Yesterday I had the pleasure of hiking in the Smokies with 9 women!
We started out by using my favorite shortcut through Metcalf Bottoms to get to the Sugarland Visitor’s Center where the Girls Scouts had the unique pleasure of speaking with Toni, the oldest Ranger in the park. Toni’s grandmother raising 13 children by herself owned acreage across the street from where the Visitor’s Center now sits and sold the land to the government for $11 an acre then turned to servantship for the rich women of Pigeon Forge. She spoke to the girls of “Leave No Trace” and took questions. It was quite a treat for the girls (although they may not appreciate it for years to come) and I’ve never heard them so quiet. I followed Toni’s talk with a quote from the forward of Caves of Tennessee
Take nothing but pictures;
Leave nothing but footprints;
[Waste]* nothing but time.
*I remembered the quote wrong. “Waste” should have been “Kill”.
I could have listened to Toni for hours!
We started our hikes at the Sugarland Nature Trail which is a paved path slightly less than a mile long and circular. The book Great Smoky Mountains National Park Scavenger Hike Adventures and Mountain Journal by Kat LaFevre and John LaFevre kept the “I’m bored”s at bay and encouraged the girls to move along the trail.
We had lunch at Noah Ogle‘s house.(see picture and see some of the hike). The amount of vandalism was depressing. Please don’t write or carve on historic structures! Your damage cannot be undone! We hiked the more rugged 1.2 kilometer trail. The girls were so noisy that I believe all the wildlife in the Smokies quite possibly ran to the Rockies. In trying to keep the group together and help them be observant of the nature around them, I was just as loud or louder than the girls. As if to prove a point to them, a deer showed up on the trail. After that the girls were very quiet! We also saw fresh, what we thought to be, bear cub prints in the mud. This makes me think perhaps it was a fox.
A great time was had by all! Of course, we ended our day at Little Rivers for ice cream.