On Friday afternoon, Brad and I decided it would be fun to take the kids hiking. We shared our wonderful idea with the three L’s (Lindsay, Logan, and Luke), only to find that they did not have quite the enthusiasm we had hoped! So we did the only thing we could do…we loaded them into the car and made the short drive to Crowders Mountain State Park in Kings Mountain, NC. It was a beautiful, sunny winter day. The sky was so blue, the trees so bare, and the wind made its presence known on that mountain.
After a stop inside the Visitor’s Center to get a map, we decided to hike the Pinnacle Trail, which was described on the map as a strenuous, 1.7 mile hike (one way) to Kings Pinnacle at an elevation of 1,705 feet. We’ve done 4 mile hikes with the kids before, so the distance did not concern us. The “strenuous” part did not really bother us either because we’ve hiked mountains and up is up…it’s hard work. We decided to go for the challenge.
Our hike started out very well. In fact, the kids led the way! The boys had already found walking sticks to ward off any bears, so they were quite content. We didn’t get far before we all took our jackets off and tied them around our waists because we were getting hot. We came to an intersection with a trail leading off to the campground areas. Brad thought it would be fun to investigate the primitive campsites, so we all followed him down, stepping over lots of rocks, then up again about .3 miles to the family campsite. This campground is not accessed by vehicle, so all supplies are packed and carried in. Each camp stie was meagerly furnished with a grill, picnic table, and a tent pad. There was no bathhouse, no electricity, and no water. This is definitely not my kind of camping at all! Brad really got excited about the idea of actually camping there. I told him to have fun!
We eventually left the campground and made our way back to the Pinnacle Trail. Up a little further, we came to an area with lots of large rocks that the kids could climb on. One rock even made a very nice arm chair, complete with an ottoman for the feet. The kids enjoyed playing here for a few minutes before we moved on. The next part of the trail was covered in various sized rocks, which made walking over them difficult. Luke tripped a couple of times and banged his knees. I think it was at this point that the word “strenuous” came back into my head!
After the rocks, the trail smoothed out, and evened out for a little distance, but then we found ourselves rounding the mountain on the trail and started going straight up. We began our hike at about 2:45 in the afternoon, and it was nearing 4:00. Brad was getting slightly anxious to get to the top and back down before sunset so we wouldn’t be trapped on the mountain for the night. I thought that was a good idea!
So at this point, we really needed to keep moving. Luke complained that he did not ever want to walk again. He said, “I want to go home and get in my bed and not ever get out again. You can bring my food to me in my bed.” He was holding my hand now, and I thought he was going to pull my shoulder out of socket. I literally had to pull him up parts of this trail. My shoulders hurt, my arms hurt, and Luke started to cry. Then he said, “I am going to die.” Yep, Pinnacle Trail was certainly strenuous! We were so close to the top, and I just kept encouraging him that the view at the top was going to be worth the hike, and that he was so strong and could make it!
Brad waited up for us, then put Luke on his shoulders to carry him the rest of the way to the summit, which by then, was not far at all. We hit the trail’s end at a huge wall of rocks. We climbed up onto the rocks and Logan disappeared on the other side of the wall where I could not see him. The warning signs to stay on the trail because serious injury or death could result from falls echoed through my mind. I yelled for him to come back and wait, and he did. This trail was mentally “strenuous” too!
When we all climbed up and over the rock wall, we were met with a most beautiful view of the North Carolina mountains and surrounding towns. It was so quiet at the top. We were reminded of God’s majesty. The kids were amazed at all we could see. Brad had us on a time schedule now, so we spent about ten minutes at the top, resting, taking pictures, and indulging in snacks.
Then it was time to head back down. Our trip down was much quicker and way easier. We took a different path back to avoid the hazardous rocky area. We passed by a couple of trickling streams and listened for songbirds. Lindsay found a cut tree trunk in the shape of a fancy letter “C.” I took a picture! She and I decided it would be fun to try and collect pictures of every letter of the alphabet as found in nature. This will be an ongoing project for us. So far, we have “C” and “V.” We’re on our way…24 to go!
We made it back to the parking lot a little after 5:00, so Brad breathed a huge sigh of relief! Then we headed home with a tired bunch of children who discovered that Friday hiking can be lots of fun!