Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t know how in the world you would get out of it? Well, a couple of years ago my family and I had one of those.
My husband and I, along with our older teenage daughter and young son, decided to go on what was supposed to be a fairly short and leisurely hike in Cades Cove. I do not recall the trail name.
We started off at the path, and planned on walking a short distance and turn around. But at each turn in the trial we thought we were coming to the end. We continued on our way until we were far from any recognizable trail. By the time we went another mile or so at a steep incline, I didn’t think I could take another step. There was no end in sight, and I was seriously doubting if we were even headed in the right direction.
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For this supposed short hike, I had one small bottle of water, my partially charged cell phone, and what I thought were my best walking shoes. My daughter and son continued on ahead of us scouting out the trail and keep in contact via text messaging.
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After about 2 hours or so we reached the top of the trail. Here we had 2 choices: Go left or right. We chose left and ended up walking over the mountain to the other side.
A couple more hours go by with no end in sight and I am practically crawling at this time and my husband is limping when our kids text that they heard cars…I got super excited and then maybe 30 minutes later they text that they found the way out. I had never heard sweeter words. Because I just knew we were stuck in the mountains and we would have to hunker down and try to get rest while my husband fought off bears.
Coming out of the woods and finding we had walked 8 miles through and over the mountain and that we were 20 miles from our car, I thought we would die! Luckly a couple that worked and lived in the area drove my son and I to our car, after we explained that walking back over the mountain would not be the best choice considering it was getting dark and we were not experienced hikers. We were exhausted, dirty, scratched up and my shoe broke like 4 miles back. After this experience we have not gone back hiking in Cades Cove, but I sure wish we would. Maybe this time with better provisions and a map!!
So according to the National Park officials, these are some things to consider if going hiking for the day.
How to be prepared for a hike:
- Trail Maps help you prevent becoming lost so it is important to have a map of the Cades Cove trails when coming to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. (Yep didn’t have one of these. )
- When coming to Cades Cove, it is a good idea to let someone know which trail you are taking and when you expect to get back. That way, if you are late, someone will know to notify park officials. (We would have DIED because no one knew where we were that day and we were on vacation!)
- It is important to stay well hydrated when hiking in the Smoky Mountains surrounding Cades Cove. Dayhikers should bring a container of drinking water on all hikes. (I had one partially filled water bottle for 4 people. We would have died!!!)