Geocaching, Disc Golf, Fishing, Hiking….Just Not Enough Time In One Weekend

Do you ever feel like you never have enough time in one weekend to do everything you wish to do? We do quite often…this past weekend was one of them. However, we did fit in quite a bit of fun along with some chores that needed to be done also.

First off, Saturday morning we wanted to cross off a few things on the to do list so we made a trip to a local retailer to buy 8 bags of mulch.

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While I spread mulch around our house my husband prepared the boat for the 2017 season and also pressure washed outside toys, tables, chairs, and high chairs from the long winter. This always brightens up everything and is so easy to do.

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Add in a few loads of laundry and some bedding that was cleaned and hung outside to dry and it was now time to have some fun.

We finally went geocaching. In case you missed our new goal announcement, we have decided to section hike the entire Mountain Bay Trail and while doing this we also plan to search and find all the placed geocaches along the way.

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We searched and found all but two in a 4.5 mile section.One was not even attempted do to the width of the ditch of water that would have had to be jumped across and one was simply not located. The trail was quite quiet in this section and offered us some well deserved peace and quiet time.

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Oh, and without leaving out the best worst part of the whole hike, I can now add four more snakes to the list….these things literally make my heart skip a beat. I have a feeling it’s going to be a bad year for these little critters….or maybe I should say, a bad year for me since I seem to be the one to always find them.

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That sums up Saturday…. a productive, yet fun day.

Sunday I woke up later than my husband to breakfast prepared for me. How wonderful was that….I have the best husband ever, in my opinion.

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After breakfast we went fishing for a few hours on a local river. I am not the biggest fan of fishing but sometimes its fun to give it a try. Today was not my lucky day….I caught nothing!! My husband was the lucky one and caught two, both of which he threw back, but its the catch that is the exciting part not cleaning and eating of the catch.

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After this it was a quick trip home for lunch and to pick up our son after he was done working. We had made family plans to hit the disc golf course for the first time this year. This is always fun since we normally are pretty rusty at first. Although, to my surprise I did much better at this than fishing. My first basket I achieved in two throws….with disgust from both my husband and my son. Ahhh, it sure felt good to throw a disc again.

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18 baskets later and it was home for dinner and relaxation time before the week once again.

 

Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee

This was the only state park we visited while in the state of Tennessee. Located in Bledsoe and Van Buren counties and it surrounds the eastern top of the rugged Cumberland Plateau. We explored two waterfalls while here, Fall Creek Falls and Cane creek Falls.

Even when you take into consideration that we visited here without a plan, in mid January, and really only came to hike a quick hike to the Fall Creek Falls itself…..our visit here ended up being quite amazing. Now, apparently, there is an inn, campsites, cabins and meeting rooms for, I would assume, weddings and such…..we saw non of this. Like I said, it was quickly planned and we went directly to the trailhead we were seeking without any extra exploration.

Upon arrival to the trailhead we found ample parking, great signage, and an overlook for anyone not hoping to hike down to the falls itself.

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All very gorgeous and easily accessible……but we were looking to hike. So down into the gorge we headed.

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It was amazing. The terrain was mostly rock with some dirt trail here and there. We knew to be careful not to turn an ankle since the park ranger we spoke to upon arriving told us many individuals do injure themselves on this trail.

Beside the falls itself, our favorite spot we found to explore was a crevice in the rock that we all crawled into. If you recall in Sedona, the new family rule is I only hike on trails that are as wide as my hips and thankfully my hips fit through this crevice which meant I could also explore with my boys.

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Eventually you arrive at the end of the trail and two waterfalls roaring over the edge into the gorge.

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After we all did some exploring in this area it was time to head back out of the gorge and see if we could find our way to Cane Creek Falls.

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Although, by the time we reached the top again, we were hot…. in January…..again just amazing, so it was time do some adjusting to our zip off hiking pants.

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To reach Cane Creek Falls you followed a fairly smooth trail through some dense wooded areas with lookouts along the way.

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For us the lookouts were quite a disappointment since you could see very little if anything around the over grown tree line. So we headed a bit further down the trail to what we had read was a swinging bridge. How fun does that sound right? Well, it was fun, shaky and a bit unnerving to see cables with only, what I refer to as, chicken wire for edges. However, you only live once, so we all crossed it once and then twice to return to our vehicle from there.

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Our entire hike took us 5.3 miles through this state park.

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The park service rated this hike as strenuous and going into the gorge down to the falls I would agree simply because of the terrain. With that being said, I think anyone not disabled could do this at a comfortable pace per individual.

The trail to Cane Creek Falls I would rate as easy….since there is very little rock to be scrambling over to reach the overlooks.

 

Appalachian Trail to the Boulevard in the Smoky Mountains National Park

The second hike we did in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park would be the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) to the Boulevard.

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This was a bucket list dream come true for me. I have always wanted to hike on the A.T. and this was my moment to do it.

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We started this trail at the Newfound Gap parking area where there is once again, ample parking with great photo opportunities right from the parking area.

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Here we did find that the restrooms were open in January unlike the other trailheads in this national park.

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A few things to note about this trail. Unlike the Alum Cave trail, which was at a lower elevation, this trailhead was much colder. We found snow in the parking area,

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and it did not take long for my husbands fingers to freeze.

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So if it’s warmer down below, be prepared to have layers on up above. We were not prepared for this at all, especially since we did not even think we would be hiking in the national park while visiting Tennessee. Although, we did have enough supplies to safely do what we did and not put ourselves into danger.

As for the trail itself…..it’s strenuous with a capital S!!!¬† You will be boulder climbing at times on the edge of cliffs, stumbling on tree roots and everything in between. If your anything like me, you will love every second of it.

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When we arrived at the signs that said we had made it to our goal,

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we had the pleasure of being greeted by some friends of nature. I am amazed being so far back in the wilderness, these two deer were very friendly and not afraid of us at all.

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After taking a short beak and photographing these fury friends we headed back to the trailhead……standing around made me very chilly and we needed to get moving again.

My family hiked a total of 6.3 miles on the A.T.

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and I have the memories and the photos to look back on and remember forever.

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This trail is not for children, it’s is strenuous and is hard on the ankles with many spots that accidents could happen. The first mile or so you will see people, after this you will be alone and come across few if any individuals.That being said, if you get the chance and are in good shape, go for it, I am sure you will not regret it.

 

Alum Cave Hike In The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We did two hikes while in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in January. One being the Alum Cave hike to the bluffs.

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According to the day hikes guide we picked up at the Sugarlands visitor center upon arrival,

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it was a fairly short hike, 4.6 miles round trip and rated as strenuous.

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This trail was amazing…..there were so many different things to look at, experience, and explore. First, I must remind you, we were here in January and this particular day was a Saturday. The trail was no doubt wet. Some spots were wetter than others but easily doable.

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A bit down the trail we came to our first of three one sided bridges that were over water.

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This trail does follow a stream/river almost the entire way which makes for some very nice photo opportunities along the way.

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(photo courtesy of our son, Quade Byrnes Photography)

Eventually you will come to a cave opening that has steps built into it that will bring you up and over away from the stream. This is Alum Cave. There is cable built into the wall of the bluff for guidance but it is not difficult in any way, in my opinion.

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After going through the cave we came across our first water crossing without a bridge. In January we found it easy to find big enough rocks to make it across with dry feet.

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Upon reaching the bluffs, it was still very foggy and made for a good rest spot while our son took all the photographs he came to get. This also made a nice spot to stop and have a snack and cool down. It was a warm hike, being about 60 degrees outside on this day, but it is straight up the mountain the entire way.

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After this we headed back down the same trail we came up and back to the parking area where we began. Of course, there were more photographs to be taken along the way.

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For us this trail was great. Our GPS read 5.6 miles round trip when we returned to the vehicle. Now, we did make a few extra steps for necessary reasons but an extra mile I would have to wonder about. However, after many years of hiking I have found no one measurement of mileage on a trail is ever the same so for us it ended up being 5.6 miles proudly!

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A few things I must mention…..in January you will not find the restrooms at the trailhead open. So take care of “business” before hand. The parking area for this trail is well mark, easy to find and has ample parking. However, in January when we returned from our hike, vehicles were lined up on the road due to full lots everywhere. I can only imagine summer/spring and fall to be even worse. So I would say, arrive early during all seasons.

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And, as near other trailheads we have visited, this one was also well marked to take all valuables with you.

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I would highly recommend this hike if you are in good shape and like mountain hiking. Children will also be able to easily do this trail with parent supervision. Cliff edges are easily manageable and the views are breathtaking.

 

First Hike Of 2017

We decided to forgo the gym on January 1st. and hike since the sun was shining and I came down with some sort of nasty respiratory bug which made working out difficult the day before. Plus, my husband was dying to try out his new GPS we bought him for Christmas.

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We headed to my favorite nearby trail to see if the construction signs were removed yet and the trail had reopened. Upon arrival, I was thrilled to see it open….it had been closed for at least the last 6 months. We wasted no time making tracks in the snow since it was too cold to stand around.

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The temperature was about 20 degrees when we arrived but the winds were quite low which made this hike fairly tolerable for this time of year. The trail did have varying depths of snow cover but was still easy to maneuver through.

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It felt so good to be outside and soak up some natural sunshine. It has been weeks since I have ventured onto any trail in the area.

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Even though my toes were cold by the time we were finished, it was a great way to start the new year.

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Today we hiked the first 3 miles(almost) of many more to come this year.

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Did you do anything special on January 1st?