An Overnighter in the Woods

Remember if you go camping to please pack in and pack out, leave no trace.  Only we can help preserve mother nature for the next generation.

With that being said enjoy the read! 

TM-It’s rare in my racing schedule that I get 2 consecutive days off. When I found out before the Saturday night Kansas race that I would have Monday off as well as Sunday I shot Cole a text; “It looks like I don’t have to work Monday. Plan an overnight adventure, and get everything ready so we can leave early tomorrow morning.”

CM-I received the message Saturday night that I should start looking for a hike-in hike-out trail in the area. Living on the less mountainous side of the state I knew we would need to drive a while to find a good climb.  Tate sent over some suggestions and I ended up choosing what I thought would be a fun hike.

TM-I layed my head on my pillow at 4am Sunday morning after a sleepless flight home from Kansas. By 8:00am I was double fisting black coffee, and going through all the backpacking gear that Cole had laid out on the office floor. I smiled as Cole made fun of the fact that everything in my pack had its own individual bag. Everything in his pack is just shoved in. A perfect reflection of our different personalities. I lashed my fly rod to the side and ran down the stairs with anticipation.

Cole and I huddled over his cell phone set to speaker phone as we made the call to Mom for mother's day. I filled a thermos of coffee, filled my canteens, double checked everything, and we were on our merry way. A quick stop at my friend Charley's to borrow his fly rod for Cole, then another stop at the grocery store for food. By 2:00 we were pulling up to the trailhead.

CM-Sunday morning we got to packing, and double checking all of the equipment.  Trying not forget the simple things; whiskey, toilet paper, and toothbrushes.  It's always these types of items that get left behind when you are so worried about survival.  After a quick call to Mom for Mother's Day we were off. We only had 2 hours of driving, and 2 stops to make. Typical for “getting underway”.  My love of food and good drink led us to be a little more frivolous with our purchases from the grocery store.  Never would I try to haul beer along with my already heavy pack, but considering it was an easier hike, we figured why not. Sausages on a stick sounded perfect, bagels are light, and apples are healthy.  Although we didn't have a great plan for all the items we figured we would be eating like kings.

TM-Our packs seemed heavy but we knew the hike was short. The first half of the hike was more vertical than we thought, but then trail leveled out to a nicely clear single path. We ascended up a holler (as it's called) searching for our campsite. We crossed the same stream 3 times before we came to a small flat area next to the river. Home sweet home.

CM-After reaching the trail head and strapping the rest of the gear onto our packs we were underway.  Now added to my pack was a camera, and a fly rod that stood taller than a CB whip antenna off my back.  We started down the trail, or should I say up, for the first mile or so it seemed as if we were headed straight uphill. Luckily the trail leveled off some, and the rest of the hike was pretty low key.  Instantly the calmness of the forest started to take over as we were carried down the trail, trying our best to soak in all that we could.  After crossing the river a couple times we had reached our campsite and it was a peach.

TM-We got our hammocks and rain fly's up. Cole dammed a spot in the river and submerged our beers and the sausages in the cool water. I started up one hillside to start collecting firewood. I drug the wood down the hill and Cole would de-limb it and break into campfire size pieces. We scrounged a piece of expanded metal and Cole fashioned a grill off the edge of the fire out of some flat stones.

We hung our shoes and socks on the clothesline to dry, started the fire, and cracked a cold one while we waited for the fire to produce a good coal bed. Once we had good coals we shoveled them into the stone grill we had constructed and threw the sausages on. A half hour of rotating the sausages and stoking the coals produced some of the best primitive campfire food I have ever tasted.

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With full belly's we sat back, sipped our drinks and had good in depth brotherly talk as the years first fireflies lit up the holler. We sat, talked, and laughed until the last of the firewood was gone. By 10:00 we crawled in our hammocks and were out for the count. I slept like a small bear cub until 8:00 am the next morning. It was some of the best sleep I have had in months.

CM-Setup was simple enough and my first priority was chilling the beer and sausages. Yes fire was on the list but this was dinner we were talking about! I dammed off a small portion of the river where the cool water could flow over our beer and sausage uninhibited.  The fire didn't take too much effort, and before we knew it we had some hot coals.  Some kind soul had left some small metal grates by the fire pit, and we used them for a make shift grill.  A few rocks later and bada bing, we were grilling.  Although skeptical at first the sausages were popping in no time, and although we were bun-less they tasted great.  We polished off the last of our beers and just sat by the fire enjoying the wilderness.  Our conversation kept us awake a bit longer before we hit the hammocks.  

TM-I hopped out of my hammock bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We started a small fire to toast our bagels, brushed our teeth, washed our faces in the stream, and brewed a strong pot of coffee on the jet boil. As quick as we had come, we packed up and were headed back down the mountain leaving no trace.

CM-Waking up is always a little rough in the woods but Tate had fired up the coffee pot and I was on toasting duty,  that's right, what was once a sausage grill had now become an elevated bagel toaster. Once the bagels were a golden brown we chowed down. With full stomachs we started packing up.  

TM-We flopped the backpacks down in the car and dug out all the flyfishing gear. We drove a little down the road to a spot I had had some luck previously. I headed through the brush full of piss and vinegar determined to catch the elusive trout. Cole gallivanted through the woods snapping photos, while I attempted my best fly fishing impression. To my defense the river was thick with overhanging branches. After an hour or so, 2 lost flies, no fish landed, and frozen feet from standing in the water I decided I had had enough fly fishing therapy.

CM-Before we knew it we were back down the trail. A little sweaty but in good spirits.  Tate grabbed his fly rod, and I the camera, and we set off down the river to try and catch some fish and photos.  After watching Tate tangle his line in the trees multiple times I figured out that trying to get some good photos of him “fishing” was going to be just as hard as the catching of the actual fish.

TM-We packed up and headed back south toward the house. I started to notice nothing looked familiar. I glanced over to see me navigator/copilot staring off into space, then at my rearview mirror to reveal that the compass said SW…..we should have been going SE. I gave Cole hell for second, laughed, and figured we would hit a major road eventually. What's a couple more miles when your are driving windows down through the country with your little brother, and a carload of camping and fishing gear. Life could be much worse.

CM-Eventually we both gave up, it seemed the perfect fish and/or photo had eluded us.  We packed up and drove home. We got off track a bit, but we got to experience a little more of North Carolina. Plus we still had some snacks we hadn’t eaten, so lost or not I was happy.