Thursday, June 5, 2014

Grotto Falls Hike with the Family

Grotto Falls Hike With the Family
Memorial Day Monday May 26, 2014
3 miles round trip
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
Dana "Nanny" Koogler
Crystal, Michael and Tessa
Pictures are here: Grotto Falls Pix

    Crystal and I had planned to take the children and go hiking on Memorial Day Monday.
All the men in the family were out of town so we did our own thing.   Today would be Tessa's first hike ever. She is eight months old and a little thing. She'd be toted in a papoose. 
It would be the longest hike thus far for grandson Michael age five.  I met Crystal at her house.
She lives near me.  We loaded the vehicle up and away we went to the National Park.

        I like hiking to Grotto Falls, but it is one of those that everybody and their brother goes on.
It is nearly always crowded.    We did not get an early start by choice.   We still managed to find parking though it was down the road a bit from the trail head.    We packed diapers, baby food, sippy cup, toys, etc.
All the trappings you take when you take a baby and a preschooler on the trail.   The thing I forgot today
that I had never forgotten before?  The SD card in the camera!  I was lucky in that I still got a few photos and  one video from the day on the camera's internal memory. I also got about half dozen photos from Crystal that she took with her cell phone camera.  It is enough to at least post a trip report that represents the days events.   

       Michael had been so excited about going hiking to a waterfall he had trouble eating much at the house.
We had no more gotten on the trail when he decided he had to eat something.  We stopped and he sat down on a rock and ate half a peanut butter sandwich.  He felt better and off we started again.  We saw lots of people, but at least they were all nice and in a good mood.  It was a family environment which is one redeeming thing about such a heavily traveled trail.  I also find it a little comforting sometimes to have people around.   It is somewhat reassuring.   I had cautioned Michael not to wander off because of bears.  I had given him some instructions about what to expect in the forest.  He did an excellent job of listening the entire time!  We did not see any bears or snakes today and that suited me fine.  

       The Trillium Gap Trail is the one that takes you up one and one half miles to Grotto Falls. It is
uphill the entire way, but the trail has many switchbacks.  It is well graded and that helps a lot.  We
had a little whining along the way about "Are we there yet?" and about being tired.  It was ok. Crystal had
a good point that we needed to do more of it so we'd all get used to it.  She was right.   Today's hike turned out like some others I've taken to Grotto Falls. I would be hiking along and suddenly realize that mile and one half  had flown by and we were there!!  Woo Hoo.  

        Tessa had been funny today. I wondered how she would be? I wondered if she would like hiking?
She DID!  Very much so.  She growled. She flirted. She wanted to carry the trekking pole and did for a good part of the way.   She kept fighting Crystal for control of it!  Finally she had to stop and put Tessa on her back.  Once she was back there it was easier on Crystal to carry her, but she could not reach the hiking
pole any longer.  Michael had sung when I toted him on my back and took him hiking.  He'd sing and throw his pacifier down on the trail.  I'd have to hunt it on the way back.   

Crystal, Michael and Tessa at Grotto Falls

Tessa looks out from her backpack

Michael in front of Grotto Falls

      We arrived at Grotto falls and it was pretty.   It had a decent amount of water coming over it.  
We had trouble getting photos of it without someone in the way.  Loads of people there. Climbing around on rocks.  I persuaded Michael to walk behind the falls. He did not want to do it at first, but
he was finally convinced. He was very proud of himself after he'd made it there and gone behind the waterfall! I was proud of him too.   

      We had to feed Tessa a container of baby food on the trail before we could head back.
She had a dry diaper and we had just gotten her back in her papoose when the rain came!
We got rained on for three or four minutes. It was just enough to cool us off for the hike back.
Tessa's hair was plastered to her little head. She whimpered at first, but then the rain stopped.
She got tickled when she thought about what happened to us and began laughing. She's a very 
good sport to not let it bother her.   We all survived our drenching.  

      The trail was pretty and the air smelled fresh and cool.  The smell of Summer was in the air now.  Green and growing things.  Moisture. Earth.  We saw some pretty mountain laurel blooming 
along the trail.   We made it back to the vehicle without any problems.  We loaded up and 
began our trip back toward Gatlinburg. We planned to eat dinner. Nanny treated everyone to dinner at Calhoun's.  

     We  had fried trout. My favorite!    We all ate too much and enjoyed excellent food and service.
It is such a relaxed atmosphere.  The kids were sweet and funny and well behaved.  They ate well. Michael is the world's best big brother. He loves that sissy.  She hollers Nan na na, Ma ma ma and Bubba! She doesn't have a single tooth yet, but gummed some trout, pretzels in beer cheese, bread and  bits of baked potato!  She was hollering mmmm!  Like Michael used to do.  

What a happy day. I can hardly wait til the next time to go hiking with my family.

     Here is a list of a few family oriented trips that would be fun and easy to do.

  • Mingo Falls
  • Pioneer Farm at Oconaluftee
  • Soco Falls
  • Flat Creek Nature Trail
  • Spruce Flats Falls
  • Lynn Camp Prong
  • Laurel Falls
Below is short video of Grotto Falls and Michael playing

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