Here in NC, Memorial Day means mass exodus to the beach. As I am not one for crowds, I headed the opposite direction towards my beloved mountains. And this time I was going to mix things up a bit: I was going to try my hand at camping.
I have never really truly gone camping. I’ve gone Girl Scout camping, which anyone in the Girl Scouts can tell you isn’t really camping. And I spent some summers at 4-H camp, which did have the whole sleeping-on-a-cot-in-the-heat-with-yucky-bath-houses experience of camping, but no, I’ve never done the sleep-in-a-tent, cook-by-a-fire type camping. I had resisted camping for a long time simply because a) I had always just heard awful stories about people’s experience camping and 2) I wasn’t truly convinced I could get a hot shower. But in the name of being adventurous, I decided to try it out and I actually had a very pleasant time. Although I had really heard nothing but negative things about camping, the weather was perfect, the tent went up without a hitch, and I actually slept just fine.
We did have an air mattress so I guess that’s cheating a bit, but other than that, it was cooking eggs and coffee over a tiny propane stove for breakfast, cooking burgers, baked beans, and s’mores (of course) over a crackling fire for dinner, trekking to a bath house just to use the facilities, and settling down each night in a sleeping bag. On the second night I tried out my handy-dandy flint and steel I got for my birthday. We built up the tinder with dry leaves, twigs, and logs, and, placing a few pieces of lint around the perimeter, I struck the flint, sending sparks flying and the tinder immediately caught fire.
It’s now my new favorite toy. You should get one.
During the day we went hiking. On Saturday we hiked to the top of Grandfather Mountain, which I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years now. It’s a pretty awesome hike, complete with ladders and cables to climb sheer cliff faces. You don’t need any rock climbing experience but you do have to be in shape! We made it to MacRae’s Peak and began towards Calloway Peak but realized we were running out of sunlight and turned back.
The next day, we headed to Linville Falls to hike down to the bottom of the lower falls. This was a hike I made a couple of years ago and it totally kicked my butt, completely incapacitating me the next day. Since then, it’s been the hike to compare all other hikes to and I was eager to discover whether it really was as bad as all that or if I had just really been out of shape when I did it earlier. I was pleased to discover that this time, the hike was literally a walk in the park. The 6 hour Grandfather Mountain hike the day before had been much more challenging, although that was still completely “doable.” Glad to know I’m in pretty good shape!
After Linville Falls, we headed to Moses Cone Memorial Park, which is more just a long walk than a hike. The grounds are really just rolling mountain meadows, but it afforded some scenic vistas and the tower at the top provided a great view of the surrounding area.
All in all, a very pleasant way to spend a long weekend by getting some fresh air, much needed physical activity, and something to check off the 101 things to do before you die list to boot!
As it turned out, camping also served to prepare for a pretty crazy adventure I’m getting ready to embark on in the coming days, so stay tuned to find out what completely insane thing I’ve agreed to do…