We stopped at the Alligator Back overlook to park, view the map sign and take a group photo. Then began the tough part of the trip - the hike up the steep, rocky Alligator back trail. It quickly became much tougher than we expected. We ran into a yellow jacket nest on the trail, and Doug got about 5 stings. But, being the strong man that he is, he soldiered on.
Soon, after about a mile of climbing, we got to the top of the mountain. What a view! - We could see for many miles in several directions. The kids explored around the rocks and pine trees. Some of them harvested pretty pine cones to take home.
We continued the hike over a grassy knoll to the wooden trail shelter, where Dave lead the Sunday devotional service, prepared by Bruce. The kids took turns reading the lessons and Bible verses.
Onwards and upwards. We hiked for several miles over open, grassy meadows and through several split rails fences. Along the way we stopped to play on some big rocks. - By the time that everyone was starving, we reached another wooden shelter with a nice, shaded porch for lunch [and, handily, with a bathroom built into the back]. - Dave remembered this porch as where we grilled hotdogs and ate supper on a youth camping trip several years ago when it rained the whole time. We enjoyed a refreshing repast of smushed sandwiches, cans of beanie weenies and potato chips, washed down with spring cold water from the shelter.
We continued across more meadows and stopped to climb on more rocks and monkey around in some nearby trees. Then on to the Wildcat Rocks overlook. All the kids marveled at the tiny Caudill cabin in the valley where - a family raised 14 children in one room, until they were washed out in the 1916 flood.
On the way back the way we came, we stopped to play in the same trees and rocks. Luckily, we made it past the yellow jacket nest the second time without incident. We all had a great time and promised to do it again. Maybe a bike trip the next time?