Posts Tagged ‘Hiking’




Over the years, I’ve accumulated a small collection of ‘Hiking (fill in the state) with Kids’ guidebooks.  I pulled this one from my shelves again because I thought the gentler kids’ hikes would be good for the recuperative process I’m going through since breaking my leg badly just after Christmas.

Last year we day-hiked around Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  (You can read more about it here, and hereabouts.)   This year we’re staying closer to home.

If you’d like to read my “review” of the book, it’s here.  One of my favorite features is the month-by-month rundown of hiking conditions in the state.  I come from the West, and hiking is different there than in the Middle South.  For instance, I never thought about checking the weather forecast for tornadoes.  Getting local information to augment the generalities of hiking how-to makes for a much more pleasant experience. This is true whether or not you are hiking with children.

I’m putting in a plug here for these types of books.  They are a great resource if you have children or grandchildren, or you are recovering from an injury, just getting started hiking, or simply looking for more easier hikes.  They are available for many states (perhaps all, though I could not attest to that) and are easily found, in my experience, in the local interest sections of bookstores.  Pick them up for dayhikes or camping trips close to home, or check them out for a fresh air break from driving, side trip, or destination when you are traveling farther afield.

Almost forgot: Here’s a link to Hike Arkansas, website by Tim Ernst, co-author of this book, well-known nature photographer and outdoor guidebook guru.


If you visited my blog earlier this month, you may have noticed that I spent some time in the Smokies with my husband hiking and taking pictures.  It was wonderful.  I thought I’d share just a few of the 700+ pictures he took.

copyright Cleeo W Wright

Star Chickweed

Day 1:  We found this Star Chickweed on the side of the road.  We spent an hour shooting along the 20 yards of hillside.  Great Smoky Mountain National Park has over 1500 species of flowering plants and is also known as “Wildflower National Park.”   Each year they sponsor the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage.  The 63rd annual event begins tomorrow, if you happen to be in the area.

copyright Cleeo W Wright

Grotto Falls

Day 2:  …the very end of day 2, to be exact.  We reached the trailhead just before sunset.  I sent my husband on ahead and he practically ran up the 1.5-mile trail to catch the light.  By the time I got there, the sun had gone down, and we had to hike back in the gathering dark.  My headlight was on before we hit the bottom.  The bear-clawed trees and heavy brush (mountain laurels, etc.) I noted on the way up was none to comforting on the way down.  We made it safely back, however, and while we didn’t see any salamanders (Grotto Falls is a hotspot for the little amphibians), we did get some interesting shots of the landscape.

copyright Cleeo W Wright

Sunrise at Clingman’s Dome

Day 3:  On our last day we watched the sunrise at Clingman’s Dome.  It is the highest point in the Park and in the state of Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi.  It also marks the highest point along the Maine-Georgia Appalachian Trail.  We didn’t trek the .5 miles to the summit, opting to shoot from the parking lot instead.  I don’t know what the view would have been like from the observation tower, but it’s hard to believe it could have been better than what we had.  I posted another shot of the sunrise on “L” day of the A to Z Challenge, but I like this one better.

April is a fabulous time to visit GSMNP.  Perhaps this sneak peek whets your appetite for adventure and discovery in the outdoors of Tennessee and North Carolina.

Up, out, and on the trail before dawn.  Nope, I’m not driving dogies; I’m hiking with my photog husband.  This morning was especially nice…for taking pictures.  It was cloudy, with a fine misty rain.  “Photo hiking” is very stop and go.  We trek for a bit, then stop for as long as it takes to get the pictures.  Today we spent 5.5 hours covering 4+ miles.  Over the last few days, and especially today, I have fallen in love with some of my hiking equipment.


Before embarking on this trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I invested in a daypack.  A Camelbak, to be precise.  The big selling points of this pack were the reservoir (although I realize that other brands have reservoirs as well) and the great fit.  It’s a women’s pack, so it’s the perfect length for me, and the weight distribution is heavenly.  I’m always amazed at how heavy the pack is when I take it off, because I can haul it around for hours and it feels like nothing.  I was able to carry rain gear, notebooks and pens, guidebooks, breakfast, my hiking pole, full-size binoculars, a camp stool, and more, easily.  I love my Camelbak.


I wouldn’t normally pay this much for a hat.  I’m cheap, I admit it!  I must have been so burned out on shopping–not my favorite thing–that the price escaped my notice, and I’m kind of glad it did because I love The North Face’s Hyvent Hiker Hat.  Comfortable, crushable, adjustable, and you can put the brim sides up.  It even has a chin strap for people like me who are afraid their hat will blow away in an unexpected gust.  Hey, I live in tornado country.  This can be a real concern.


GSMNP gets a lot of rain.  In preparation for this, I bought a pair of rain pants.  Admittedly, I haven’t used a lot of rain gear and have not done much comparison shopping, but these were reasonably priced and worked well.  It was nice not to have to worry about sitting on a wet log or slipping in a puddle even after the rain had passed.  As you can see by the mud on them, they served me well.  These are Toadz by FroggToggs.  How could you not trust a name like that?


I’m throwing in some non-clothing gear here that I came to feel kissy toward today: my lightweight Trail Stool from REI and my (husband’s) Black Diamond hiking pole.  I don’t actually have a pic of the pole because I left it in the car, and after 8 hours hiking around GSMNP, I’m just going to sit here and be lazy for a few minutes, okay?  Neither the stool nor the pole were essential, I suppose, but both came in handy, and I was glad I had them.


I’ve not done a whole lot of hiking over the years, and what I have done was fairly light, so I’ve never bought hiking socks.  I knew I’d be doing a lot of hiking over a very few days on this trip, and I decided to invest in something appropriate for the occasion–Fox River Merino Hikers.  Another revelation from this trip!  I actually bought another pair of Merino wool socks, but they were not hikers and therefore did not have the extra padding on the sole.  What a difference!  I love these socks so much I’d kiss them…if they hadn’t been so recently on my feet inside my boots.  And speaking of boots…


I can’t do a post on hiking equipment without sharing The Essential item!  These are my Merrell Moab Ventilators.  I’ve had them for a couple of months, bought them when my old boots wore out.  I love them.  The only drawback is that they are not waterproof.  But, since most of my hiking is not done in wet conditions, I thought the ventilation would be more important.  The damp/wet conditions on this trip have not been a problem, so I think for overall use, I made the right decision.  I plan on wearing these out much faster than my old Raichles.

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a look at some of my favorite hiking equipment.  I’ve had my little midday rest. Now it’s time to get geared up and head out to catch the late afternoon/evening light.  Happy Hiking!