Hiking McAfee's Knob with Kids

We did something my anxiety ridden self never thought we would do, especially while being almost 32 weeks pregnant. While on our fall mountain trip, we hiked a 7.8 mile trail with the 4 little boys to visit McAfee's Knob, a mere 3,179 feet high,  the most photographed spot along the Appalachian Trail. 
Last time we visited Roanoke my husband went on a solo hike while the boys and I slept in and had breakfast, and mid hike he sent me a picture of him on sitting on the edge of a cliff, I about died y'all....my husband, father of my 4 kids wasn't just out for a stroll in the woods, he was sitting with his legs dangling off a freaking CLIFF on top of the mountains. 
When he came back that day I told him he was insane and there was no way in God's green earth that you would ever see my butt up on that ledge.....

Never say never...

This week we decided to extend our little weekend trip to West Virginia and travel down to Roanoke to explore the mountains there for a few extra days. For some wild reason, at almost 32 weeks pregnant I found the idea for us to climb that mountain, with all 4 kids a good idea. I am fairly certain I grow extra balls while pregnant, or I extract those balls from the little baby boy in my belly, either or haha!

Let me preface this all with a few disclaimers if you don't know me well.

I LOATHE long walks with kids, I can't even stand the zoo for more than an hour or so, wrangling 4 kids. Its just not my thing. I am the mom who likes my kids at home, in my backyard, fenced in. 
I HATE heights, they scare me and make my skin crawl.
I don't like any physical activity that takes more than 30 minutes. I'm kind of a pansy.
I have never hiked a mountain or anything near it. I am more the drive me to the top and lets take a cool picture and that will be my "mountain experience".

SO the sheer idea of walking 7.8 miles, 32 weeks pregnant with 4 kids (ages 3,5,7,8) just seems delusional, right? 

To my husband, not so much and thank God for him pushing us to do crazy things and getting me outside that comfort zone or else my kids would live in my backyard and not explore the world. So its a blessing in disguise. 

The hike was 3.9 miles up to the overlook cliff, and it was something special. Jordan and the older boys were 10x faster than me and the two littles which was probably best for me, I needed a slow pace. While I was mentally battling myself to keep taking each step, I was having to hold hands of two littles who were also mentally battling. The constant "how much longer" and "this is taking FOREVVVVVER" from Sam was enough to make me want to turn the train around but I knew we had to keep pushing, one step after another even if it was slow. 

Everytime I thought we were close we would still have another mile to go, Jordan was so far ahead I had no idea the distance we walked, and every time we passed someone they would explain how much further we had but I kept smiling and telling the littles "we are almost there, we have water and snacks and will be there soon" and about 2.5 hours later we made it. 
The view was incredible and honestly the pictures are insanely deceiving, it is an insane cliff but the ledge is MUCH wider than the picture appears, but I was still on SUPER high alert, psycho status. 
At the top, we sat and ate our snacks, Sam spilled out our entire water supply of course so we only had a few swigs each, but thankfully it was a cooler day and a slow pace that we could make it. 
For me this was an insane mental and physical victory, doing a thousand things I was terrified to do, things I swore I would never attempt, things at the start of the hike I didn't think were possible. I told Jordan I wouldn't sit on the ledge, and he encouraged me to just try it. So I made sure the kids were WAY FAR BACK so I could focus on the ledge and not 4 little kids movements on a mountain and I inched myself out there. I realized this was one of those ONCE IN A LIFETIME moments and I needed to push myself through the anxiety and get on that ledge, because nothing is more defeating in life than looking back and wishing we had just tried harder, or pushed a little more and I didn't walk 3.9 miles 32 weeks pregnant to not walk away with a victory. So I inched my booty out there slowly and was legit holding my breath the entire time. When I slid my feet over I looked out and took some deep breaths and took it ALL IN. 
I couldn't freaking believe it, I couldn't believe we hiked it, I couldn't believe I was sitting there, I couldn't believe any of it. It was MAGICAL and terrifying but oh so beautiful. 
The older 3 were very cautious but listed to daddy and went out a good amount on the ledge.
We stayed up top for about 30 minutes and started the 3.9 mile trek back. I wish we had brought more food, drinks, and just had a lunch up top. I also wish we would have brought back up chargers because our phones died right after the pictures. There was about 10-15 other people all in different spots on the ledge just hanging out, soaking it all in. There were dogs and all ages of people. It was a really cool vibe up there. Just a bunch of strangers taking in the most gorgeous view ever.

On the walk back we knew the boys were just exhausted and done, the hike up alone was more than they had ever walked in their lives in one day. We took a slow pace the whole way down and stopped a few times to rest for 5 minutes and then continued on. The best part was walking hand in hand with each of the boys with no distractions, we talked about EVERYTHING and got so much quality time together. The entire hike took us about 6 hours round trip, it was far from perfect but we made it and conquered it together. It was such an exhilarating experience and one I never would have imagined the "old me" doing.

My biggest advice for traveling with kids is to just GO, don't over think it. Drop all your expectations and just take it one step at a time. My kids had a GREAT ADVENTURE and will have stories for a lifetime about this hike. And I will have memories that would have never been made in my comfort zone of my kids in my fenced in yard. 

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