Baby’s first hike through the Smokies

Becky, Loyette and I spent Memorial Day communing with nature, as we hiked the Porters Creek Trail, a roughly 7-mile walk through the woods in the Smoky Mountain National Park.

It was very fun, if somewhat exhausting. (The hike to the campsite at the end of the trail was relentlessly uphill; the walk back was, naturally, downhill, and therefore mercifully less tiring.) We carried Loyette in her Kangaroo Korner slings, Becky using the fleece one and me using the mesh one, as we always do. We passed her back and forth throughout the roughly six-hour hike, and whoever wasn’t wearing the baby would wear the backpack. So that worked out pretty well.

Loyette was amazingly tolerant of the long day. She got cranky exactly three times — twice just before taking a long nap in her sling (i.e., she was tired), and once just before lunch (i.e., she was hungry). She’s a great baby that way. :) Throughout the vast majority of the hike, she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and seemed very interested in all the new sights, sounds and smells. Of course, that meant not just the natural wonders of the forest, but also the more mundane “wonders” like the feel of cold condensation on the outside of our water bottle, and the way a plastic bag full of peanuts (a handy trail snack) changes shape when you grab the outside of the bag. To a baby, everything new is exciting and wondrous.

Anyway, the trail we hiked is renowned for its beautiful wildflowers in early spring. Since it’s late May, there aren’t as many wildflowers now, but there are some, and they’re pretty. Here are a few that I photographed:

See also this one and this one.

Oh, and the trail also has a somewhat scary bridge, quite reminiscent of the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm (although with a railing, admittedly):

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but there’s really quite a steep drop-off; the water is maybe 15 feet below you in the middle. And given the narrowness of the bridge, it’s legitimately somewhat nerve-wracking to walk across.

I really wanted to find a large stick, hold it up, and proclaim, “You cannot pass! I am the servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. Dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udûn! Go back to the shadow! You shall not pass!!!”

But alas, there was another pair of hikers sitting on a rock nearby, well within earshot, so I had to contain my weirdness. :)

I did, however, do what my dad and I call the Indiana Jones pose — notwithstanding the fact that, to my knowledge, Indiana Jones never did any such pose.

Anyway, I’ll upload some more pictures of the hike to Flickr shortly, and link to them here when they’re online.

P.S. I think this photo is cool:

UPDATE: As promised, here’s the Flickr gallery. It’s two pages long. Enjoy!

8 Responses to “Baby’s first hike through the Smokies”

  1. Becky says:

    The bridge is way more intimidating than it looks because that water is like 10-15ft below it. And as you can see from the dashing pic of Brendan, the bridge itself is only like 16 inches wide.

  2. Nadine says:

    Becky and Brendan you are such fierce parents! [beyond wonderful into that realm of amazing when it comes to ways to share the beauty of being on this planet with your daughter and Loi!]

    […and yes, I’m a totally French romantic it comes to living life…]

  3. Hal says:

    Gorgeous pics! Thanks for posting. And your baby is really adorable. And, I agree with Nadine in that it is obvious you are both awesome parents. You can see that in the little one’s tranquil face! So, who carried her across the bridge?

    I once hiked part of the Appalachian Trail (about 12 miles of it in New York State) with a group of friends. It was exhilarating and exhausting. It poured rain the entire last 2 miles or so, and we all sat drenched on the train ride back into The City. It was awful and wonderful at the same time.

    Also, in case you didn’t know, the Appalachian trail is the nation’s longest marked footpath at 2175 miles, and stretches from Maine to Georgia. it is estimated that it takes 5 million footsteps to walk the entire length of the trail and more than 9000 people are said to have done so! The short part of it we walked was unbelievably pretty, providing several views that were unforgettable.

  4. Brendan Loy says:

    Thanks, Nadine & Hal! :) Though I have to say, it’s easy to be “great parents” when you’ve got such a great baby. She’s always been a very “easy baby” temperamentally; she generally only cries or otherwise gets cranky when she has some fairly obvious need (e.g., she’s tired or hungry). Otherwise she’s a very calm and easy-going kid, and remarkably tolerant of car rides, long days out doing stuff, etc. We certainly do make an effort to expose her to lots of different types of activities, but it would be much harder if she was a fussy baby. And she’s always been a non-fussy baby, from birth, so I don’t think we can claim credit for that, unless maybe genetically. :) Probably not even that, though: we’ve talked to a bunch of parents who had an “easy baby” as their first child and a “difficult baby” as their second child. So who knows? Of course, we’d love Loyette just as much, even if she was a little monster, and that’ll apply to any hypothetical later kids we might have as well. But her temperament definitely does make it easier to do stuff outside of the house, which is great both for her edification and for our sanity!

    To answer your question, Hal, I carried her across the bridge on the way out, and Becky carried her across the bridge on the way back. I was much less nervous on the way back, when I was walking across without her! The drop-off didn’t seem nearly as steep when I wasn’t worrying about dropping my baby off it. After all, if I fall, well, that’s just me. ;)

    As for the Appalachian Trail, I doubt we’ll ever walk the whole thing, but we’d love to do some portion of it sometime, like you did. Actually, the campsite where this trail ended was only about a mile or two away from the Appalachian Trail. Of course, you have to climb a freakin’ mountain to get there, but at least in theory, it’s nearby. :)

  5. KG2V says:

    Only 16″ wide – wimps. (I worked as an Ironworker in college – try 6″ wide, 50-60 feet up…) 16″ wide is a sidewalk

  6. copndor says:

    Only 6″ wide-wimp. (I worked as a painter in college- try 3″wide (right foot, ladder) and 1″ wide (left foot, window sill), 70-80 feet up…) 6″ wide is a highway.

  7. Leanna Loomer says:

    So many things come to mind…

    But I couldn’t count the number of times I read that chapter aloud to you on car trips (and at home) by special request. Three thick volumes, and The Bridge at Khazad-Dum was always the request.

    Mom

    OXO

  8. Brendan says:

    Oh come on now, didn’t I sometimes request Lothlorien? WAW HAW HAW.