REI

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Journal Entry - 1st ever entry and prep for TN trip

I have decided to start doing a journal entry at least once a week to give our followers a more in-depth look into our lives and our many adventures. Just as a forewarning I am not a professional writer, so I apologize for any misspelled words that auto correct doesn't catch or run on sentences. I know there are some English Major followers that will probably be correcting my entries on a regular basis. So please excuse all the mistakes, lol. 

Currently, we have just been making posts and videos about our many hiking adventures in what we like to call "our backyard", but it's actually all across Central Florida. I always think it sounds crazy to say, "Hey, I hike in Central Florida". To an outsider, Central Florida is a place for Disney, Universal, lots of tourist traps and just lots of buildings. They probably think, "hiking, but here's no mountains or even hills." But, in actuality, it's full of many hikes hidden in the hustle and bustle of these cities. We live about 15 minutes outside of Orlando, in a suburb called Longwood. It's a busy city like setting but contains many hiking trails. Some of our favorites are located in Wekiwa Springs State Park. We have many blog entries about our day hikes to this location. They have trails as small as 0.5 miles and lead up to almost 20 miles!!! It will be years before we can manage to hit them all, and it's within 10 minutes from our home. Just a perfect place to go no matter what time of the year. 

Lately, we have been prepping for our first major hiking trip. We are going to Gatlinburg, TN. I am really excited, my husband and I went here the first year we were together and did our very first hike ever to Laurel Falls. 
Laurel Falls (Feb 2010)
Funny story about this picture above, this was our first Winter Trip together. I had only seen snow one time before and was so excited to learn to snowboard (which I now know I'm terrible at, lol). We got to TN and the first thing I said is that I wanted to go hike to a waterfall. It was a mix of snow and rain that day, temperature only in the 30's, and most of the roads up the mountain were closed for ice. We went to the ranger station and asked where to go to see a waterfall. The Ranger looked like he was going to laugh until he saw I was dead serious. The only waterfall trail open that day was Laurel Falls, and he informed us that if any more snow fell or if the roads became icier they'd close it down. So we hurried to the trailhead and started up the path. I learned really quickly that I was wearing the wrong shoes (Ugg Boots), and my pants were definitely not made for hiking. The entire way up it was raining off and on. We got about halfway up and I almost turned around but then decided to just keep going. When we finally made it to the falls we were cold, wet, but completely in awe how amazing they were. We luckily ran into two other very wet and cold hikers (though they were more prepared than us) and had them take this picture. 

On our upcoming trip, we plan on returning to see this waterfall, only this time we are taking our daughter and my mom with us. It'll be a very happy and emotional experience. 

Now that we are about to leave on this week long trip of day hikes throughout the Smokey Mountains  I'm getting more and more excited about all wonders in nature we will see. But, with that comes lots and lots of packing! First off it's a 10-12 hour drive (without stops) from where we are in FL to Gatlinburg, TN. So, I'm planning on it taking 14 hours just in case we have to stop for more than a few minutes. Being that our daughter is freshly one-year-old I am not sure how she's gonna handle the long ride, but we will give it a go! I've got a portable DVD player with her favorite shows on DVD (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Bubble Guppies), and either myself or daddy will be in the backseat to keep her company. But, back to the packing, lol. I have had tubs all over my floors for the past week slowly packing everything we will need. Getting the food together (both for my daughter and us), bathroom supplies, clothes, hiking gear, toys, and more. We ordered a new hiking backpack with a 2-liter bladder in it (I'll review it later to let you know how well it works). I'm really excited to have this addition to our hiking gear. We already have the baby carrier, but it'll be nice to even up the weight between the two. We also ordered a trail guide book for the Smokey Mountains (I'll review this as well at a later time). I think we have everything we need, but we shall see once we get up there and get on the trails. Now, we are NOT camping, that's something I'm not comfortable with doing while my daughter is so little. I give props to all the other moms that are able to, but my anxiety would be thru the roof. So, we are renting a cabin right in the heart of the Smokey Mountains so we are super close to most of the trail heads. Our longest hike will be 8 miles (eeekkk, kinda scared and excited) and our shortest is only 1 mile. Most days we will be doing two hikes, well that's the plan anyway. I know that this will be totally different than our Florida hiking trips. The terrain will be much different with the elevation changes and the rocks, but it will definitely not be as hot and the humidity won't be as bad. That is going to be a huge relief. 

Well, that's all I have time for today. My daughter is having a scream fest so it's back to my #1 job, being a mom! Until next time, Keep on Hiking!