Saturday morning I woke to the kids climbing into my bed saying "Daddy we want to go on an adventure!"
Daddy didn't have any ready-made plans, so I had to come up with something to capture the imagination of my 4 kids, ages 2-7.
After a little thinking and a quick internet search, I came up with an idea: a waterfall tour and backcountry camping.
We gathered up some supplies and extra clothes then headed out by noon. We drove about 50 miles northeast to Noccalula Falls, our first stop on the Waterfall Adventure.
Long ago a native american named Noccalula was in love with a boy from a rival tribe. When their love was forbidden, she leapt to her death over the 90 foot waterfall, which later was named in her honor. There's a statue at the edge of her falls dramatizing the moment.
Noccalula Falls today has been commercialized with an animal park and children's train ride, which made this first stop the kids' favorite of the day. We walked around the park, climbed boulders, made the treacherous (for daddy at least!) descent into the gorge, ate yummy peaches off the tree, and rode the train around until they kicked us off. It was a great first stop on the adventure!
Next we drove about 50 miles further northeast to Desota Falls. This usually raging falls was reduced to a slightly-more-than trickle by the summer drought. We just missed a local cave rescue team practicing rapels and zip lines across the canyon. We sat for a few minutes on the edge of the 100 foot cliff and admired God's beautiful creation.
Then we drove a little further to Little River Falls. Like Desota and Noccalula, the Little River Falls showed the effects of the drought with water flow probably only 30-40% of what I remembered from last time I was there 10 years ago. The low water allowed us to walk across the rocky river bed and dangle our feet into the cool water just a dozen meters above the falls.
I made the kids hold my hand to stand in the water since the rocks were incredibly slippery. Of course my brave 7 year old ripped her hand away, said "I can do it Daddy," and then immediately fell back into the water. Sometimes I get way too much pleasure from I-told-you-so moments...
Then it was time to find a campsite. Little River Canyon National Preserve only has backcountry camping, and they only allow it at 3 specific single-group sites. Two of the site descriptions stated specifically they were along the banks of the river, but after some serious 4-wheel-drive mudfest boulder-hopping to get to the sites, they were nonexistent. Luckily, I found the 3rd site after a little nerve-racking deep rut narrow steep descents in the truck.
The campsite was the best! We were completely isolated from everything, and were directly on the river. A cleared path led 100 yards upriver to a perfect swimming spot. We pitched the tent, made dinner on the camp stove, and then went for a swim as darkness crept in. That night as we layed in the tent Emma said "Daddy I can't go to sleep because all the crickets are too loud..."
The next morning we woke, ate leftover dinner from the night prior, and then went swimming again before we started back home. The kids were exhausted and slept the whole way! Daddy was exhausted too, but he didn't get to sleep before his 2 hour prescribed run and then his overnight shift in the ER. Finally I crawled into bed early this morning!
What an adventure!
Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.