Last Sunday found my family and me at Mount Cheaha State Park with some friends. Even though we were at the highest point in Alabama–2,413 feet above sea level–it was still a warm day.
It was October the last time I was at Cheaha, so the change in season was even more obvious to me. This time the sun was shining in the clear blue sky and the trees displayed their bright green leaves. Children splashed in the lake. There was no need for jackets anymore. Spring had made its arrival on Mount Cheaha.
We hiked the Blue Trail, a steep one mile trek up Mount Cheaha. I heard the peaceful sound of the gurgling creek running alongside the trail. It blocked the path at one point and we stepped on rocks to cross it. There were many trees down, due to the ice storm of a few months back, but the trail had been cleared well enough.
Despite the canopy of treetops above us, the air was still warm on the trail and everyone was sweaty by the time we reached the top. I kept thinking of my older brother who recently ran a 50K up Mount Cheaha. His race ended with the trail we were hiking. I realized once again how crazy–and amazing!–my big brother is.
The view from the top was beautiful, as always. We could see the rolling mountains in the distance, the lake where we had started, and the vast range of treetops that someone said reminded them of broccoli. We saw the small waterfall that the creek descended from. My dad splashed me with a bit of the cold water. A cool breeze finally swept the stagnant air. That felt good. Very good.
After hiking back down, we chilled out while the kids splashed in the lake and built sand castles on the small beach. Three of us gently swayed on a lovely, but partly-broken bench swing and chatted. The boys entertained us with their castle fights, and my little sister entertained us by acting as the mediator: “Guys! Stop fighting and work on your castles!” But evidently making castles wasn’t nearly as fun as destroying them, so the war raged on.
Time slipped by, and as we finally left Cheaha, it seemed as if we had been on a mini vacation. Just for an afternoon.