Day 259 – 5/17/21 Grotto Falls

We had a great hike to Grotto Falls today.

I guess the mornings are warming up, it was 54F today :). I still had a space heater on after I woke up, just to be comfortable in my shorts and no t-shirt. Hahaha.

Everyone had a busy morning today here.  I got my writing done, caught up on emails and then went for a run.  There’s a path near here by a river, that I had seen on the map, so I went that direction and started running there.  About a mile and a half in, I arrived at the parking lot for The Island, which we were in a few days ago for pizza.  I guess we are pretty close to that area.  My run was nice, it was easy, which was good because I needed it after so many days of driving and not eating great.  The path along the river is very nice and pretty, I got lots of pictures.  Once I got to The Island parking lot, I ran around there to make up the rest of the running time I wanted and went back.  When I got back, I reviewed a lot of contracts and agreements from clients, then took a shower before lunch.

Bella and Bia were up a bit earlier and were on their phones until 8:30, then I had them stop and start getting ready for school.  Bia had to continue practicing for her presentation, and they both had to have breakfast yet.  Once they got going with school, they did really good.  Bella was done with everything before lunch, and Bia was on her way to being done too, she only had her presentation around lunch time.  Bia got her little corner all ready for her presentation, with pictures of WY maps, books about Buffalo, post cards about Yellowstone, etc. but she ended up not presenting today and will likely present tomorrow.  I made sure to catch her right away and position this as a positive and that she has even more time to make her presentation better, and she was happy with that.

Carol did laundry most of the morning, and also worked on lunch.  She made rice and beans for lunch, and seasoned chicken for me to grill.  When she had all the laundry washed, I took it to the campground laundry to get dried while she finished lunch.  When we were all done with school, lunch, laundry, etc we hung out outside for a while and just enjoyed some time together.  The girls wanted a bit of phone time and Carol and I had some beers.  Then we decided it was time to leave to our only event of the day, a hike to Grotto’s falls, which is in the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail at the Smoky Mountains National Park.

We left around 3pm I think, and to get to the trail we have to go through downtown Gatlinburg, then get to the Roaring Fork Trail road, and eventually once in there we hit the Grotto Falls trail.  It took us a good 30 minutes or so to get there.  As we approached the area, I knew parking would be tough, so we were in the lookout for options.  There was a spot before the restrooms, kind of on the side and by the hill, but I decided to not park there and hoped we’d find one soon.  Nope, the parking area was completely full.  It is a small parking area, with maybe 10-15 spots, but as you pass it, there were more spots on the side, which were all full.  We were driving slow and kept going until I saw a spot I could fit the truck in, right by the trees.  There were two big rocks there and the ditch, but I could clear it with the truck, so I got in there.  At one point, I had the truck on two wheels only as the front passenger and rear driver wheels were touching the ground, the other ones were not.  We made it in though, put on our hiking shoes and got going.  Our first stop was to the restrooms.  Those were the stinkiest restrooms of the entire trip! hahahaha… the guys one smelled of urine so strong, it was burning my nose.  The girls said the ladies one stunk too, but they could not decide what the smell was.

The trail to the falls is 1.4 miles each way, and most of the way out there is a slight uphill.  Everyone was in a good mood, and we enjoyed our walk.  I really missed our family hikes, it’s such a fun time to bond with the girls.  Bella was all chatty again, talking non stop about stuff.  Bia was in her own little world most of the time today, doing little dances, talking to herself.  She went up with Carol and came back down with me.  I got a few things out of her, but she was into whatever show was going on in her head 🙂 hahahaha.  The walk up was nice, lots of pretty views of the forrest and sometimes we could see out into the mountain ranges.  There was even a group with llamas on the trail.

When we got to the waterfall, it was really cool.  There is a passage behind the falls, so you can walk right behind it and that’s what made that special.  We spent some time around there, taking pictures, checking out the water, walking on the rocks below the falls, etc.  The water was cold and felt a bit slimy.  After we enjoyed the area a bit, we started our return. 

Going downhill is always easier, but also puts some effort into muscles we don’t use every day, so you get sore sometimes.  Bia is the one who usually feels it, but she didn’t today, she was just going.  I was in front with Bia and Carol was just behind us with Bella.  Bia was again doing her thing, swinging her arms to shoo bugs, singing whatever was in her head, she was happy.  I was just enjoying watching and being there.

When we got back to the truck, I had Carol stay out to help me get out of that tight spot.  I also put the truck on 4×4 as I knew I’d have a wheel or another in the air as we got out.  With the 4×4 on, the truck just went out easily and I could not even tell if any wheel went up in the air or not.  After we got out, Carol hopped back in and we left.  On our way out of the Roaring Fork Motor Trail I was going a bit faster.  It is an awesome road, but we had been there before so I didn’t need to go too slow.  The road is narrow, and full of turns and ups and downs, so it’s not like you can go super fast.  But it was fun trying to go a bit faster, felt like a small rollercoaster 🙂

Once we were out of the trail, we headed towards a grocery store near our campground before heading home.  Carol took the girls to get some groceries and stuff for breakfast, and I got some beer.  After that, we went back home and had dinner together outside.  It was nice, we were together and chatting and having a good time.  When the girls were done, they showered quick to get some electronics time.  I gave them a curfew today of 8:10 for electronics, so the rest of the night would be for reading.  They hurried up with showers and such to have more time on their phones. 

I went to take a shower while they were still on their phones, then when I got back it was book time.  They both read for about an hour, and were enjoying it.  They love reading, but if there’s a choice between phone and book, book always loses, so we need to make sure they have reading time.  And that was it, we put things away, Carol washed the dishes and I dried and put them away.  We did the final clean up for the night and put the girls to bed.  Then we got ready ourselves and went to bed.  I separated the laundry, but didn’t fold it.  Every time I work on laundry by the bed my back hurts, so I just separated everything and we can fold and put away tomorrow.

We had a great day hiking Grotto Falls at the Smoky Mountains National Park.

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