...people who are not me!
This post is not for those suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder. In other words, it will most likely be long and at times, boring. It may end up being about as long as my "Anniversary Hike" in the Great Smoky Mountains.
It was a day to remember. The weather was beautiful; not too hot at all, and surrounded by trees in Gatlinburg, there was a nice cool breeze as well. I wasn't feeling the best that morning. My hips and post-surgery knee were already aching because of the humidity and impending rain and I had the usual neck pain. But Kris and I found what reviews were calling an "easy" hike to a beautiful waterfall and after throwing back some Ibuprofren, I decided to give it a try.
Let me just say that Kris LOVES hiking. His high school youth group used to take trips to the Smokies and hike for DAYS. They'd stay overnight in bear shelters and all kinds of other crazy nonsense.
Me, on the other hand? I love the beach. I love sitting and doing nothing! It's my favorite way to spend vacation! So hiking is a bit of a challenge for me. Not to mention that I am overweight and out of shape. This NEVER helps ANYTHING! But a 1.3 mile hike to a waterfall on a paved path shouldn't be too hard right? Granted we have to go back the 1.3 miles afterward, but going back is always easier, right?
After about 5 hours, I would find out how wrong that was.
I bet we didn't even get half a mile into the hike before I needed to stop and catch my breath, and rest my legs. I'm a fast walker and so I had to consciously slow down and take my time so I didn't get too worn out too quickly.
Here are a couple of pictures from the trail head:
I'd like to point out that all I really noticed here was that it was 1.3 miles to the Falls. This sign will come back to haunt me later...
The expert hiker, backpack and all
And then there's me...
I will say that we had some really great views on the way to the Falls and at this point I was actually enjoying myself.
And then, all of a sudden we see this sign, for the second time actually. The first time it was at the trail head and a small child was getting her knee bandaged...before she even started hiking!
So being the paranoid drama queen that I am, I kept telling Kris not to fall and I kept envisioning him falling down the side of the steep cliff and dying. Who knew you'd need Xanax for hiking? Not me...or I might have brought some! ;-)
I finally began wondering if we were ever going to make it to the Falls...1.3 miles as it turns out is a lot longer than you think it should be! At least, it was for me.
And then we saw them! We made it to Laurel Falls! It was nice and peaceful, and I would say worth the hike.
We stopped by the Falls and had a little snack and rested our legs. At this point, I was feeling pretty good, and knowing how much Kris enjoys hiking (coupled with the fact that he THOUGHT the "tower" he read about online was only another mile ahead), I told him I wanted to keep going. I thought that if I made it 1.3 miles, I could go another mile. After all, I kept reminding myself coming back is much easier.
After we had been walking for what seemed like forever, we started wondering if we were ever going to get to that elusive tower.
Maybe it's around this bend...
No? Well maybe this one...
I guess not. SURELY IT'S RIGHT AROUND THIS CORNER!!
So many times we considered turning back. But there was this nagging voice that kept saying "If you turn back now you'll regret it. What if you came all this way and turned around right before the end?" We trudged on and were FINALLY rewarded with THIS:
It's a little hard to see, but the bottom line is that by the time we got to this sign, we had hiked 3.1 miles! THREE POINT ONE! And I was FEELING IT. We had to stop numerous times (more than I'd like to admit) so that I could rest. This was NOT an easy hike. In fact I am pretty sure that it is considered moderate to difficult. We had hiked all this way for what? Another sign? Apparently. Eager to have something to celebrate after our hard work, we convinced ourselves that surely if we hiked the other .9 miles to Cove Mountain we would see some wonderful mountain views and it would be worth it. Right? Well...it's me we're talking about so what do you think?
We kept going to the top of Cove Mountain. Expectantly hoping to see some gorgeous views, THIS is what we saw at the 'top' of Cove Mountain.
Another sign? Are you kidding me????
Well, we're feeling pretty disappointed at this point in time. We've seen NOTHING. The best views we had of the mountains were before we ever even got to Laurel Falls. You can only get so many pictures of trees, you know?
Does anyone want to guess what happened next?
We were desperate. We wanted to see something of value. ANYTHING. So, yes, we kept going the additional .1 mile to the "tower". After all, we'd already hiked FOUR miles. What's another .1?
FINALLY. There's a light at the end of the tunnel.
A pollution observation (or something like that) tower...at this point I told Kris that I felt like I was in a BAD episode of LOST. We're in the middle of nowhere, trees all around and then there is this out-of-place, man-made "building". If we could have gotten inside there might have even been a button to push...
Worse still, after climbing two flights of stairs, we couldn't go any farther, so we still didn't get to see any great views
It was at this point, 4.1 miles later, we decided to head back. It had taken us 4 hours to get here. Given that it's ALWAYS quicker going back, it should only take us about 2 hours to get back right? Oh how wrong we were. It seemed to take FOREVER just getting back the .1 mile to the last sign. I knew then that this was going to be a difficult journey. My knees were hurting from having to balance myself and my weight and walk down the rugged path. By the time we made it back to the sign indicating Laurel Falls was 1.8 miles, my hands and feet were swollen and aching. Blisters were beginning to form on the bottoms of my big toes. My hips were regretting bearing four children. I was cursing the fact that I married a man who loves hiking. OK, I wasn't really on that last point. I wasn't thinking about him at all. All I could think about was how miserable I was. But we kept going, because what other choice did we have?
We FINALLY made it back to the Falls and just rested for a while. I wanted nothing more at this point than to pull my shoes and socks off and dip my aching feet into the water. But Kris and I were concerned that if I did that, I'd have no motivation or ability really to get back to the van. After all, we still had another 1.3 miles to hike in order to get back to the van. The last mile back was the most difficult by far. I was drained. Physically, mentally and emotionally. So many times I just wanted to quit. To just sit down and cry. Instead I walked and fought back tears...and then (after almost 8 hours of hiking) we saw the end of the trail. And the van. If I could have run, I would have! The moment I sat down in the van I took my shoes and socks off, letting my feet breathe. I discovered long blisters on both big toes and a place where a stick or something had cut my ankle. All in all though, we were safe and back in more comfortable surroundings. We made our way back to the resort where I found myself increasingly thankful for the whirlpool tub in our room! After a relaxing soak, I managed to hobble to the couch, which I didn't move from for about 4 hours.
Almost 2 1/2 full days later, my legs and hips STILL hurt. I'm practically limping when I first get up from sitting for any length of time. Today it has been much better than it was but my muscles are still stiff and tight and in pain!
I do have good news though. It was all worth it in the end. Why? Because we compromised and Kris bought the much more affordable HTC Hero! Check it out!!
There will be much more to come on this phone. It is amazing and I have several things I will be showing you. Not because I got the phone free. Not because anyone is giving me anything. But because I LOVE this phone!! Android is incredible! OK...I'd better stop before this blog post doubles in length.