Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bryson City, NC - Camping, Tubing & Hiking

    I just returned from a very enjoyable weekend near Bryson City, NC.  I enjoyed a weekend of "tubing" on Deep Creek, camping both in the woods and at the Smokey Mountain Campground and hiking a few miles in the Smokey's.  It felt both strange and welcome at the same time.  Strange in that I am starting to find myself falling back into the 9 to 5 grind and seeing my time spent in the simpleness of the woods dwindling down (becoming distanced from my comfort zone) and Welcome in the sense that it just feels like home.  The sounds of the outdoors soothes me while the noises of civilization stress me out.  These little outdoor adventures are really doing a world of good.

     We started off leaving Friday night after work.  It's about a 4 hour drive from our neck of the woods so I was prepared for a tiring night.  The drive was uneventful and after a few stops for food and drinks we were at the campground.
     We were joining a Boyscout group that was organized by my friends father.  They were a very pleasant and well behaved group.  It was good to see young children out enjoying the outdoors and learning simple, but forgotten trades that one could benefit from knowing.  They sat around the instructors during training sessions some times with wandering eyes, but mostly with concentration and interest.
     After setting up our tents and getting situated we had some time to get acquainted with everyone.  I had a few questions about my AT hike which I was happy to share.  It did bring back memories and a deep desire to return to the trail. I know my thru hike dreams are over, but since the reason for leaving was out of my control I haven't quite got full closure on the subject.
     Even though my tent was right outside the bathrooms with lights blazing I slept remarkably well.  Apparently our loud camp neighbors were up pretty late with the radio playing and a truck came tearing through the park I didn't hear any of it.  The sounds of the crickets and the breeze blowing up under my tarp were just enough to wash away all the stress that I had accumulated during the week.
     I woke pretty early to the sounds of the Scoutmasters getting a little even with the loud neighbors for being kept up late.  The banging of the garbage can lids and the calling out "Sewey!!! Sewey!!! to get the boys up (all in fun) was enough to wake anyone up withing 2-3 campsites.  7 am was pretty early.
     After cooking my own food and watching the scouts cook up bacon, eggs and grits (yum) we headed off to do some tubing.  It's been a while since I've done this, but it was a nice lazy day while helping out some pretty cool kids.  They all seemed to really enjoy being outdoors and playing with such a simple enjoyment. We did the upper loop several time before heading all the way back to camp.  The water wasn't too low so most of the time could be spent drifting down river without being hung up on rocks.  Only a few times did I actually have to get out of my tube and drag it down stream.
     Once back at camp it was time to eat.  I started off by downing 2 tuna packets and a Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce.  The troop had an abundance of hot dogs so they offered me a couple.  Who was I to turn that down?  I had 2 southern hot dogs done "All the Way"!!  To all you yanks that's with slaw, mustard, chili and onions (I think).  It is pretty dang good if you ask me, but I payed for eating all that while hiking later on :).
     Around 3pm we got our stuff together and headed for the trail head.  We were only planning on heading around 5 miles back into the park so we weren't in a hurry to get going.  I really wasn't sure how my feet were going to hold up since this was my first time hiking in 2 months and my hiking partner also had a bum foot.
     The first fourth of the trail was pretty easy.  It primarily followed old road beds making for smooth terrain with a very easy grade.  There are few places in the trail that you will have to pay close attention to since the map and trail signs are not very specific.
     Once we reached real trail I could feel my desire to be out hiking rush back into my psyche.  It was like I was back out there and all I wanted to do was keep going.  I had to real myself back in on more than one occasion and tell myself "you are only out here one night".  This may sound a little pessimistic, but I am not.  I am very fortunate to be able to head out to the woods as much as I do and never take those opportunities for granted.
     We reached campsite 59 around 5:30 and decided to make camp there.  It had a nice water source, bear cables and plenty of flat areas for tents.  The peaceful sound of the stream was a very prized commodity for real estate in the woods and this seemed just about perfect.
     I set up camp and set about doing some camp chores.  I first went down to the stream to play with my new Sawyer Water Filtration System.  Being the first attempt I anticipated a little learning curve, but over all it was a pretty easy and straight forward setup.  I will play with it a little more and post a gear review video.
     I crawled into my tent early mainly because the bugs were out in full force.  I spent about an hour or so reading in the comfort and confines of my tent with nothing more that the sounds of crickets chirping and the roaring of the rushing stream by our campsite. It quickly lulled me into a tiring state and I finally decided to let the peaceful feeling have it's way with me.  Lights out before 8pm!!
     The morning actually started early for us with the rain moving in around 2am.  We were both up on and off during the morning, but it was very relaxing and I didn't mind laying in my tent until a little after 8am.  We finally got motivated to get up, eat breakfast and pack our wet gear up.  The location was perfect and leaving the tranquility of the stream was difficult.  9 o'clock finally rolled around and we were headed back down the trail.
     Returning back to the trail head I really took my time and just enjoyed being out in the woods.  I took plenty of pictures/videos and played with my GPS unit marking way-points and checking on the tracks. I was glad to be in the woods!!
     Until my next outing.... - Rovious

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