A little bit of planning, a few adjustments and some teamwork lead us to have a wonderful time hiking on the Appalachian Trail last Saturday morning and afternoon. We planned a meal and a snack, packed plenty of water bottles and took our new camp stove for a test drive. I picked up a couple of Instant, just add water Pad Thai mixes, some camp fuel, and a Pocket Rocket stove (Thanks to the kind folks at Walkabout Outfitter!).
Using one of the LNT principles (Plan Ahead), I split packed our supplies amongst three backpacks to make the packing light, but to also include the kids in the work that must be done to get the gear up on the mountain. We had a great time. Ages 8 and 10 must be the magic age. They complained a little bit along the way (900 feet in elevation change!), but they just kept going. In the picture above, you can see those smiles. They were happy to take a break. My son found this spot. His exact words were, “Come check this out! It’s even awesome-er!” They were very excited to find this tree growing in the middle of the rock.
At the top, we set up the stove and quickly boiled some water for the noodle mixes and hot chocolate. It was so breezy. Wow! But man, what a view! For those of you not local, this is Carvin’s Cove. It is our local water supply for Roanoke. It is also home to the best flat water paddling and exploring around. The kids had never seen the Cove from this angle. They were just captivated. Last year I showed them where I had once stood - same spot seen in the picture, and told them that I was going to take them there. Just when they were talking about not being able to take another step, they caught a glimpse of the water below. Before we took off for some sight seeing, I had the kids help me clean up the leftovers (Dispose of Waste Properly) and redistribute the ground cover that was messed up during our cooking (Leave What You Find).
There was a rush of excitement and wonder that I had not seen in them in many months. They just wanted to keep going. There are rocks to explore that allow you to reach into the wild blue and an amazing number of turkey buzzards flying right over our heads. Now that is an experience to remember.
It took us two hours to get to the top and 38 minutes to get down to the bottom. This even included a water and Valentine’s Day candy break. Gotta eat that stuff up…just to get rid of it, right?
All through our trip, we stopped and discussed the Leave No Trace principles and how we wanted to leave this spot just as magical for the next family who came along. I would definitely recommend that you check out the Leave No Trace website before your next family hike. Reading up on the 7 Principles will really help inform you of best practices in making certain that you don’t leave your mark on the land.
As a family, we have tried very hard to make our “green hours” happen. You can’t get to the scenic views every day. It’s just not possible. We’ll never be LNT masters either. There will always be room for improvement. But this little excursion taught us a lot. Next time, we know that we can pack less, like the instant food packages. Keeping those babies from blowing away was a challenge.
We are just going to keep trying our best and along the way, my kids will see that it is an important thing to do. I am proud of them, my little mountain goats!