Monday, November 30, 2009

Wintry Trek

Hank in the Jeep

A big pastime last week at the mountain house was journeying to various remote spots, preferably locations that require at least some use of all-wheel drive to access. One day we went to the top of Cowee Mountain, to a fire tower there, a drive that involves fording three creeks. Dad said, "Y'all drive the Pilot, and I'll have the jeep with the chain in case I need to pull you out." It's possible that he was secretly hoping for that outcome, because in my experience, men have some special relish for anything that brings them into close contact with chain. (Matt's emergency tree surgery comes to mind here.) It could be a stuck car, snow chains, anything that needs an impromptu binding, tugging, or strapping.

That's Hank all bundled up to ride in the back of the open jeep. Usually the kids like that spot the best, but it was chilly that day. Hank didn't make it down to the valley before he complained that the wind was in his eyes. I think it could have been the dog butt in his eyes too, but we stopped on the road and I moved him into the other car. Then, bundled up like the little brother in A Christmas Story, he fell into a stuporous coma in the warm backseat. When we woke him up, he was a little pissy at being rousted out on top of a mountain and told, "It's time for our hike!" He looked around and said, "I don't want to go to this far, I want to go to a different far!" Even with the weird choice of words, I knew what he meant. But we did what any good parents would do and said, "Well we ain't carryin' you, so you have to walk." So walk he did, and he got with the progam pretty fast.

Walking up to Cowee

Please do not be alarmed by my giant head in this picture. I was wearing a baseball cap that I covered with a jumbo fleece hat. Like a head Snuggie. I look a little like one of those kids who has to wear a safety helmet at all times. But let's take a closer look at how Hank was equipped.


That's a small, travel-sized teddy bear and a sippy cup. Into the wild! He is truly my son, because I never step out of the house without a beverage either. Here are a few (okay, several) more pictures from that outing.

Two Fellows

Hank at the Gate

Cowee Fire Tower


Cowee View

Dad at Cowee


Road Uphill

I love how, in the winter, you can see far through the woods. We drove a long way on dirt roads, going up and up the mountain, and everything was just as brown and bare as it could be. The rhododendrons are always green, though, and when all the other leaves are gone, the huge rhododendron groves show themselves. It is hard to believe that it will all leaf out again. Anyway, we made it back over the three creeks, and nobody whined or fussed, and nobody needed to be pulled with a chain. Success.

Today I am a bit whiny and fussy, because I have the tail-end of a cold that may be settling into my sinuses. My hair kind of hurts, if you know what I mean. I think I need a toddy.


delaine said...

I am so sorry that you feel lousy. Try the warm whiskey and honey toddy. It was a wonderful week with you guys. We enjoyed every minute of it ! The mountains and the woods are stark and bare, yet it is always beautiful, isn't it ? Your pictures are really good. I especially like the group shot of you four. Get well.

chnault said...

Your pictures are making my heart hurt. I spend all the time I can (which is never enough)hiking at my family's near Asheville.

The best thing about exploring in the cold weather is you don't have to watch out for the snakes!

Anonymous said...

Aww cute! You have adorable kids.

Amy said...

What? No chains needed? Are you sure that counts as a success? Those are great pics! Hank is so cute with his beverage and bear. And Laura looks beautiful as always.

Maggie said...

I laughed out loud at the prospect of yall getting stuck and Wayne pulling you out with chains. It IS a guy thing!! Also, it is such a McBride thing to leave the house with a beverage! At this moment I have at least three empty glasses in my car from my morning beverage(Diet Coke, baby)
Your pictures are beautiful. You sure have a lovely family!!

Camp Papa said...

chnault, that makes us fifty-mile neighbors! Every season in Western North Carolina has its own special beauty. I love the winter because I like seeing the bones of the hills and trees.

In the picture of Hank wrapped in the wool blanket, he had just complained that it was "touching my face". Scratchy! No one likes that.

gretchen said...

I so envy your family nature hike. Jimmy's idea of outdoor activity is taking the 6 Train to Coney Island. The last time we went to the mountains, he wore, I swear to God, a wool dress coat, a white silk ascot, and a fedora. I have witnesses.

And I too, always carry a beverage.

Becky said...

A fedora, Gretchen?!? Then he would not have approved of my head snuggie.

Maggie, I usually have at least two coffee mugs in my car.

Jenni said...

I too like the woods in wintertime, for the same reason.

Love the photos!

Dave said...

Nice pictures. I'm still on the tail-end of that cold too.

Keely said...

Your hair doesn't need to hurt to have a toddy.

Hank looks like he's just leaving the gym before work.

Amy Whitley said...

I love wintery walks too, and this is just gorgeous, as are the kids! You should submit the pics to Imagine Childhood's Nature Walks series ( They don't pay me to say this, I promise. I just love them!