The Hike Inn
This weekend the Family went hiking with R’s Girl Scout Troop. We went to the Len Foote Hike Inn on the Appalachian Trail (AT) - http://hike-inn.com/ - for an overnight stay. Surprisingly, we were the only full family on this trip. DW made sure to point this out to me, to make sure I knew that it was an anomaly, and that her presence was not completely necessary.
There is a “moderate 5 mile hike” to get to the Inn, which if you’re a hiker or regular exerciser is true. However, to a 7 year old it was a bit more. The challenge of the hike was exasperated by Coco's insistence that she carried both her back pack and her fanny pack and intermittently used a walking stick. She was a trooper the whole time. Keeping up with DW and me, staying ahead of the rear of the line, and keeping her complaints to a minimum.
Throughout the 3 hour hike the group would stop to let everyone catch up with the Trail Blazers, get a snack, look at the scenery, and catch a little rest. The problem with this is that by the time the rear of the line catches up, the front of the line is ready to go again.
“Can we leave yet?”
“We’ve been waiting 20 minutes!”
Luckily, the excitement and novelty of being on the AT held their complaints at bay for the most part. This was also helped by the ample amount of food that was brought along by various parents. Bananas, trail mix, and Cuties (those not-quite-as-good-Clementines-tangerines). I, of course, had packed a variety of candy and other processed snacks because I know my family: Now and Laters, Gummi Worms (regular and sour), caramel squares, Rice Krispies Treats and cheese crackers. I did not let this be widely known as I did not want the entire troop to take my stash.
After 3 hours we arrived. The Inn is quite impressive. Three buildings with bare bones electricity. Bare bones everything, really. Bedrooms are about the size of a small walk-in closet with a set of bunk-beds and a small stool. So, barebones except for the food. Oh my goodness The Food. These people COOK! Being on the AT works up a serious appetite. The Inn provides a dinner and a breakfast for their guests. Our dinner was generous helpings of roast beast, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, a spinach salad with BACON and some deliciously sweet citrusy dressing, wheat rolls and for dessert homemade almond pound cake with chocolate icing. All of this was homemade. Homemade!
I’d say we did some fun Girl Scouty stuff after dinner, but that would be a lie. Our troop doesn’t roll that way. The girls hung out. The parents hung out. The siblings hung out. A good time was had by all.
Morning arrived early to the sound of a wooden drum announcing a beautiful sunrise was about to happen. We had been told this would happen, but you’re not really prepared for the beating, however gently, of a wooden drum at 6:50. Slowly we emerged, putting clothes on over pajamas and made our way down for some coffee or hot chocolate for a really spectacular view.
The sunrise is something that a lot of us probably take for granted. I try to notice it whenever I can on the way to work when I’m not angry about something one of The Girls has done to delay our morning commute. A nice pink sunrise over the pines on Lawrenceville Highway is nice, but Sunrise over the North Georgia Mountains is a completely different site to behold. Nothing like a good breakfast after a spectacular sunrise.
Scrambled eggs, bacon, oatmeal, some kind of peach cobblery thing and a selection of cold cereal. Again, all homemade. They want to fill you up with protein and carbs before you head back onto the AT. I guess if you hiked 5 miles every day then eating like that wouldn’t be such a big deal.
Unfortunately “a good time was had by all” didn’t last the whole trip. There were different reasons for this. Falling down is the first. Falling down is funny to watch most of the time. If you’re the one falling down, it sucks. It sucks more if the person falling down is your family. Two of three fallers were, sadly, my family. R bit it first. Going too fast, trying to keep up with the Trail Blazers would have been my first guess as to why. It turns out that was only partially true. More on that in a minute. My poor DW was the other family member, and she got it worst of all the fallers.
I’m still not exactly sure what happened, but she had just saved Coco from impaling herself on a broken stick jutting out the side of the trail. So she was still freaked out from that and I don’t know if Coco was just tired or what, but she kept bumbling along, partially tripping holding DW’s hand. Well, the last time it caused DW to fall and because she was holding Coco’s hand she wasn’t able to stop herself and she crashed down onto a gnarled root.
I was at the back of the line talking with a mother about school stuff when I saw someone down. Then I saw it was DW and ran up there to see her face bloodied; nose bleeding, cuts across the bridge of her nose, under her eyes, in between her eyebrows. Ugh. Turns out the sunglasses she was wearing hit the root cutting her face everywhere there was skin contact. As bad as that sounds, it would have been so much worse. I am eternally grateful for the sunglasses making the Ultimate Sacrifice to save DW.
So, she’s swollen, cut, bruised, but basically okay. She, of course, is claiming that this incident is proof that she has no business going on Girl Scout outings. Can’t say I blame her. Here is the family's reaction to this: R ran away to get in the trouble you're about to read, Coco laughed at her when I put the Band-Aid across the bridge of her nose, and I let her know, "There go your looks". Pretty typical Benefield stuff.
This may not surprise some of you, but it caught me off guard. Girl Scouts can be Mean Girls, too. Turns out the reason R was going so fast is that some of the girls were trying to leave behind one of the other girls. These girls have been a troop since Kindergarten. They have been together in some form or another since pre-K. I know it’s not unusual for friends to get tired of certain friends, but the girls involved in this really did surprise me. Both the ones being mean and the one getting left behind.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until it was all over that this came to light. DW discovered it, almost by chance when we had to address some of R’s pre-pubescent behavior. We thought R was trying to stay away from Coco. That was just part of the truth. I tell you what; I would not have wanted to be on the receiving end of the smack down she got from DW and me. I even did the pull-off-on-the-side-of-the-road so we could address it with the appropriate attention. There were lots of tears, and I’m pretty sure she was just a step away from hyper-ventilating. Coco was laying low and trying to stay unnoticed.
DW had some really horrible Mean Girl experiences when she was growing up. Really. Horrible. They very much shaped who she has become, and she very firmly believes that had some adult taken notice and put a stop to what was going on her childhood would have been very different. So, to say that she has no tolerance for anything Mean Girl related is a huge understatement.
End result – R and Coco both now know that not only is it unacceptable to be mean, but that it is their job to let people know that they are not allowed to be mean, and that they are also charged with going to be with the one getting picked on to be their friend. It’s a big responsibility, but we think that it’s what’s right. Easy? No, not at all, but doing what’s right often isn’t, and the earlier they learn this, the better off they, and ultimately, others will be.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some ointment to put on DW's face.