Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lessons Learned in the Smokies

059Last week we went camping and hiking in The Smoky Mountains National Park. It is one of our favorite national parks! Here are some observations or lessons that I learned last week.

1. I was glad to see so many families on the trails.

2. Read the information about the trail before you start. It probably isn’t smart to bring a stroller and wear flip flops on a trail that is not paved. Notice other people coming off the trail. If they are wearing hiking boots and caring hiking sticks, it may not be a “walk in the park.”

3. Bring a bottle of water and a small snack no matter how short the hike is. You never know if you will get turned around or your blood sugar will drop.

4. One family had a positive approach to hiking with their young children. One small child was carried in a baby carrier on the dad’s back. The other little girl, about 5 or 6 years old, was encouraged to look around and notice things. I heard the mom offer the little girl some grapes if she needed any. Then she told the child to let them know when she was ready to move on because it was all up to her. The child seemed happy and enjoying herself. This child will probably love the outdoors and hiking.

5. Another family had a negative approach. It involved yelling and threatening the child to keep up and continue walking. The child was crying and just plain miserable. He probably will hate being outdoors and hiking when he grows up.

6. Know the rules in the campground. When we registered for a site, we had to sign a paper to show we understood that all food and anything associated with food should not be left unattended or it needed to be stored in a hard shell vehicle. Failure you to do this results in a $75 fine (not sure for one item or for each). We watched a ranger collect 4 coolers left out at one of the camp sites which I’m sure was a real bummer when the campers returned.

7. Quiet hours should be adhered to when in a campground. There were several large groups that took a few sites so they could camp together. At night, it seems as if sound carries and when people are in a tent or a pop up camper, there is no way to block out sounds of large groups partying. Large groups need to be sensitive to those around them.

8. People with dogs should clean up after their dogs. Nothing is worse than to come back to our site and see that somebody let their dogs deposit a “gift” on our site. If they don’t want the “gift” on their own site, why would they think I want it at mine? I could go on but I’ll stop there!

9. Teach children to keep their distance from all animals no matter the size. I’m glad when we saw the bear and her cub that we had not gotten between the two or it might have been a bad situation.

It is amazing how much I learn by observing people when we travel. Do you do this too?

Original photo by Pat Hensley

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