...with a husband and 5 sons, I am truly outnumbered....stories and thoughts on life from a mom in a houseful of little men!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New Playgrounds: day 11

When I think of adventuring in Tennessee, I always think of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  Of course, probably everyone does, as it's the most-visited National Park in the U.S.  I had not previously known, however, about another, lesser-known National Park in Tennessee, but I'm so happy some wonderful new friends introduced us to
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.
What a great place to camp, hike, and explore.  Although the weather forecast was quite grim, we decided to chance it.  I'm so glad we did.  Cool temperatures and a few gentle rains made for a perfect weekend to enjoy campfires, hiking, and fun times together.  
 We felt right at home, as it felt exactly like an August weekend in Alaska.  

There are tons of hiking and biking trails in this park.  We went for a five-mile hike on Saturday, which included a visit to an 1800's farmstead.
 The Park Service keeps three horses and a cat in residence there.  The horses were all snuggled up in the barn when we visited, but we did get to meet Willy the resident cat.  He was pretty happy to have some company.
I must tell you, the trails are numerous, but they are not well-marked.  We had a real time trying to find the trail head, and once we found it,  we still wound up on a horse trail.  After flagging down a Park Ranger, we hiked in style, however, as he personally escorted us for the first mile or so, showing us all sorts of interesting things.  Our nine-year-old asserts, "Ranger David tripled our fun!"  I agree.  He pointed out all sorts of plant species and bear sign, and educated us on a great number of natural wonders.

This morning, although some fellow campers invited us to "cowboy church" at their site at 8:30 this morning, we slept in a bit, listening to the gentle drumming of rain. After this restful morning, we headed out to see what else Big South Fork had to explore, but not before the official swearing-in ceremony of our new Junior Ranger.
He worked so hard on his Jr. Ranger booklet, and has the badge and patch to prove it.

Angel Falls Rapid.  It has some interesting history.  Apparently some fisherman in the 50's decided to blast a rock in the river in order to improve fishing and boating; however, instead of improving the river for these purposes, it created a very precarious, class III-IV rapid with a dangerous undercut.  Many people have lost their lives in these rapids, by missing the portage or by disregarding the "strong encouragement to portage."  It's very beautiful, though, much more impressive than a camera records.  Our 11-year-old insists, "It's a good thing those fishermen blasted it."

After viewing those beautiful rapids, we turned around and headed back to make lunch, enjoying the river along the way.
And, after lunching and trying our best to dodge Poison Ivy, we turned our Little House toward home, successfully wearing out Boyland.  This Alaska Girl gives Big South Fork National Park a big thumbs-up.

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