Tag Archives: empty nest

Girls Gone Wild…SB2014

Multi day backpacking trip discussions for Spring Break began in February. Freezing temperatures, multiple cold, gray rainy days, snow and ice storms increased the longing for warmer days on the trail. My friend and outdoor junkie, Harriett of She Moves Jewelry,  came up with a plan to head to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Big Creek Loop via Mount Sterling. Despite a trail description that this was one of the more strenuous hikes in the park, it sounded good to me…

DAY ONE: Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Leaving early Sunday morning, while the rest of the world slept, we rolled on to our destination, happily chatting about life, gear, and past and future trips . As we neared the park,  the top of the mountains were dusted with snow. We wondered if we would see any… Checking our weather apps, snow had been forecasted the night before  but the next three days looked warm and sunny.  Perfect.

6.2 miles to go!So it began, once in the parking lot, we loaded, tweaked and adjusted our packs and crossed the bridge to begin our ascent 6.5 miles UP the Baxter Creek Trail toward Mt. Sterling and campsite 38. There are several routes that will take you to the summit of Mt. Sterling; however, the toughest route to the historic fire tower is the Baxter Creek Trail. In fact, the Baxter Creek Trail to Mt. Sterling is one of the toughest day hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains.  The trail climbs roughly 4200 feet in just 6.2 miles. Its important to emphasize our reasoning here. The STRATEGY (a word that should be removed from backpacking vocabulary)was to take on the toughest part of the trail FIRST and CLIMB UP to prevent the pounding our knees would take coming  DOWN such a steep descent.

Silly girls…..

The green mossy beauty so a part of the GSMNP greeted us almost immediately with an early crossing of Baxter Creek. Numerous wildflowers had already braved peeking out of the ground and the trillium were unfolding all around us. We climbed…rewarded early by a view of the layered mountains old as time and serenaded by birds calling back and forth.  Life is good.

TrilliumDSC_0019DSC_0022

About a mile in we saw our first dusting of snow and wondered what would be ahead. We climbed…passing huge rock formations, just soaking in the morning and warming up our legs. More snow…truthfully, I was almost giddy, giggling and laughing at our good fortune to actually get to see snow on the mountain…

As we climbed higher, the temperature began to drop, the wind picked up and the amount of snow significantly increased, slowing our pace. Wet snow blowing and falling all around us glistening in the sunlight. Soooo pretty, deceptively beautiful. Did I mention we were CLIMBING? Downed trees and limbs to cross, along with a combination of frozen slush, deep pockets of snow and increasing incline started a number of thoughts running through my mind. Mileage was impossible to calculate but we had been on the trail around three hours when a trio of wild eyed, very wet, snow covered young people came around the bend with their gear haphazardly hanging off of their packs.DSC_0040

As we later reflected on this meeting, they most likely were in shock and possibly early stages of hypothermia (which can KILL you) . Asking about their night, they told us the winds had reached SEVENTY MILES PER HOUR and that there was TWENTY INCHES of snow on top of the mountain…. We wished them well and continued trudging UP the mountain toward the prize. The top of Mount Sterling. (small voice… “are you insane?!)

DSC_0045DSC_0043

Now we were stepping into the trios footprints, several inches deep into the snow piled high on the sides of the trail. Huge wet masses of snow falling off the trees in the wind began to soak us and our packs.  The trail narrowed by the drifts and nowhere to stop, we continued to plod along , alternately amazed by the beauty of the Christmas card scene surrounding us and seriously wondering how much more snow was on TOP of this mountain, how much longer I was going to be CLIMBING this mountain, how WET my feet were, how COLD my feet were, HOW MUCH snow there really was, how COLD would it get, WHY did I swap my beloved 0 degree Ethel for the 15 degree Lost Ranger because it was lighter and if I was going to DIE (okay, so I am dramatic but those were my thoughts)

Climbing around a fallen tree and sliding on my fanny, we spot an abandoned cotton sleeping bag. The kind that would not keep you warm in your friends basement. (NOTE: If you are going to backpack into the mountains, NEVER carry or wear COTTON. It is not your friend. It will kill you.) Tossed to the side of the trail, we figure the trio had dumped it. Following the drag marks in the snow up we continued into the snow bombs and wind. We will never truly know how far we went up the mountain. We have been hiking five and a half hours so our closest guess was five to five and half miles. All I know is we were grinding down to the slowest pace possible trying to keep our footing in the deepening snow and the frozen footprints and ignore the burning, now exhausted muscles in my legs.

DSC_0041After a particularly deep stretch of snow sinking up to our mid calves we stopped to strategize. Neither of us wanted to call it.  AND neither of us wanted to go DOWN that mountain. We tossed out pros and cons, trying to hang on to common sense and let go of pride, trying to determine how far we had to go, when suddenly a huge mass of snow drift drops off of a rhododendron above us and plops right in the middle of my head. It’s a sign….. So reluctantly and relieved the decision has been made, we turn around and even the though the STRATEGY was to AVOID going down this steep mountain…. DOWN we went.

Slipping, sliding, twisting and of course, falling in the SAME SPOT, making our way back toward the parking lot we go. Neither of us talking, focused on one step, one step, one step until we reach the other world of brown trail, slush turned to mud, mud turned to dirt, stones and sticks and normal trail. And after seven hours of hiking, climbing, clinging, slipping, sliding, sinking and falling we finally stop for a break on a rock in the sun. Did this just happen?DSC_0032

We cross the bridge back to the parking lot near five o’clock, the sun dropping behind the mountains as we crank up the car heater attempting to dry our socks and shoes. The nearest open campground is Smokemont over an hour and a half away so we decide to stealth camp in the campground which was still closed for the season. (don’t judge,  a donation to the GSMNP is already on its way and we left no trace. Desperate times call for desperate measures) After a warm dinner, a cup of hot tea, exhausted, I crawl into my hammock, relieved that I did not die, (grateful that I am not 4200 feet above ground surrounded by 20 inches of snow in 20 degrees), nested by down and fall asleep to the sound of the creek rushing beside me.

Day Two: Redemption, Big Creek Trail and GSMNP Fitness

Advertisements

Spontaneous Spring Break

I love spontaneous happenings! Bummed about missing a Trail Dames trip to South Georgia, luck would have it that our friends, David T and Marlene invited us for a visit to a cabin on the Toccoa River. Beautiful spot, beautiful weather…. The boys wet a hook and caught a hornyhead, we grilled bubba burgers and roasted marshmallows the size of my HEAD and made smores under a crystal clear starry night. After a big breakfast, we headed down 60 to part of section 2 of the Benton MacKay trail. A nice walk to a magnificent suspension bridge over the Toccoa River. There were dozens of huge trees that had been up-rooted during the storms the week before. I was glad not to have been sleeping in a tent at that time! We continued across the bridge. The entire trail was UP after that and we all huffed and puffed to its peak! After tromping back down and following along the river for a bit we headed back across the swinging bridge and had a little snack before heading to our next destination.

Dockery Lake trail is located past Woody Gap on hwy 60 down a dirt road. There is a great campground with 11 sites along a lake stocked with trout and brim and the biggest tadpoles I have ever seen! We hiked around the lake and came to the trail. This trail is 3.7 miles in length and goes to Miller Gap on the Appalachian Trail.
(From here you can go left to Blood Mt and right to Woody Gap.) Immediately we found ourselves beside a beautiful waterfall which I believe is Pigeon Roost Falls, that will soon be hidden when all the leaves are on the trees, walk along the ridge with views of Buck Knob, Pigeon Roost, and Columbia Ridge and cross over a little creek which probable will be a trickle in mid-summer. We passed two backpackers on their way out, a dad and his 6 year old daughter! She was precious, had her backpack and hiking poles. They told us about a couple of great camping spots and went on their way. (I know that is one great dad and she is going to have wonderful memories of those times!)
We continued along the water down into a forest filled with red maple, eastern hemlock, eastern white pine and Fraser magnolia. Wildflowers were popping up along the way combined with moss covered rocks and logs.Lunch was spread over some big boulders on the Pigeon Roost creek and my Boy Scout husband was poking around on the other side and interrupted a big black snake’s nap! After that excitement, we all looked a little more closely crossing logs and rocks!
Alongside the creek were some great spots for a future backpacking trip which we plan on returning for. This was a great day hike. We all agreed this would be a great backpacking journey with lots of room to explore by day on the AT. All in all it was a great weekend with good friends and lots of laughs!

Directions to Dockery Creek:
From Dahlonega, GA take GA Highway 60 north approximately 13 miles to Forest Service Road 654 on the right. Turn right, go 1.0 mile to campground.
From Blairsville, GA take U.S. 19/129 south for 10.0 miles, turn right on GA Highway 180. Go approximately 11.0 miles. Turn left on GA Highway 60, go 4.0 miles to Forest Service Road 654 on the left. Turn left, go 1.0 mile to campground.

These are a few of my my favorite things….

Do you just have those things that you love? That just make you smile or do a little skippy when you see, taste or smell them? I do and thought I would share, (just in case anyone is wondering since Valentines Day is coming…)

 

 
My PhatStrap Camera Strap This one just makes me happy when I look at it! You can choose from lots of fun fabrics and a neat minky liner. (Mine is Esmerelda in Black with Orange Minky)  I loved is that I could order a longer camera strap so I can wear my camera on my hip. Super Comfy and spiffy.

Dolce and Gabana Light Blue I’m not really a fragrance girl, (was a hippie in high school and liked patchouli but kind of outgrew that one) but after getting a whiff of my daughters beautiful friend Malloree, I had to have some for my own. Light, earthy, fresh and just perfect!

Vintage Pearl Jewelry
Not a big jewelry girl either BUT I LOVE these simple little charms and chains. Very romantic and very sentimental,so meaningful. Handmade by a cool mom and very reasonably priced. You really should buy your girl one of these ! 

Starbucks is always good for some inexpensive therapy. (Double good if they write my name on the cup.) Simply inhaling the Starbucks fumes at the drive through is an immediate mood lifter. My husband (who doesn’t even drink coffee) has memorized my very favorite drink order and treats me according to my behavior! Sugar free-nonfat-extra hot-cinnamon dolce latte with one splenda… 18 syllables but it sure is good…

Orbit Bubble Mint Dirty mouth? Seriously this gum makes me happy. It is pink and a little minty and I can blow bubbles that don’t stick to my face. I always have some floating around in the bottom of my bag.

Thomas Donuts on Laguna Beach, Florida
Hands down, the most amazing donuts I have ever eaten and I have eaten my share! (Of course the fact that you eat them at little weather beaten picnic tables looking out at the ocean does not hurt) Thomas Donuts has been in business since 1961. Try the apple fritter, you will want to slap your Mama! (but don’t!) Dad’s favorites are the blueberry, but the key lime and peaches and creme are amazing. Trust me on this, if you go anywhere near the gulf coast send the early bird out to get some donuts!

My Tervis Tumbler 
Okay, as I mentioned in an earlier blog. sometimes it is the simple things. I love my Tervis Tumbler. It travels everywhere I do. It keeps hot things hot, cold things cold and never ever sweats. It also fits into my drink holder very nicely. If you don’t have one, RUN to Bed Bath and Beyond (but first clip a 20% off coupon, they are not cheap) and grab one. You can get them with your favorite team, palm trees or even your initial like mine! As an added bonus you will get to say the words Tervis Tumbler multiple times after you get one.

So these are a few of my favorite things, what are a few of yours?
P.S. I’m not getting a kick back for my promotion, just thought I would share for fun!

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails….

February 4th, 1988 at 7:11pm Tanner Stephen Adams came into the world, captured our hearts and made us parents.

Our first child….. no clue if we were having a boy or a girl. We  prepared and planned for this birth like we were Olympians!  We took Early Bird Class, Nutrition Class, Breastfeeding Class, 6 weeks of Lamaze classes, practiced breathing and packed our bag. I gave up caffeine and junk food. We painted the baby room, put together furniture, listened to advice from family and friends and read every book. and then…..we waited…..and waited….and waited.

 The due date of January 23rd came and went. We walked the mall, the neighborhood, ate at Scallinis and slept under a full moon. TWELVE days later,  February 4th,  Tanner Adams entered the world in reverse!!  A quick labor ended by the discovery that he was breech and delivered by our beloved Dr Espy.    A BOY!     Tanner Stephen Adams. 
Our world was perfect. And just like that, we became a family.
Tanner, active, inquisitive and curious. Loving snakes and frogs,a pet turtle named Taco Henry and a stuffed Elephant named Elly that my mom gave him, (who still sleeps in his room.) He collected Audubon Society books and we were certain he would one day be employed by National Geographic.
Tanner, always funny, smart, charismatic and handsome. Compassionate, loving and loyal. He followed the tradition of the Adams clan as a viral Georgia Tech fan and and excelled in sports like his Dad. He is now a man, finding his way, twenty two…

I still look into those beautiful  brown eyes and catch a glimpse of that amazing little boy turned man and cherish each hug and “I love you mom.”
What a blessing to have a son.Happy Birthday Tanner. I LOVE you!

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice….

February 1st, 1990, 4:02 am,  after 27 hours of labor, a  screaming, pink, redheaded baby girl came into the world. We named her Alyssa Brooke Adams and took her home on her brothers 2nd birthday.  A girl, a daughter, a little sister….

We went from one child to two and pretty much chaos ruled the day in the Adams Casa…..and we loved it. That beautiful hair, big green eyes,  and those Michelin Man thighs.
 Protected by her big brother, Tanner and adored by her parents, Alyssa grew into an entertainer. Always performing, (she and her brothers video taped shows are legend) or creating and always dramatic, there was never a dull moment.  Quirky, funny, adorable, a bit of a daredevil and a Ginger all rolled into one!
I can’t imagine life without my daughter,( although I feared having one.) I feared the battles, the conflict, the “I hate you moments”, the hormones, the boys, the competition…. 
But love conquers all things and these fears lasted only a moment, replaced by joy, love and pride. ( and a healthy dose of humble pie and patience)
My daughter is many things. She is smart, strong and beautiful. But she is also, hilarious, sensitive, compassionate and talented! She has a mature faith and a great sense of fun. She is NEVER LATE, is creative, determined and is someone her friends can count on.      I like her.

I adore laying on her bed listening to her latest news and sharing the trials and triumphs of her life. I would lay down my life for my daughter. So on this day, I celebrate her birth and her life. I thank God for every minute I have with her.
February 1st 2010, 4:02 am, I no longer am the mom of teenagers….
Happy Birthday Lyssie!

Veritas Lux Mea…

or “The Truth is My Light.” is now a permanent fixture on my soon to be 20 year old daughters right foot…… A tattoo…

 Why does this bother me?

 

 

I have been through this with Tanner, my 22 year old who got his first ink in California, 4 years ago. Veritas….Truth….(I sense a theme in this family.)

He followed up with artwork on his chest, a big A with an anchor symbolizing Family, while living in Alabama, added a northern star with a sparrow and more Truth to his side and then expanded a living color rendition of “The Three Kings” onto his shoulder and upper arm.

Again…the essential question is, WHY does this bother me?
My generation, the seventies teens, the free spirits, the creative cool generation did not really get into tattoos. (However, we did grow our hair below our waist, dressed in rags, listened to wild music and occasionally ran nude in the streets.) Tattoos were reserved for men in the service, bikers ….or prison. PERIOD.
Is it this association that troubles me?            Am I just old?

Is it the fact that as I move into my 52nd year of life, I look back and KNOW that anything I would have permanently added to my body in youth would be a fading wrinkled regret now. (The fact is, there is not a single body part that I would particularly want to draw attention to!)

Could it be that I am afraid they will be judged by their tattoo? That they won’t get a job, that their future in-laws will not like them?
Am I the judge? 

Could it be that I am afraid that I will be judged? That if I had been a better mother, my children would not grow up to get tattoos?

Is it that I birthed these beautiful perfect little bodies into the world, and guarded them carefully against any life altering changes to the same little body?


 I was seriously traumatized by the scar Alyssa still carries from flinging herself out of a high flying swing propelled by her shocked father at a campground playground of death onto a sharp rock. And equally troubled by the linear scar on Tanner’s foot from a piece of artwork glass falling on it at his best friends house…

What does it mean, this generation who so readily adds artwork that will last forever. Is it rebellion against parents or society in general? Is it the one thing they can control in this fast moving world? Is it an expression of their thoughts, feelings and creativity?

I don’t have any answers to these questions though I seek them.. I don’t love them any less. I don’t mean this in anyway to be mean spirited and I really am trying not to judge.

I am simply curious……

What Goes Around, Comes Around..(if you are lucky)

Sometimes in life we don’t always get to see fruit from our service. We wonder if what we are doing is making a difference. Then sometimes God just opens up the window and lets you see the details and blesses your socks off.
Today was one of those days.
I had the privilege of leading a group of girls from Sixth Grade Sunday School through their High School graduation. We attended summer “Church Camps” where we lay on what they generously called beds, crawled through the mud, suffered from sleep deprivation, ate every variation of a  hotdog bun you can imagine, jumped off tall objects, laughed until we cried, prayed until we cried,  and worshipped until we cried. We attended events like Dare 2 Share, Revolve, Winter Retreats, Discipleship Now. We had many sleep overs and served together many times through out those years.

I saw them grow from girls with wiggly teeth, through braces, middle school,  learners permits, drivers license’s, boyfriend troubles and Graduation. I loved them.
This morning while driving to work, I hear on the Fish radio station, 6 of my girls. (One being my precious daughter, Alyssa) giving a shout out for the “Soul Sisters,” as they traveled to Day Three of Passion 2010. An amazing conference filled with over TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND kids age 18-25 , spending four days in worship, training and service to the Lord. God just filled my heart with such JOY.
Soo, if you are serving, thinking of serving or have served, look around. You may be blessed in ways you never expected…

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12