|Exploring the river|
These camping experiences have also proven to be life-changing for me. Kyle and I had met briefly at the Japanese Meet-Up during the summer of 2013, but it wasn't until our first camping trip that October that we were able to get to know each other better. Nothing brings two people together quicker than getting lost in the woods and fearing for their lives. (We made it out okay, though.)
This time, Kyle and I maintained the tradition (of camping, not getting lost) by going up to Black Mountain Campground near Burnsville for a weekend trip. We were joined by our friend Kelly and one of her friends, both of whom are much more adept at "real" camping than Kyle and me: they have actual camping supplies and go camping more than once a year! Kelly also brought her two adorable dogs, who seemed right in their element running around the campsite.
Our first day was spent getting settled in and exploring the area. We were able to snag a camping spot right beside the river, and after pitching our tents, we took a hike downstream. The river was singing, the sun was shining, the puppies were laughing, and all was well. Later we cooked a fancy meal of roasted beef, chicken fajitas, and baked potatoes over the fire, followed by enough s'mores to feed an army.
Day two, in retrospect, was really a lovely day, but in the moment, it was pretty brutal. Not knowing exactly what we were getting into, we decided to hike up Mt. Mitchell. Now I've hiked mountains before (almost got to the top of Mt. Fuji six years ago, if that means anything), so the 5.7-mile one-way hike didn't scare me. And I was thinking, sure, it'll be a nice, relaxing walk in the woods.
|Not the view from Mt. Mitchell,|
but from the Blue Ridge Parkway
Coming down was actually more difficult than going up: about a quarter of a mile in, my left knee started swelling with all the jolts, and a little later on, my right joined the party (apparently I'm getting old). The rocky terrain, interlaced with roots, had been easy to use for traction going up, but it made for a hard descent. Most of us were feeling some aches and pains by the time we got back to the campground three hours later. But like I said, in retrospect, I'm really glad we did it!
The next day, Kyle and I left early to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway down to Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, NC. Even with our sore legs, we were happily nostalgic to be back at the place that held such good memories for us. We bought almost 40 pounds of apples! Now what we're going to do with all of those apples is still a mystery: so far I've made five jars of applesauce and an applesauce cake, but we still have another 20 pounds to eat!
I am a person who enjoys a good tradition, and this yearly mountain camping trip is one I want to hold on to for a long time yet. Just maybe a little lighter on my legs.
|Basket of Apples|