Sunday, November 26, 2023

Hiking at Sweetwater State Park

Georgia is a beautiful place, so we thought it would be nice for Katherine and Emily to see some of that beauty. We discussed many, many places, but settled on Sweetwater State Park since scenes of The Hunger Games series were filmed there (and that's of interest to Katherine and Emily, both). Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the trail to the New Manchester Mill was closed, which is really quite a shame because the hike to the mill is relatively easy (though the trail gets hard after the mill).

Instead we hiked the blue trail, which was the next shortest hike on the map. The terrain wasn't quite as...gentle...however.

But we made the best of it. We hiked the yellow trail to the bridge just before the blue trail, and then Emily and Katherine waited patiently while the rest of us speed-hiked the loop. At least, I assume we must have hiked it at a decent clip since my Fitbit says our entire hike was only 1.5 hours long (and we had to hike 0.7 miles from the ranger station to the trailhead (and then 0.7 miles back)). 

We're not really regular hikers, though I would love to do more hiking on these beautiful trails (especially through the autumn, winter, and spring when the weather is nice), but for some reason it's been difficult for us to get out of the house. But we did it! And it was lovely! And I think Andrew's sisters appreciated the beauty, even if the hike was a little out of their comfort zone. It was nice to get out into nature for a bit.

Here's Rachel, who was a little less thrilled about being out in nature when she looked down and saw (arachnophobia warning...)


...a large marbled orb weaver climbing up her shirt.

Beautiful, but also slightly horrifying. I don't know why, precisely. I mean, I get it—I wouldn't want to have that spider crawling on my shirt either (that things was huge), but for some reason I don't have the same reaction to praying mantids or ladybugs (and those creatures also...just eat other creatures). As an orb weaver, this spider is completely harmless to humans...but still gives us the heebie-jeebies. 

Anyway, we hiked down to the bridge...

Took a few group pictures...

It was apparently very sunny this direction, so I suppose we could have gathered elsewhere, but we didn't. Instead I probably just barked at the kids to put their hands down and smile. 

They tried. Oh, how they tried!

Phoebe was there, too! She's just behind Andrew:

She loved keeping track of the trail for us and wanted to touch every blue diamond she saw:

Andrew said she was a wonderful hiking buddy. She was happy the whole time, chatting away to him, and just laughing from the sheer joy of being out in the woods (another sign we should go on another hike sometime).

Benjamin saw this big rock and wanted to climb it like Link (from Zelda).

I think this is my favourite picture of this little series:

Here he is at the top:

Rachel was a little bummed we didn't make it out hiking while she was on her rocks unit (and having to find examples of various rocks) because there were so many wonderful specimens at this park (while we were struggling to find rocks in the parks around home). But she also got some pictures of water that she can use for the unit she's on currently, so that's good!

Here she is hiking with Auntie Em (Grandpa and Aunt Katharine behind):

And here's Andrew with Phoebe, Zoë, and Miriam, waiting for the rest of us to catch up:

Zoë was pretending to be a parrot at this point. She does this rather frequently—makes wings out of her arms and squawks at people. Phoebe was copying her a bit, too (that's why her arms are up, too). 

Here's Zoë running down some stairs she found:

And here's Alexander who was so curious about everything he saw along the trail. He was a wonderful little hiking buddy! I had to catch him several times before he fell, although he probably fell more times than I caught him. The leaf-covered trail was quite slippery and many protruding roots were hidden under leaf cover so most of us tripped or slipped a time or two.

When we all got down from the last hill of the blue loop (before meeting up with Emily and Katherine), Andrew said, "Phew! We made it out of there. Does everyone have their ankles?"

It was pretty funny. Rachel had just done a tremendous slip and grabbed onto me for dear life. We managed to stay upright. I told Rachel that she and I were now even because I had grabbed onto her earlier in the morning when we were working on the clubhouse and I stepped onto a log that was much slicker than it looked and almost landed flat on my back. 

I'm sure we all looked ridiculous, grabbing for each other all along the trail, but it was good to have each other there for support, I guess!


  1. (whispers... agoraphobia is a fear/anxiety of new places and crowds... arachnophobia would be the fear of spiders - which is probably what you meant when Rachel had a spider on her shirt...)

    1. Yup, that is precisely what I meant! Hahaha!

    2. *sings loudly in Daniel Tiger* It's okay to make mistakes! *end singing*

      Does agoraphobia even have visual triggers? Like, I know arachnophobia does for sure, but not sure about agoraphobia...

    3. Large crowds bother me; the closest thing I can think of right now to a visual trigger would be a parking lot full of cars in a place I know I HAVE to go into; I will start to feel uncomfortable before I'm in the acutal crowd.