Hiking in The Great Smoky Mountains
What's the best way to test a relationship? Book a flight to Nashville and let your boyfriend experience your airport anxiety firsthand. Just jokes... kinda ;)
Now, let me explain... I don't have a problem with the idea of being in the air. Scoot, scootin' ... up, up & away. I'm cool with that. The issue lies in this fear [some call it irrational, ha] that I'm going to miss my flight. What could possibly happen, you ask?! Well, any AND everything... traffic on the way to the airport, a mile long security line, a misplaced boarding pass, a last minute gate switch... I could go on forever, but I'll stop and spare you from going any farther into this crazy mind swirl.
None of this nonsense that I listed above occurred on our trip. Shocker, right?! Ha.
We compromised, and agreed to leave early - about 2 hours before our departure time - which called for a 4:30AM wakeup call. Phew. But, the entire airport process was actually easy-peasy and... dare I say ... comfortable?! Keaton has TSA pre-check and access to the admirals club. So I too benefited, as his +1, and it's safe to say this was unlike any airport experience I've had in the past. No waiting in long lines, no TSA fuss, AND I even had a tasty lil trail mix snack [in a comfy chair] pre-flight. I'll admit I was a pretty spoiled beezy. Thank you.
So off we went, on our way to Nashville. We landed and rented a car asap [claps n' snaps for Derrick @ Dollar]. After about 3+ hours of driving [+ Podcasting] we arrived in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. What was on the agenda?! Hiking.
First, we checked into our airbnb. We booked this cute cabin tucked way up in the windy hills of Gaitlinberg, TN. The location was perfect and it gave us great access to hike pretty much any trail we wanted in the park.
After quickly dropping off our suitcases, we ventured to the nearby Sugarlands Visitors Center to get a map and explore options for day hikes. We only had a few hours left of daylight so we opted to start with a shorter, easier hike that day - Laurel Falls - and save a longer hike for the next morning - Alum Cave.
Laurel Falls was a great lil trail to kick things off! It was like a nice, relaxing hike in the woods.
We followed the trail up the mountain to a waterfall. We even saw a bitty black bear boppin' through the forest on the way up!
Pictures don't do it justice. Really. This goes for the entire trip. So many times I held my phone up to snap a shot and then said, eh forget it.
Even as we drove throughout the park, the windy roads took us up the mountain to see some of the most beautiful views of fogged topped trees in the distance. Look. LOOK! I'd exclaim to Keaton, as I gawked and pointed out the window. Gorg! I can swipe through my camera roll all I want, but nothing in that lil phone of mine captures the beauty of the sites we saw. IRL, people. Visit the Smokys!
The next day we woke up early and ventured to a different trail. Alum Cove was on our list.
The first portion of this hike runs along a creek. Ah, so soothing I must say. As the trail winded up the mountain, we passed through Arch Rock [the first milestone on the trail] ...
... up & up we continued...
and then the trail began to increase in both difficulty and MORE gorg scenery and views. Eventually we made it to our destination of Alum Cave.
[sights on sights]
This trails continues upward another 3 - 4 miles to Mt. Leconte. But we wanted to get back to Nash for some city exploring so we marked this as our stopping point and ventured back down the mountain.
Keaton has a goal of hiking in every US National Park. I think that's pretty awesome and ambitious. I'm so glad I was able to tag along for one trip on the list and flex my little hiking muscle. If you know me, you know I'm not necessarily a nature gal. camping? hiking? ... hmmm, I ride stationary bikes in dark studios and bee bop to tunes on the flat sidewalks of Chicago. I see wildlife from time to time... in the form of pigeons or squirrels... just jokes. These concrete jungle critters don't even flinch when you pass because they're so used to the noisy hustle and bustle of the city.
But, hiking-skill aside, I gave it my best shot! This trip was amazing and I had a great partner in crime. It was so refreshing to escape the city for a long weekend and just enjoy the peaceful, quietness of nature-livin' in the Smokys.
We concluded our trip back in Nashville where we bar hopped, enjoyed lots of delicious food and grooved to country tunes.
Trip 1, down. Yeehaw. Excited to see where our next adventure will take us!