect they are fish eggs, but I'm not sure.
We had a fire for breakfast
And then went for another paddle.
My oldest decided to relax at one point, that's her waving hello to the camera
And then it was time to pack up and head home for school/work on Monday. On the way up the hill, we stopped at the overlook for one last view.
The Rockcastle Campground is very quiet, the restrooms were a little stinky, but not terrible. The biggest issue was the lack of water, but that is easy to take care of in the future. I wish there was river access from the campsites, but the boat ramp is close and makes launching a kayak really easy. I suspect we will be back.
Kids were out of school for fall break, so we left work early on Friday and drove an hour or so south to meet friends for a weekend of car camping at Laurel River Lake. Ended up having great weather and our campsite had easy access down the hill to the lake.
The kids loved throwing rocks in the water and the older ones explored a little on their own.
We all went for a short hike on the Sheltowee Trace.
The kids also occupied themselves with coloring and crafts while I napped in my hammock.
We took the long way home and went by Cumberland Falls. I really want to get back to that area and hike down the river.
A nice weekend with friends and unbelievable weather for the beginning of October.
6/20 - 6/22/16
Great Smoky Mountains
Abrams Creek Trailhead
2016 bag nights: 9
My oldest (7 years) did not have any activities planned for the week since grandparents were coming at the end of the week. I generally like my kids more when we are outside vs. inside, so we decided we would go back to the Smokies again. I was originally planning on taking the middle one as well (5 years) so I was looking for short/flat trails with a creek to play for them to play in. This led me to the Abrams Creek part of the park where I had never been. Then the 5 year old decided he wanted to stay home. So another "dad and daughter" trip like last Labor Day.
The forecast was looking HOT, highs in the low 90s and the Brown Book mentions that this area is best appreciated in cooler months, but other sites I had thought about were closed because of bears. So, Abrams Creek it was.
We hiked in on the Cane Creek Trail (an old road) which was a nice start to the trip...
Checking out Abrams Creek
to the Little Bottoms Trail (there are some nice views of Abrams Creek) ...
and then hit Site 17 after about 2 hours of hiking.
This was about 3.5 miles total, but there is a slight ridge to climb on the Little Bottoms trail, no problem for me, but it worked the little legs a bit. Site 17 is large and spread out with 3 sets of bear cables and 6 or 7 fire rings. But, there was only one other group when we arrived (a dad and his 10 year old son).
We got water and set up camp and then poked around the creek a bit before it was time for an early dinner.
Around 6ish, the bugs got bad enough, we hung out in the tent for a bit hoping that they would disappear. We poked our heads out around 7 and the bugs were mostly gone, wandered over to say high to the dad and son. The dad mentioned that his son wanted to practice his fire starting skills even though it was still in the upper-80s. I said we would help gather firewood and would share a marshmallow if he would share his campfire, no surprise, he was willing to share. We talked for a couple hours and then it was time for bed.
We also discovered a new use for the bear cables.
The next morning we were going to hike to Abrams Falls for an easy dayhike. The dad and son were heading to Site 15 and our paths overlapped for about a mile.
There were some nice views where the tornado hit a couple years ago.
We took a break near a tiny waterfall that was just off the trail
We made it to Abrams Falls, we talked about all of the stupid things people do in places like that that ends up killing them (great lunch time conversation). We actually overheard a guy telling his girlfriend about jumping off the rocks from the top of the falls when the water was higher (basically right over the big log above her head in the 2nd picture).
And then we headed back in the heat. By this time we had found a couple ticks on each of our legs, so we got in the habit of performing tick checks every 15-30 minutes. We found lots more ticks, but got them before they had started biting.
We got back to camp and I jumped in the creek to cool off while my hiking partner played with a couple small buckets at the water's edge.
This occupied her for a while and then it was time for dinner again. In the meantime, another dad and his 14 year old daughter had set up camp nearby. After dinner, we again retreated to the tent to escape the bugs. We then played some games and then ended up talking to the other party until it was time for bed.
The next morning, my partner read while I packed up and then we headed towards the car.
One last look at Abrams Creek
A fun trip even with the bugs and the heat. We both enjoyed running into other dads with kids, something that had never happened before. The worst thing about the trip is we both came back with a ton of bug bites. I have no idea what they were, but we both ended up with them all over, almost like we were sleeping with a flea covered dog. In the end, not a big deal, but there was a lot of itching over the next couple of days.