The day offered blue skies and cool breezes. We packed a lunch and drove up to the Lake Guntersville State Park. Growing up, I spent many hours at the lodge. In my teen years, I spent many hours hiking the trails. Now it was time to begin sharing the wonders with my children.
Trail hiking can be tough, but it does not have to be out of the grasp of someone (like me) who hasn’t taken the time to stay in the shape that she desires. We chose a path that had been marked easy and that offered a long hike, but not impossible for the beginner.
Finding parking proved to be one of the greatest challenges. We have learned to adapt over the years because parking a suburban under any conditions often proves challenging. My husband made it work and we unloaded. I left behind my water because it was a short hike and we would be back in no time (spoiler alert: they tell the boys to “always be prepared” for a reason).
The leaves were turning and provided a colorful backdrop for the pictures. The cool weather offered comfort that our colorful but slithering friends would be safely tucked into hibernation. We walked along, enjoying the sites and each other.
The trailed curved around and the view opened up to the lake. It offered another great opportunity for pictures, but showed no signs of turning back onto itself to get us back to the truck.
We kept walking and I envied the soda peeking out of my husband’s pocket.
The path finally stopped at a small creek and waterfall. It took all we could manage to keep the youngest from jumping in. “I’m hot. I’m tired. I’m thirsty.” You should have heard his complaints – those were just what I was thinking.
A quick look at my watch (better known as the phone) and I knew that we would never get back to the car on schedule. It was taking twice as long for us to meander along the path. I also realized that there was no continuing path and to get back we would just have to follow the same path again. I eyed the hill we had walked around and wondered if we could just walk over it, but my family had already started back down the path.
The youngest threatened to boycott and just sit on the side of the trail. I considered joining him, but wondered how the others would get the suburban down that tiny path to come and get us. It took some encouraging (of myself) to begin encouraging my youngest, but we managed to get going once again.
The path back to the car was not as colorful and the views were not as amazing – although they were the same. I thought of little more than something to drink. My saving grace was the counting. I counted each step we took back out to try and determine where we had gone wrong.
We survived and back at the car I started to rehydrate while studying the map. Although the posted trip was 2.5 miles on the website, the printed map had a notation that showed the trail was not a loop. What started out as a short hike became twice as long because of the return trip.
What I learned from Hiking in Lake Guntersville State Park
- ALWAYS carry the daypack. I fill mine with the hiking first aid kit, water, and snacks most days.
- Measure twice so you don’t have to hike twice. It turns out that everything you read on the internet is not always true – or not always the whole truth. A little more research and we could have been better prepared for what we were going to be doing.
- Avoid trying to do too much. This seems to be the “rule of thumb” for all family outings. We were trying to get in a hike before we had to be at another event. The need to rush back to the car caused stress, exhaustion, and irritability (and that is never something the family wants in the mom).
- It is worth the effort. Despite the issues we encountered, the memories and the pictures were worth every step!
Take advantage of the cool, fall or spring days and enjoy a hike. Be sure to pack a day-pack to carry along with you, and include a map in your pack. Take the family and have some fun exploring the beauty in your own backyard.
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What have you learned from you adventures or misadventures with the family? Share your tips here in the comment section or link to your own post about the activities you have enjoyed with the family. You can also connect with the #TraveLangs on Facebook.