My FIRST Backpacking Trip – PART TWO

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My FIRST ever backpacking trip with my husband was a success.  I mean, I guess you could say that seeing that I’m still alive and I didn’t have to shoot a bear.  (see my part one post here)

We left on a Tuesday afternoon and drove about an hour and a half from home to Pisgah National Forest.  My husband had found a campsite next to a gravel road and a stream…Plus, what a way to ease me in right, I mean my car was right there.  We set up camp, started a fire, ate dinner and talked.  Then it was time for bed!  It was so cold but my husband reassured me that I had two sleeping bags rated at 50 below zero and I would sweat for sure.  I reluctantly got ready for bed.  Thank God I brought my kindle with me in the tent, because I don’t think I slept for more than an hour at a time, so I read, like ALL – NIGHT – LONG.

David typically takes a small flask with him when he backpacks, so I picked up some of those cute little whiskey shots from the liquor store.  We sipped on them while we talked before bed, and then put them in this adorable little hanging pouch on the ceiling of our tent.  Well, right before bed, he is telling me about different times when he has camped that mice have gotten into his backpack and such.  I fall asleep pretty quickly (it’s exhausting getting ready and leaving four kids at home while you go away for a few nights). Well, in the middle of the night, say about thirty minutes after I fell asleep, I wake up and I am so cold.  I decide to put on my Patagonia jacket (praise Jesus it was in the tent because I would have never gotten out of the tent).  Well, in the dark and me trying not to wake up David, I knocked all those lovely little bottles of whiskey out of that adorable little pouch and could not find one of them.  Cue the mice story, and I was pretty much done for. That one little bottle of whiskey that I could not find had me all of our sorts all night.  I mean at one point I thought I actually felt a mouse touch my leg.  At another point, I thought I saw tiny holes in the tent where I was convinced the mice ate through to come drink my whiskey.  I even turned on my super bright flashlight at like 3 in the morning at those tiny little holes.  Cue David waking up and wondering what in the world I was doing. “It’s okay babe, I promise there are no mice in the tent”.  Ya right.  As he goes back to sleep with the missing tiny bottle of whiskey beside him.  In the morning we realized that when I put my jacket on in the middle of the night one of those tiny bottles fell on him and in his sleep he just picked it up and put it on the floor beside him.

The morning that would never come finally came.  I had been awake for about two hours by the time David woke up.  The agony of wanting to wake someone up so bad but also loving that person so much you want them to rest while they can…Tormenting isn’t it.

He made a fire, he ate his dehydrated biscuits and gravy.  If I’d had another Beef Stroganoff from the night before I probably would have eaten it.  All I can say is, it was YUM-MY!  We packed up and drove two hours to the parking lot for our next night.

As we gained elevation and the trees changed, I began to notice icicles hanging from the tiny trickles of water coming from the rocks.   I pointed them out to David and he was like no big deal.  We kept going.  We arrive at the parking lot at Roan Mountain, right on the North Carolina – Tennessee border and the temperature reads 31 degrees at NOON!  That is when my mom brain kicked in.  If it’s 31 degrees now, how cold will it be at 6am tomorrow? If its 31 degrees now, how cold will the wind feel on the top of that mountain?  If its 31 degrees now, on and on and on.  I took the opportunity to use a real bathroom, well, let me rephrase that…I took the opportunity to sit on an actual toilet seat.  At this point, I realized I don’t like going to the bathroom outside no matter what kind of toilet it is.  So I’m walking back to the car to get my backpack and there is a cloud sweeping over the top of the mountain that we could see all the way to the top of just a few minutes ago. It was also on my walk back to the car that I realized there were snowflakes falling.  “Um, babe, that was a snowflake.” To which he replies, “no it wasn’t”.  To which I told him, “if we do this and it goes badly, let’s say we can’t start a fire or it snows for real, or it’s just so freezing cold, you know that I will never go camping with you again”.  Because…I’m a realist or a pessimist but either way, it was the truth.

So we skipped the mountain and decided to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway because we saw there were some little campsites off some side roads.  So I drive and drive.  [side note:  being married means you fight sometimes, we’ll we almost always fight when he drives and wants me to navigate because I don’t do it the way he wants, so when I drive and he navigates we are both happy – you’re welcome for that little marriage tip] We get to the road with the sites and due to a storm a few nights prior there are only two sites before the rest of the road is closed and those two sites are already occupied.  So we keep driving the Blue Ridge Parkway (gorgeous drive in the Fall) and get about an hour down the road and the entire Blue Ridge Parkway is closed because of the same storm.  So back we go and then around.  All the while David is looking for another place to stay.  We end up near Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock in the southern Pisgah National Forest, where again, they have some campsites right off the road.  So we again drive and drive all over this twisty-turny, don’t look down, gravel roads looking for any available site.  We finally find one at about 5pm.  Set up camp, make a fire, eat dinner, hang out, and go to bed.  I put a lot more clothes on and got all snuggled in my bed with my whiskey and kindle thinking it was going to be another long night.  But, while I was a little cold and I did hear some animals outside the tent, I slept relatively well.  Did I mention the site we found this night was also next to a small stream?  So awesome!

So what is the moral of this long, comical story?  Well, most times in our life we are so excited to get to the destination we forget to enjoy the journey.  Sometimes that journey doesn’t look like  what we planned, but David and I were still together, alone, enjoying the beautiful [fall] scenery (I mean, have you seen my husband…so handsome), enjoying each others company, having a conversation without being interrupted by a child, or a phone call.  It was a great day!

We ended this trip like any good man would – at the spa!  We drove from here the next day to the Grove Park Inn for a night, we spent the whole next day at the spa [expensive, but worth it], ate dinner and then drove the rest of the way home!

Stay tuned for my PART THREE post about the meals we ate, the camping gear we used in addition to reviews of those products!

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