North Carolina Camping

Derek, Jeff and I (along with Remy and Kirra) just got back from an almost week in North Carolina where we did some mingling with old friends for Halloween and camping. We decided to camp out in various NC state parks before heading back to Florida. Let me just say that if camping was a full time job I'd be on that SO fast. This was my first camping trip and I can't ever imagine getting sick of such wonder and beauty. No matter how many deer I see (especially where I live) I'm always in awe at seeing such raw wildness wherever we go. The weather was a much desired break from the Florida heat. Temperatures lingered in the 50's and 60's and at night dropped to the 30's and 40's. Needless to say I woke up more than once during the night in an attempt to burrow more into my sleeping bag or convince Remy that he should curl up with me. After each day we learned more and more about what we need to do to keep warm/comfortable for future hikes. And with aspirations to hike the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail we need all the experience we can get…

Our first night was spent at Eno River State Park after a mad dash to pick up Remy and Kirra from boarding. A few complications caused us to get a late start but after things went wrong some other things went right and we took a moonlit (with the occasional aid of a flashlight) 1 mile hike to our site. We were the only ones in the park that night which felt awesome with a side of uncertainty (and maybe some creepiness?). I fell asleep early on while the guys attempted to start a fire. We left relatively fast the next morning after some tasty soup because Jeff still had goop (liquid latex) in his hair from Halloween and he required the aid of a barber. After another late start we headed west toward Stone Mountain State Park (STSP).  We then detoured to another park, Pilot Mountain State Park (PMSP) when it became apparent that we weren't going to make it before the gates closed. At this point I learned the difference between I-40 and I-40 BUS. To say the least we ended up driving a lot more than was needed much to my frustration. Fortunately though most parks allow you to self-register (for that I love them all the more) so it was alright when we showed up 10 minutes before the gates were set to close. We stayed at a campground at PMSP and there was only room for 1 tent so that night we all squeezed in together, Remy and Kirra included. It wasn't so bad…until Kirra decided a morning run was in order the next day. She darted out of the tent as I was getting out with Remy and took off without even a backwards glance. Earlier Derek had found Remy's backpack some feet away from our site. Something small (with 5 fingers I'm sure) ripped a tiny hole in the side which was just big enough to eat the remainder of Remy’s food. This was my WTF moment. So we spent a stressful morning searching for Kirra and after three hours she returned limping and panting. Thus our Pilot Mountain experience came to an end.

After Kirra returned we finally made it to SMSP, surrounded by miles and miles of…no cell phone signal. This did not bode well for Derek (he had some work to take care of) but fortunately their picnic area had cell signal. Yay! 

After restroom breaks, phone calls, and essential backpack organizing we set out on our trek. I’d been studying the map of our supposed campsite on the drive to Pilot Mountain and I’d noticed all of the hikes in SMSP were either considered “moderate” or “strenuous” in difficulty. Fortunately for us the trail to our campsite was in fact labeled “strenuous”. And yes, strenuous applied to that trail if only for all of the tiring...up...hill...climbing. Even Remy seemed to be straining. My pack felt as if the straps were indefinitely engraving themselves into my shoulders as well. Gah. Here too we were the only ones camping. It felt strangely liberating, having such an expanse of nature to ourselves. We hiked maybe 1.5 to 2 miles to our isolated little site and raced the setting sun to set up the tents. That night we enjoyed some tasty buffalo burgers and baked beans and fell asleep to the rushing sounds of the neighboring creek. The next morning we did a little exploring and got a little lost on the road back to civilization.

An here our journey came to a sad end. It was time to return to Orlando, bah. SMSP was by far my favorite park and I wish we’d had more time to explore the area and see Stone Mountain up close. Actually, I wish we’d had more time to explore every place we’d visited. Nevertheless, we had an amazing time and I can’t wait to go back…maybe…forever? 

Until we meet again North Carolina <3