almost perfect camping

just about every year, graham and i go camping. this takes quite a bit of coordination, since neither of us have lived in the same state for 5 years now, but we all make time for what we think is important. we’ve camped the beaches of maryland, the mountains of virginia and north georgia, and now we can add north carolina to the mix.

after getting some advice, maps and books from my new favorite outdoors store (it’s local) we decided the 2.5 hour drive to horsepasture river (which runs through gorges state park and nantahala national forest) was a bit far, but do-able. we had plenty to catch up on anyway.

typically, our camping trips, though awesome, have been marked by some kind of drama. usually in the form of rain… once with the added fun of a sand storm. but this time everything was just so beautiful and easy! our gear was ready, the weather was perfect, our pace was good, the sites were well worth the trek. there are 5 falls along horsepasture river, of which we saw two. turtleback falls is about 1.4 miles in from the trail head. it’s easy to see why it’s called turtleback, with a short round slide that provides a 15-foot drop (depending on where you start) for those brave enough to go over the edge. this would be an easy spot for a day trip-and-dip. rainbow falls is just 0.2 miles further, with a 125-foot drop. there’s a swimming hole at the base, which also looked like fun… but we hiked on, leaving everyone else behind. really, i don’t think we ran into anyone past rainbow falls (till the next morning). about 2 miles in, we decided to swim. it was a lot like goshen, va (my favorite swimming spot in the world) and the water was surprisingly warm for a mountain hike. we hiked on some more, thinking we might make it to the 3rd cascade, when we stumbled upon the best camp site ever. the ground was flat and clear, logs were placed as benches around a campfire spot, fire wood had been gathered and left behind… it was almost eerie. a stream about 10-yards away was great for washing up and collecting water. so we stopped, unloaded and set up camp in no time. when has it ever been this easy?!? we feasted on couscous, tuna and chicken noodle soup for dinner. we made a fire. we talked, told ghost stories, got a little scared, told jokes, laughed, and went to bed tired. pretty much perfect.

graham was slow getting up the next morning, so i chilled out on a log for a long time, which is the kind of thing i like to do. once he got up, we went for a swim and stretched out like lizards on rocks. graham wasn’t feeling well at all, and it didn’t look like he’d be feeling better any time soon, so we packed up to hike out. on our way out, we saw lots of people enjoying the various water holes and slides. this looks to be a popular spot in the summer. about 2/3 of the way out, we threw down our packs and sat on the side of the trail. graham waited for hikers to walk past before vomiting directly onto the trail. so much for perfect camping. miraculously, the vomit soaked right into the ground, totally unnoticeable in less than 2 minutes. in typical boot-and-rally fashion, we loaded up again and didn’t stop walking till we got to the car. i drove home, graham rested… and continued to rest till he could drive home the following day. being sick sucks, but being sick while you travel sucks a little more.

still, it was an awesome weekend, and a great way to christen the mountains of north carolina, of which i hope to see a lot more.

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