View Full Version : Just got back from first trip

03-30-2013, 20:51
Took my two daughters (10 and 11) to GSMNP this week and had a great time - even with the weather! It was all of ours first backpacking trip and we made a ton of mistakes but learned a lot. Could not have picked worse weather. We got there Sunday and car camped after the drive and it was 60 and sunny. Woke up to a few inches of snow just in time for us to hit the trails and it snowed literally till we left the trails 2 days later. And of course returned to 60 and sunny. We ended up not making a single reservation that we had made for our permit which disappointed the kids but after group after group of adults were doing the same thing they realized that there was no shame in being smart. It was actually kind of a nice winter wonderland snow-globe environment at the lower altitudes but on Tuesday we were just under 5K feet on our way to Mount collins shelter and it turned into hellish blizzard snow storm. So we back tracked for a different campsite at lower altitude.

We all really wanted to at least hike the AT though so we were disappointed we weren't going to get up there like we had planned. So the next day we woke up early and drove up to Newfound gap and hiked the AT up to clingman's dome. Even without packs it was some tough going for the kids and they were gassed quickly. At one of the intersections we ran into a couple that had been walking on the road and they said it was easier going. So we gave that a go to try and make the summit and it did save some time it seemed like. But we got within a mile and the couple in front of us had turned around and given up. They got to the end of the road and said the trail up to observation tower was very steep and had not been walked on by anyone. So we decided to save the additional mile and call it a job well done. The 7 miles we had back to the car was rough enough.

Overall it was an amazing trip and I got bit by the backpacking bug pretty good. I want to go again with the kids in some decent weather, I want to go by myself and put on some serious miles, it was all just great! The AT portion was nearly religious in how beautiful it was I certainly understand a very small portion of what I have read many around here talk about how their through hike on the AT changed their lives. I was also blown away at the quality of people we met. Some of the best people I have ever met. Maybe it was the terrible weather that brought all us out there together even more, but I dont think so. Everyone was just so cool and nice and all about sharing and helping one another. It was a rude awaking when we finally left the park right into Gatlinburg... This was our "practice" trip for a trip we already have planned to Colorado in July (thankfully my wife will also be on that trip so that will make life a WHOLE lot easier with another adult to do all the stuff the kids cant do yet) so I get to start planning that one now that I know what type of elevation and distances I can get my kids to do without making them miserable. At least I know it can't possibly be worse weather.

But thank you all for all your help even if you didn't know you gave it. I lerked around here a lot to gain a lot of valuable tips - some of them due to the conditions could probably be considered life saving. And learned even more from all the advice I didn't take and wish I had. NOW I get it.

Mountain Mike
03-30-2013, 21:09
Glad you & your children had a great time despite not making your planned goals. When adverse weather hits all you can do is roll with it & make the best of it. Sounds like you did. Good luck on CO trip & from the sounds of it, many future ones.

03-30-2013, 21:17
Great post wonderful memories for you & your daughters.

Capt Nat
03-30-2013, 21:21
Thanks for sharing your story! I am so yearning to see more of the trail. The people out there really are different, as in better, nicer, more wholesome!

Feral Bill
03-30-2013, 22:22
When I was eleven I had a similar trip with my dad and brother. I guarantee your kids won't forget your trip. Good parenting there!.