Starting 2015 Off Right

My brother and I seem to have started a tradition where at the beginning of each year we find something outdoorsy to do together. Last year we spent the day skiing at Beech Mountain (which was one of the best ski trips I’ve ever had) and this year we decided to camp at Table Rock in Linville Gorge, which is actually part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. It was the last weekend that the park would be open until April, and while there were several day hikers it seems like we were one of just a few campers crazy enough to brave the cold and the rain. But it was worth every bit!

Surprisingly, this was my first trip to Linville Gorge. My expectations were high since I had heard so many wonderful things, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. The views were absolutely phenomenal. You can view all the photographs from this trip at Linville Gorge – Table Rock.

Whenever I go backpacking with my brother we tend to seek out a campsite first, knowing that the weather was going to be around freezing temperatures and rainy in the morning we decided to camp within a mile of the parking lot, but past the typical campsites to have some privacy. We lucked out and found a ledge that was sheltered enough by trees to protect us from the wind. So we set up camp and went off to explore.

When I mentioned this to a friend, their response was That’s kind of trusting… You just left all of your stuff, gear, and everything there? Well, Yeah! And that’s what I love so much about the hiking community. We all look out for each other. We respect each other’s spaces and gear. We’re all out here for the same reasons, because we love it and we need to be there. You might pass these people in the street every day and never say a word, but when you’re on the trail we invite each other to our campsites to join us for dinner and share stories. On the trail we all become family. So yes, I will always be much more trusting on the trail.

So back to exploring… My brother and I are monkeys. We like to climb as high as we can, and explore as much as we can. Within reason and with respect to the wild. Which is why we like to set up camp first and then explore, it makes moving around much easier. So my brother and I took the steep hike up to Table Rock, which was slick from the rain. We met many friendly hikers who were on their way down, all promising gorgeous (albeit cold and windy) views at the top. And they were right. My brother and I decided to hang around to see the sunset, so we set off exploring the top of Table Rock. And had plenty of time to goof off. Which involved ridiculous pictures, testing out time-lapse settings on my iPhone, singing (horribly) our favorite songs, teaching my dog tricks, and seeking out future campsites. We’re pretty good at keeping ourselves amused. And while the sunset was a little lackluster due to low, dense clouds, my brother and I still had a blast being silly. And that’s what adventure is about, right? Letting go of inhibitions and having fun!

So we headed back to our campsite in the dark, letting our eyes adjust to the changes in light rather than opting to use a flashlight. We only questioned our path just once, which I think is pretty good considering that there was little to no moonlight, as the moon was hiding behind the dense clouds.

I set about making dinner, spaghetti! And I got to use my new stove, which was amazing. It took a few tries to keep the stove lit but once we got it going dinner was ready pretty quickly. While I was taking care of that, my brother set about building a small fire, which was amazing as the cold was beginning to bite at my exposed face. We spent some time huddled around the fire, musing about trail names. We finally decided that my dog would be Bear Bait. I have yet to claim a trail name. As the fire dwindled down my brother and I cleaned up, set up a bear bag, and put out the fire before heading to bed. My poor dog was exhausted as he crawled into the sleeping bag with me, his body heat keeping me warm as the temperatures plummeted. And, as luck would have it, that’s when it started to rain.

I learned two important lessons that night.
1. My tent is not as waterproof as I had thought
2. My sleeping bag is actually waterproof (thank goodness)

When we woke the next morning, our tent had pools of water in the corners, and anything that had been pressed against the tent fabric was soaked. But my brother and I were both dry and that was the most important thing. We were in the clouds that morning. And it was breathtaking. My brother and I took advantage of the fact that we were high enough to not be getting rained on, yet, and went exploring in the other direction. The views were surreal. We could barely see ten feet in front of us. It was truly ethereal. To be so high up and so in clouds that we could only see the tops of trees as we climbed over rocks, feeling the air thin as we continued on higher.

We listened as the birds began to wake, serenading us with their song. We felt the cool breeze as it pierced our clothes and rustled the trees, creating a calm, gentle song. We listened as the water dripped from rocks, falling into small pools of water. We listened for other signs of life. But there were none. It was just us. Alone. In this peaceful, ethereal universe. Surrounded by swirling fog. Wrapping the world in a white wonderland.

Before long the rain began to hit us, it was too cold to risk getting wet so made our way back to camp for breakfast and hot tea. All too soon we were packed up and in the car on the way home. Once again connected to society and the real world looming before us.

Can we go yet?

Can we go yet?

All set up and ready to explore!

All set up and ready to explore!

Enjoying the views

Enjoying the views

229

Being crazy!

Lost in the clouds

Lost in the clouds

Ethereal

Ethereal

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4 thoughts on “Starting 2015 Off Right

    • Thank you! And thanks for stopping by! At the moment I don’t have much experience under my belt in those areas, but it’s something I plan on doing this year, especially as winter is starting to hit full force here.

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  1. Hey I just wanted to say your blog is so awesome! I saw you’re going to hike SOBO on the AT next year, I’d love to do that but I want to find a girl who enjoys this type of exploring! Do you know any? 🙂 lol

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    • Thank you so much! And thanks for taking the time to comment! I think you’d be surprised at the number of girls who enjoy this type of exploring! I’ve connected with so many just through this blog! It’s awesome!!

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