If you read my last blog post, you know my family and I were hiking on Friday to an undisclosed “secret” location. It probably wasn’t hard to figure where we were (Mt. LeConte) but you may not have known why it was a secret initially, unless you read about our adventures last year in the scavenger hunt at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. Tremont is an amazing educational center on the Tennessee side of the park, and the scavenger hunt is a fundraiser they host to raise money for their scholarship program, to help kids attend their programs who otherwise couldn’t afford the experience easily.
Last year, I was surprisingly thrilled when my family placed third in the hunt, despite not completing the biggest point earning challenge, which was hiking to Mt. LeConte. This year, since this particular challenge has historically always been on the list, it was worth the gamble to start hiking to the top before the questions were released (but not give away the “secret” of starting the hike early to other teams by broadcasting it in any way!). The rules didn’t say you couldn’t be on the summit of LeConte when the hunt officially began, which was exactly where we were!
|You walk right through Arch Rock!|
|Walking through Arch Rock|
|It was soooo foggy along the trail–Alum Cave was especially spooky!|
|Stopping for lunch under the cover of Alum Cave. Ramen noodles were a hit on a chilly, damp day!|
|Waiting for 3:30 to hit in the shelter on the top of LeConte, enjoying hot cider and snacks|
|Our requisite selfie on the top of LeConte–as you can tell, Larry was very focused on getting all six of us in the shot!|
It was a short night of sleep for everyone after we researched some clues and hit the sack. A couple of the question’s answers were found in the music videos Tremont makes with their student groups. The videos are really creative and are a prime example of why I would love to send some of our students to this amazing place one day (which is exactly the sort of stuff we hope the money from our fundraiser, 1500K for Shining Rock, will go towards as we grow the program). Here’s one of my favorites below that you should watch this instant, preferably with your kids. No really, watch it, it’s that awesome and entertaining! **Note: If you’re reading this on your phone, you might not be able to see the link.
|If you had a team member under the age of 10, you got points for picking them up and posing with them in front of a park entrance sign!|
|Sharp-Lobed Hepatica were abundant on the Cove Hardwood Nature Trail. Mountain folklore tells farmers to get ready for planting when hepatica appears.|
|Definitely on the list of things I’ve never done before yesterday–posing in a wild boar trap!|
I could tell the kids were eager to know if we placed, and if the truth be known, my heart was pounding with anticipation too! While it ultimately didn’t matter how we ranked, because we had an amazing weekend of experiential learning and quality time together, I knew the kids would be beside themselves if we placed in the top ten. Imagine our excitement when they announced, “First place goes to the Shining Rock Falcons!” My children inherited my gene for embarrassment of public displays of anything overly emotional, so they politely and sheepishly approached John DiDiego, Tremont’s education director, to receive their award. I knew they were flipping out inside though!
|We did it!|