The day dawned clear and we broke camp with haste as we had dry-camped on a ridge and needed to make our way to water for breakfast. We had enough for a few sips for everyone in the morning, then found a trickling stream where the kids constructed a rhododendron leaf chute to fill our water bottles. We took the opportunity for a long break and cooked oatmeal and tea.
The day brought a dramatic pedestrian suspension bridge, and as the mercury rose we decided to take the hot part of the day off from hiking. A small store, half a mile road walk off the trail, provided welcome burgers and milkshakes, then back to the river for some swimming (and canon balling), before we climbed the next ridge.
There we took a straw vote on whether it was worth another half mile side trail diversion to see “dismal falls.” The waterfall fans won out, and the falls were anything but dismal, providing another great swimming hole for the hot day. We took advantage of the cool evening hours and easy pine-duff covered trail to make up some ground, passing over countless creeks and brooks until we emerged from the woods at a small alpine pond.
The parents began to set up camp while the kids broke out the fishing pole. This led to a fishing frenzy, in which I actually lost count of the number of fish that they pulled in, it was certainly in the double digits. Robin Hood hooked a sunfish, then a bass, then gave Cartwheel some casting instruction. She had a large sunfish strike at her first cast, and her face displayed pure joy as she pulled it in and showed it off (she would catch another one a few minutes later). The kids must have pulled in fifteen to twenty sunfish (thank goodness for the barbless hooks, which dramatically aid the ease of catch-and-release). I had to stop taking pictures so that I could actually set up the tent, but body size suggested at least seven or eight unique fish were fighting for the Royal Wulff every time it hit the water.
The waxing gibbous moon rose higher in the south east and the peepers and tree frogs created quite the cacophony (with some birds joining in the chorus) as the sun sank out of sight in the west. Mama Bear tried out the hammock for the night while dad and the kids shared the tent. A happy Mother’s Day for all.