Shopping is one of those things that I do only out of necessity. Between Amazon delivering to our doorstep and Walmart Grocery Pick Up, I have been able to drastically reduce how often I visit an actual store.
The idea of Black Friday shopping makes me break into a cold sweat. I know not everyone is like me, but I'm thankful that my family is content to stay home, sleep in, and spend the afternoon together.
You know that our family loves to be outdoors, so if the weather cooperates (and sometimes even if it doesn't), you can find us outside. Holidays are no different.
So this past Black Friday, we opted to Opt Outside.
We made the plan to hike in the Rainbow Wilderness Area and if time permitted, we would take the Cumberland Trail all of the way to Edwards Point. This hike is right at 4 miles round trip, which we knew might be a stretch for Jack. So we hit the trail with an open mind.
Our last visit to Rainbow Lake was in January of 2015. I was 7 months pregnant with Isaac and Jack was three. This visit was a bit different.
Jack started out literally running down the trail. I'm glad he knows how to whistle because we made a game out of whistling back and forth when he got out of sight.
While Jack ran back and forth, Isaac insisted on starting out walking as well. This meant for a slower hike, but he wanted to do it himself, so we let him.
Doing it on his own makes him stronger and reduces the amount of time I have to carry him. Win. Win.
We let him walk until we reached the bluffs and the start of the steepest section of the trail down to the lake. Jack found a crack in the bluffs and excitedly shouted that there was a hole and he could see sunlight above him.
Daniel went to check out the crack and the two of them managed to climb all of the way to the top. Jack was super excited to complete the rock climb. Isaac, meanwhile, tried his best to also climb in the crack.
Then he found a stick and was content to bang around in the dirt with it while we waited for Daniel and Jack to find a trail back down from the bluff.
We spent a decent amount of time at this bluff, so I wasn't sure if we would actually make it to Edwards Point, but we agreed to go down to the lake and the swinging bridge and assess how we all felt.
The lake was really low due to the recent drought. The spillway that normally flows freely with water was completely visible.
Jack enjoyed jumping around on the rocks in the gorge and exploring everything he could.
We found a large rock cairn that someone had built that was taller than Jack!
We crossed the swinging bridge before stopping for a snack. After our snack we explored the spillway and then asked Jack if he wanted to keep going on the trail or head home.
He said we should keep going (even after we explained that we would have to come back the whole way when we were done). He still said to keep going.
We crossed the bridge again and made our way up the next ridge. We made it to Lockhard Arch and pressed on to the top of the ridge, stopping for a water break once we could see Alexian Village and the Tennessee River below.
After our water break Jack wanted to keep going. We had a serious discussion about listening and obeying us because sections of the trail occasionally had steep drop offs to one side.
We also kept an eye on our watches (we didn't want to be stuck on the trail after dark) and stopped for a one last snack break since Jack was getting tired.
We figured we were close to Edwards Point, but were not exactly sure how far. Someone heading the opposite direction told us they thought it was about 10 minutes ahead of us.
Jack was acting pretty tired at this point and we discussed turning around. But right during our discussion another family with kids passed us and suddenly Jack had energy again. He was determined to make it all the way since the other kids were doing it. So we did.
Ten minutes later, we were rewarded with an amazing view of the Tennessee River Gorge with the city of Chattanooga in the distance. Jack collapsed and we fed him more snacks. He really was a trooper though!
Isaac slept for a portion of the hike up to Edwards Point. Thankfully he wasn't too tired and our Deuter Kid Comfort Carrier II made the hike fairly easy.
After snapping some pictures we got back on the trail. We encouraged Jack that this would be his longest hike to date and that he was beating his own record.
Making a record was good motivation for our little trooper. The other family was behind us on the way back and that was also motivation to keep Jack going.
We are so proud of him for finishing the whole hike. We made it back to the car about 30 minutes before sunset and headed straight to Dominos to grab a pizza.
At home Jack declared that it was the best pizza he had ever had. A good hike makes any food taste amazing!
Trail: Cumberland Trail from Rainbow Lake parking lot to Edwards Point
Miles Completed: 4 / Isaac hiked about 0.5 miles (a record for him)
Time on the trail: 4 hours
Completed Rock Climbed (Jack and Daniel): 1