The thunderstorms were ferocious over night. We were thankful to be camped six feet into Tennessee because tornadoes were predicted in North Carolina, and we took comfort in nature’s recognition of political boundaries. The kids woke up at two in the morning and counted the seconds between when the lightening lit up the tent like a glow lantern and the thunder crashed. It went from thirty-two seconds, to twelve, to six, to instantaneous; then it finally moved on, and everyone drifted back off to sleep.
We woke to a steady rain, and performed the confined-space choreography necessary to get packed up and cook and eat breakfast without ever emerging from the tarp-tent that sheltered us from the deluge (one of the advantages to our tent design, which sets up on our trekking poles, is that we can remove and pack up the bug-netting insert with the waterproof floor–very helpful in containing our young migratory sleepers–and leave a spacious tarp setup to pack and cook under). We steeled ourselves for a day of walking in the rain, and shortly after eight, we poked our heads out to get a move on. The rain let up just as we emerged, and instead of a day of driving rain, we were treated to a day of rushing waterfalls.
The sky kept threatening to darken, but it never did. Stream after stream had impressive torrents of water pouring over rocks. By the end of the day, we were climbing under the falls for a free shower (the hot water costs extra). Then up the mountain for more inspiring views. The kids really pushed hard because of the promise of a hostel stay, to dry out, warm up and eat a real meal. But the top of the mountain brought a small wooden sign informing us that the hostel was closed; just as the day had been filled with natural waterfalls, it was capped off with waterfalls from Cartwheel’s cheeks when she realized she wasn’t going to get a special meal.
But we changed plans, and pushed on another few miles, and a couple hours later Cartwheel and RobinHood were giggling together in the hammock as they listened to Roald Dahl’s Matilda.
The day was bittersweet. We send much love to all three sets of grandparents (the Kallins, the Briggses, and the HermansGoldman), and we share in Cartwheel’s tears for the special people (a family member and two family friends) who have passed on in the few short weeks we’ve been on the trail.