Took my 4-year-old daughter out backpacking for the first time Saturday and Sunday. There was some good, some bad. I took her, three friends and their sons and we went to Huckleberry Knob along the TN-NC border in the Nantahala National Forest, just south of the Smokies.
Huckleberry is a bald at 5,600 feet. It’s about a 1.2 mile hike, so not hard on the kids. Here’s what happened.
Me, on the right, and a buddy of mine starting out. The kids are in front of us.
We walked into some more woods, went another half mile and came out at Huckleberry Knob.
My daughter is to the left in the pink jacket and pink Dora backpack.
It kind of surprised us when we got up there. When we left Chattanooga, Tenn. it was 60 and sunny. When we got up there it was 34 and overcast. The cold didn’t surprise us. It was the overcast part. Every weather forecast we looked at said it would be sunny everywhere. But the mountains have a mind of their own and when we got to the summit, looked around and noticed the only clouds in the sky were the ones hanging above us.
We got to the top, made camp and started to enjoy the scene around us. We were at the highest point in that mountain chain and around us we were surrounded by a sea of mountains. You could see some of the cloudbank floating underneath us over in NC.
That didn’t last long. Within an hour, a cloudbank came in and ennveloped us. The rest of the evening all we had was a dense soupy fog around us. It got colder and windier. We had prepared for the cold, but for some dumb reason unknown we didn’t prepare for the wind. I should have known better. We had no hard shells for us or the kids and within minutes we were all huddled by the fire and the kids were crying.
It got to night and I put my daughter down to bed. She slept like a champ, but beforehand she kept telling me she was afraid of the wind and it scared her. Kept asking me why I picked a place so windy. I had no clue she’d be scared by the wind. She also missed mommy.
At about 4 a.m the wind got even heavier blowing the tents. But we all settled down and went back to sleep. It was still a soupy fog outside and I was worried it would be like that at sunrise.
The sun rose and I heard a friend say it was beautiful and I had to come see.
Then we headed home having a scavenger hunt with the kids on the way back. Some of the leaves were turning up at that height and the wildflowers were in full bloom. Had a fun time telling them to find leaves and flowers. We left it was 32 when we got home it was 62.
Carolina said she hated the trip, but said she wants to go backpacking again, just somewhere “less windy.” I’ll start looking around for that place soon and think I’ll take her out again when the leaves start peaking in the valley.
I know she didn’t like it this time, but I think time will have its toll. I think someday when she is older and looks back on these photos she’ll think about how much her daddy loved her to do thing like this with her.
It wasn’t the trip I planned and you get the trip Mother Nature gives you. But Mother Nature smiled on us Sunday morning and it was worth it to me to get up and share that beautiful sunrise with my little girl.