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This is the second day of our New Hampshire Appalachian Trail section hike a couple of weeks ago.  It turned out to be one of the most challenging hikes of the trip and probably the most difficult hike we’ve done.  At the same time, all of the boulder hopping is fun and the views are magnificent!

I was watching videos of thru-hikers going through this area, and they climb up it like mountain goats!  Lol I guess that’s what 1500 miles of conditioning up and down mountains does for you! Lol. (The northbound AT thru hikers started in Goergia and have done approx. 1500 miles at this point!). Some day it might be fun for my husband and I to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail as well, but we have to wait until he is at a point where he can take a break from work.  But for now we get to do these sections hikes with my Dad, and these have been the highlights of our hiking trips each year. Definitely the most challenging and most rewarding!

Join us on day 2’s hike in the video below, and I’ll get day 3 edited soon!

Happy 4th!

We just celebrated my and my husbands birthdays and the Fourth of July all in one!  There were cupcake works of art, swimming, and blowing things up!  (fireworks, that is). Great time was had by all!  Lol. Please join us in the celebration in this quick video.  And this Fourth of July just reminds me of how thankful I am to live in this country!

We have been preparing all year to do our big hike this year on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in New Hampshire. My Dad, who is 70, has been hiking sections of the AT for eleven years now, and he has competed about 3/4 of the over 2000 miles of the AT during that time, from Georgia to where we are now in New hampshire.  The trail ends  in Maine.

So we had been preparing all year for this big hike and just completed our New Hampshire section last week.  The trail looks innocently tame on the map.  We only needed to hike 5 miles the first day there.  We’ve done more than that before.  Sure we have to climb 2000 feet in five miles, but we’ve climbed 1000 feet before and rarely 2000 in one day.  But in addition to that, what the map does not show is the ROCKS!  And very steep ascents and decents.  And of course the map just cannot give you the firsthand experience of actually climbing a steep, rocky, boulder-covered mountain!

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After our first two days of ascending and descending Kinsman Mountain, we had wondered what we’d gotten ourselves into.  Would we even be able to finish the section we had planned to do, 50 miles in eight days?  Would we break one of our bones tripping over boulders, climbing down the steep paths?  Would we die from exhaustion??

Below are videos of the first day climbing Kinsman.  I also have videos of our previous hikes and preparation leading up to the AT if you’re interested on my YouTube channel. I’ve only gotten up to editing these videos so far, but will post more soon.  Hope you enjoy hiking along with us!

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We finished the northern section of the 25ish mile Red Leaves Trail at the Natchez Trace State Park in Tennessee on New Years Day.  It was a cold but beautiful day.  Click the link to my Facebook page to see pics and a description of the trip.  There is not a lot of info out there about this park, so let me know if you have any questions about it.

This is one of the few parks in western Tennessee that has longer distance backpacking trails with shelters. And while maps and trail markings could still be improved, they have recently completed a lot of upgrades to the trails, such as signs, trail markers, new bridges and shelters that have improved these trails quite a bit.  Hope you can check it out for yourself sometime!

 

We left Sunday after church to hike the loop trail around Cub Creek Lake at Natchez Trace State Park. The park is only 1 1/2 hours from our home in the Memphis area east on I-40, so it’s a pretty quick drive.  This trail is part of a longer trail called the Red Leaves backpacking trail that is approximately 26 miles long and contains 3 back-country shelters at which you can camp.  This should be enough to keep us busy for a while!

We were surprised to find out that for now the park office is open 7 days a week till 4:30.  Most of the Tennessee state parks offices close on weekends and evenings, which seems like the very time they would be needed, when people come and visit the park and camp!  I guess it’s due to lack of funding.  But apparently they have funding for now to be open on the weekends.  There was also a lot of recent work done on new trail bridges, shelters and trail signs as well, which maybe also come from new funding.

So we first first headed to the park office to get the free trail map, which showed us where the back-country shelters were.  There was also a nicer color map available for donation that I also found on the internet.  This map was easier to read, and showed all the back roads in addition to the trails, but did not show the shelters.  I’m not sure why they can’t put both on one map.  But anyway, at least they have them available on some map.  We registered to camp in the back-country with the man in the office, who was very friendly and helpful.  Then we headed off on our adventure!

We didn’t have much time to hike, so we decided to do a small portion of the Red Leaves Trail, hiking it from the park office until it joins with the Cub Creek Trail, and starting by following it around the southern end of Cub Creek lake.  On this end the trail continues for a while, but eventually ends briefly.  From there, you  follow the lake edge, walking past the Recreation Building and the Picnic shelter to the double bridges on the southeast end of the lake.  Then you pass through the cabin area, which was somewhat tricky.  We just ended up walking up the stairs from the lake, turning left onto the road, and then noticed the orange trail marker along the road which marks the Cub Creek Trail.  It had us turn left down the driveway of a cabin, which we felt a little funny about because a large group of people were grilling in the front yard of this cabin!  There were several markers down this driveway, which led us to the right into the woods and back to the Cub Creek Trail at the end of the cabin driveway.  We followed the trail around the east end of the lake to just before the levee.

We were told by the man in the office to look for a side trail to the shelter.   In fact, we did see an approximately three foot high post with a very prominent white marker that marks the Red Leaves Trail, and a trail leading off away from the main trail.  There was also a big nail but no sign attached.  So we assumed this could possibly be the side trail to the shelter.  My husband followed it for a bit and found the shelter.  It was just a tenth of a mile or two off the main trail, but you have to keep a lookout for that little post, just south of the levee.

We were very pleasantly surprised to see an almost brand-new shelter that had been build by Boy Scouts recently.  It was very clean. It had four bunks, two on each side of the shelter and a nice big porch roof overhang at the front.  There was an opening in the eves at the back of the shelter that nicely let in a lot of light, but could be a problem in a storm.  You may need a tarp to prevent water coming in that way.

We hung our two hammocks from the porch posts, and since it was cool, the fire my husband made in the fire-pit felt wonderful.  There were also lots of nice areas for tent camping here.  It was a really pretty site.  The temperature was also cool this weekend, so no bugs!  No mosquitoes, no ticks.  And we hope no chiggers.  We won’t find that out for a couple of days, whether we got them or not.

We had to be back home by midday the next day, so we had planned this hike to have done the longer southern portion (we’re guessing 3 1/2 miles) around the lake the first day, and then we only had 2 1/2 miles to finish up in the morning.  We made good time and enjoyed the northern end of the lake hike.  Back at our car at the park office, we noticed a rehabilitating owl in an enclosure who was quite cute, blinking at us randomly with different eyes.  We headed home and were glad we had another quick hiking getaway!  Hope you enjoy the pictures and that you can get out and hike it soon!  Happy Trails!

Last weekend we did an overnight hiking trip to Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park.  It was the first cool(er) weekend in western Tennessee, and it was absolutely beautiful!

This park has connecting loops of trails that can form a 3, 5, 10 or 20 mile hike, which consist mainly of old farm roads, which are now surrounded by woods.  This makes for nice wide walking trails, and piques the curiosity about what life must have been like there when there were farms, houses, old, now condemned camp buildings, and left-behind fruit trees on ridge tops that still dropped their fruit for us, such as grapes, apples and (we think) persimmons or plums.

This park is on the west side of the Tennessee River, north of Interstate 40.  The trail starts from the highest point in West Tennessee at the Interpretive Center, which is quite a climb in itself to get to by car.  There is a hiker’s parking lot to the right just before you get to the interpretive center, and the trail begins behind the center.

Make sure you register at the park office near the entrance first and get a nice color-coded trail map.  The employees are very friendly and helpful. They were to close at 4:30, just as we arrived. But when they saw us, very kindly opened back up to register us and give us information.

The first night we hiked about 2 1/2 miles to the shelter on the 5 mile loop.  I think it is the prettiest camping area.  It’s quite a steep climb  straight up the hill to the top of the ridge.

There is water available shortly after the beginning of the hike on the 3 mile loop and just before the last steep climb to the shelter.  It would be good to stock up then, because the water we saw on the rest of our hike was not very great.  The water before this point was found in the most beautiful clear rocky and sandy streams, which we treated with our Aquamira to make it drinkable.

We hung our hammocks, and made a nice fire because it was very chilly, getting down into the 40s that night.  We had our Mountain House white chicken chili for dinner, very good and spicy!  And granola and hot coffee for breakfast.  We took our time that morning, enjoying our site & warming up.

After packing up, we had intended to finish the 10 mile trail that day, but instead chose to take a shortcut. As we came to the east side of the 10 mile loop (close to the river), it then turned to the west, away from the river, and we never got a good look.  The map, however, showed an old road turning to the right, connecting east side of the 10 mile loop to the 20 mile loop.  So we chose to go that way, hoping to see the river and some old camp buildings I had read about on the Internet.

We weren’t sure if this was a good idea or not, if the road would peter out. But it did not.  It led to the Tennessee River and gave us a nice view, and then turned north to connect with the 20 mile trail, which thankfully has a sign at the junction, making it clear when we had reached it. We were surprised to find on this old connector road that was not officially a trail, actually still had pavement on it, way out here in the middle of nowhere in the woods!

So we turned left on the 20 mile loop, which promptly headed around the base of a ridge and then straight up to the top!  And much to our pleasure, just to our right turned out to be the location of the old camp I had seen pictures of, on a very high cliff overlooking the River.  The old buildings, though condemned, were very cool to look at, and walking past the main bulding, there was a wonderful view from the top of the ridge of the river.

So from there we went back to the 20 mile trail and followed the trail/old road that went up and down ridge tops. It was very cool and always had wonderful scenery & sometimes views from the tops.

Apparently September is fruit collecting month, because we found wild grapes on the ground, which we were told were Muscadines. On the next hill we found what we thought were plums, but someone else told us they were persimmons. We aren’t sure which. But they were both sweet and a little different, but very interesting!  We also found some green apples, which were not very sweet.

We followed the 20 mile trail to the west to the 20 mile shelter and stopped to have our lunch.  This campspot had a clearing, but it had a lot of tall grass and was not as nice as the first shelter/camping area.

From there we turned left (South) to follow the trail that connected all the loops and headed back to the Interpretive Center.  The whole trail was old roads and was very beautiful. It was easy to walk next to my husband and talk.  And it was just very pretty and interesting. Of course the 70 degree weather didn’t hurt!

Finally we made it back to our car, noticing many other side trails along the way that we would love to come back & hike.

Overall it was a wonderful overnight trip, and we were very pleased.  I don’t think we saw another single person out on these trails! We had the trails & campsite all to ourselves!  We will definitely be going back, and I hope you can make it there!

My daughter has started a blog! Read more at her site, The Surrendered Girl .

The Surrendered Girl

In March of 2015, I went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The mission trip was truly a life changing experience.

It was my first time out the country and my first mission trip. I was in Honduras for about a week with a group of 9 other girls. We traveled and working alongside the organization Point of Impact. The first few days, we worked in the children programs. After that we spent a lot of time with a group of 16 precious children who were part of the girl’s and boy’s homes. All of them were orphans at one time and had been taken into the homes. Some of their stories are heartbreaking; however every one of them is now full of life and joy! It is truly amazing to see the work that God is doing in their lives.

I went on the trip expecting that it would be an easy…

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