Monday, October 10, 2011
Sweatshirt Camping & The Coolest Hike in NC
Summertime in NC is pool season, not camping season. Chris found this out the hard way last summer when he went backpacking in August with friends (though we all suspected that would be the case). So this year, we went once in the Spring (early, early Spring) and then we waited until the cooler weather arrived and killed all the bugs. Camping is a lot more fun when you aren't sweating buckets and being eaten alive my monster bugs. Hiking is even more pleasant under these conditions!
We arrived on a Thursday to make sure we got our favorite site and were still thwarted. However, we found a NEW favorite! It was perfect. The big kid tent was nestled nicely in the woods above the main site. Highs in the 50's during the day was just right! I love Sweatshirt Camping!
We'd heard it was Prime Peeping Season this weekend, but I think these trees still had a way to go. It was still beautiful everywhere we went!
Sillies at our picnic site at Grandfather Mountain. We had plans to visit in the Spring, but we got rained out that trip.
The famous Mile High Swinging Bridge. Not that it has a mile of free-falling space underneath it, but it IS exactly 5,280 ft above sea level. I could have done with a little more swinging, personally! Not too windy that day. ;) This was just a warm up for the REAL adventure of the day...hiking to McCrae Peak!
A shot looking down, we were gaining elevation fast! This hike was very much like what we were used to in Utah...no meandering flat paths here! You are either headed UP or DOWN. In fact, some areas are so steep you need to use cables and ladders to make your way through. The kids were STOKED! (all 4 of them) :)
Almost to the crazy stuff!
First ladder! This was cool, right in a crevice.
See how steep it is compared to her little body? I wonder how many 4-year-olds have done this hike... People on the trail were openly telling us that we'd need to be turning around soon with "all those kids". The kids started replying that they'd learned to walk on trails like these!
More ladders. This is one in a series of four, back to back. I was a little disoriented at the top one that was out near the edge....it was sky all around me on three sides. I'm not gonna lie....it took me a minute to breathe and center. The kids were not even phased. It's a testament to how they've grown up! So proud of my little troopers.
See that ladder in the distance? Awesome.
Just about to the top! Me and my littlest.
We were so exhilarated to be on the top of that peak! I haven't felt that since Half Dome....it's been a long time!
Having a snack and talking about the important things in life. All in a good day. Fresh air, family and trail mix! The hike down was just as hard, if not harder....ladders backwards? Yeah.
My knees were a little mad at me after running 10 miles on Thursday (my half marathon is in 4 weeks) and then doing a hike this technical the next day. So the rest of the trip looked something like this...
Barefoot fishing in the streams, rock-hopping, falling in, exploring caves, gathering firewood, nutella s'mores, maybe a nap or two...
...and whittling. Must not forget that.
May all your camping be Sweatshirt Camping!