Things have been busier than normal at work, I’ve been working more hours than normal, so I apologize for the lack of posts lately, but things are beginning to slow down for a little bit so I’ll be back in full force soon!
That being said, I’ve still been finding the time to get outside. This past weekend marked my one year anniversary of my first ever backpacking trip. Naturally, I had to celebrate, and what better way to celebrate than to go on my first solo backpacking trip.
Knowing that this was my first solo trip I wanted to go somewhere that I knew well and I wanted it to be fairly easy so that I wouldn’t hurt my knee again. So I picked my favorite spot: Black Balsam Knob. This area is hands down one of my favorite spots near Asheville, the views are always phenomenal, you can make it a loop or an out-and-back, and it’s challenging enough to keep it interesting but not so hard that I can’t handle it with my bad knee.
This trail served as a reminder of just how out of practice I am. I definitely have some work to do to get used to the weight of a pack again as well as getting back in shape.
I was able to set out in early afternoon, the trail was populated but not so crowded that I couldn’t enjoy the views. I stuck to the Art Loeb trail, which is not marked so I suggest getting a map before taking this trail! Within a view hours I was near the Shining Rock Wilderness area, I prefer to camp outside of this area knowing that fires are not permitted. I scoped out a beautiful, secluded campsite and got everything set up with enough time to keep wandering the trail in Shining Rock Wilderness. There’s a great spring on the trail, not far past the sign, so be sure to bring a bottle and you filter so you can refill. I know my dog was happy to get some fresh water. I didn’t want too far though because I wanted to have enough daylight to prepare a small campfire and dinner. On my way back I passed a large group of campers, maybe some Boy Scouts? But they were the only campers I’d seen so far and it was a comfort to know that they were relatively close to my campsite.
The night passed uneventfully, other than sounds of coyotes in the distance and my dog’s paranoia. Eventually he settled down in the sleeping bag with me and we slept soundly. Maybe a little too soundly, I didn’t get moving until almost 9:00 (whoops). The hike back out was less populated and I took more time to stop and enjoy the views. I felt more relaxed since I didn’t have the time crunch to get to a campsite.
Spending the night in the woods alone left me feeling revamped and energized. I finally did something that I’ve been wanting to do for ages but have been too nervous. I kept giving myself excuses and telling myself I’d go next weekend. I finally told myself I needed to do it, just get over the fears and do it. I am so glad that I did. A year ago I never would have imagined that I would have the skill set necessary to be spending a night alone in the woods. Now I can’t wait to get back out there and do it again. There was so much freedom to being out there, I was on my own time schedule, no one to rush me and no one to keep up with. I could set my own tempo and stop to enjoy the scenery whenever I wanted. Sure, the downside is that there’s no one to calm you down when you hear those creepy noises just outside of your tent… But that’s part of the magic. I was the one to distract myself. I took care of myself and my dog entirely and I feel stronger and more confident because of it.
Next time, though, I’ll be sure to pack the sunscreen 😉
Pics coming soon!