What does one do for Christmas when one is far from family? Well, we decided to go hiking. This is not so far removed from what we normally do on Christmas. Although we were without my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews, we normally at least go for a walk on Christmas if not an out-and-out hike.
This year, we decided to undertake a slightly more strenuous outing. Not a lot more strenuous, mind you. We opted for a relatively easy and short hike given we’re a bit out of shape these days. Plus, with Twiggy staying with us over the holiday, we weren’t sure what she would be like on the trail.
Wanting a low-stress outing, we decided to revisit Stone Door in the South Cumberland State Park. The walk from the parking lot to the main overlook is only about a mile and the first portion of the trail is paved and wheelchair accessible.
We layered up although it was in the low 50’s here on Christmas day–the wind was strong enough to make it feel cooler. We’d actually planned ahead for once and had provisions for a special Christmas picnic with wild caught smoked salmon, deli rolls, and cream cheese.
Twiggy’s mom had also provided a care package for the dogs for Christmas, so we packed pigs ears and lamb sausages for them to snack on. The care package also included two new toys–a white fluffy ball for Twiggy and a squeaky green reindeer for Tisen.
Tisen claimed the white fluffy ball instead and wouldn’t let Twiggy near it. Notice the ball next to Tisen’s head while riding in the car.
Stone Door is one of the more surprising places near us–at least to us. The drive from Chattanooga to Stone Door is beautiful in and of itself. The highway winds its way through the tree-covered mountains and through Nick-a-Jack lake, making the hour plus drive enjoyable in and of itself. Then, the first overlook on the Stone Door trail is a breath-taking experience, even though you don’t have to leave asphalt to get to it. It’s the kind of scenery that I grew up thinking you had to travel a long way to see.
Further down the trail, the top of the Stone Door (which is really a crevice that has provided a path down to the valley below for thousands of years) affords even more breath-taking views.
What I love the most about the Stone Door overlook is the sound. We sat on the stones at the top of the cliff and just listened for a while. The only sounds we could hear were the wind blowing through the needles of many evergreens and the river tumbling down the valley far below, out of sight. It’s a magical experience to close your eyes and feel like you are air and water and know that life is good. Seems pretty appropriate for Christmas.