Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

After our Outer Banks trip for our anniversary, we waited a whole 5 days before heading to the opposite end of the state last weekend for a camping trip. Literally, from one end of the state to the other in one week.

A while back, we planned said camping trip one drunken night with our dear friends Chrissy and Mike. I woke up the next morning and said, “we’re not really going camping are we? That was just drunk talk wasn’t it?” Nope. It wasn’t. They still wanted to go so we set the date.

Lee and I left bright and early Friday morning. The drive was beautiful, as the further west we got, the more colorful the leaves were. We even saw a baby bear cub galloping along the side of the highway. So cute! Especially from the safety of the truck. I was hopeful that this would be the only bear encounter of the trip.

We checked into Davidson River campground near Brevard/Asheville and set up camp. We took Sugar along with us and she was in hog dog heaven. She loved being outdoors and spending every waking (and sleeping) minute with us.

Friday afternoon was a quick hike and a trip to the visitors center to pick up some trail maps. Friday night was hotdogs on the campfire. Chrissy and Mike arrived late Friday night and after they set up their tent we called it a night to rest up for Saturday.

We knew it was going to be a COLD weekend, especially at night, but our sleeping strategy on Friday night was NOT a good one. I shivered almost the entire night. Sugar decided that she was going to sleep in between us on the air mattress. (This is a dog who sleeps outside and only comes in the house on occasion.) But the dog is like a FURNACE so I was thankful to snuggle up and use her as my own personal space heater.

We slept in on Saturday morning and Lee cooked bacon, eggs and biscuits for breakfast. We went for a long hike in the morning and then decided to go waterfall hunting in the afternoon.

Our first stop was Looking Glass Falls. It’s a beautiful waterfall, but you literally drive right up to it, so there were a million people there. Sugar was hyper-excited and we had a hard time keeping her from jumping on every person and dog in sight. We all agreed that we like waterfalls that require a little work to get to, so they’re a little more private.

That’s when we decided to go to Courthouse Falls.

You know how sometimes on trips you have experiences where you think “man this was a bad idea?” but it’s too late to change your mind and your husband is about to drive you off the side of the mountain and you keep thinking that you’re lost and somehow it’s always those experiences that make everyone crazy with laughter and it ends up being the best part of the trip and you know that’s the only part you’ll remember 10 years from now? Yeah, that was Courthouse Falls.

I had a brochure of waterfalls in the area. We were following the directions to Courthouse falls. The directions were really simple, like “turn left here and go 8 miles and turn right here and go 6 miles and then just after the creek crossing is the trailhead.” How hard could that be right? Well what the brochure neglected to mention was that 90% of the drive was a Forest Service road, which essentially means “a narrow one-lane gravel road up the side of a mountain.” So we’re lumbering along, up and up and up the mountain and Lee is going way too fast and I keep telling him to slow down, what if there’s a car coming! And we’re looking down the very steep side of a mountain, down to what is sure to be our death.

And we keep thinking we’re lost, like “this totally cannot be right” until magically the directions make sense every time we’re about to give up hope and just beyond a small concrete bridge there IS a gravel road on the left.

But we pass a Christmas tree farm nestled into the mountain and it’s so cute that Chrissy and I demand the truck be stopped so we can take pictures. And then it’s SNOWING. These big fat white flakes on the backdrop of fall leaves of every color. And everyone is smiling at the incredibleness of it all. And finally we get to the trailhead and pile out and Sugar doesn’t have to be on her leash because there’s not another soul in sight and she's LOVING IT.

And we hike the half mile to the waterfall and it’s BEAUTIFUL. It’s not even any more beautiful than Looking Glass, but it IS, because we worked hard to get there and it’s ALL OURS, nobody else’s. And the dog immediately jumps in the water (did I mention it was just snowing?) but she’s frolicking away like it’s 80 degrees outside instead of 35.

We got some priceless pictures. No random strangers in these shots like the ones at Looking Glass.

On the way home we cheated and went to Wal-Mart, where Lee bought a sleeping bag that actually has a working zipper. (Not that I can say much. My sleeping bag was the black one with neon splatters all over it and a hot pink liner a la 5th grade Miss Summer Sleepover. Oh you know the one.)

We cooked a delicious meal Saturday night - steaks, baked potatoes, pasta salad and of course s'mores for dessert. Wine + beer + whiskey + fellowship around the campfire = happy and sleepy campers.

Saturday night was about 10 degrees colder than Friday night, but we were better prepared (and wore more clothes) so things weren't nearly as shivery.

Sunday morning was another delicious breakfast of sausage and cinnamon rolls. Then we packed up camp and made our way home.

Sugar is just now getting over her depression of being back home. She was hoping we would live there forever. It was a fun trip, but that will not be happening any time soon.

Lee at Looking Glass Falls

Me at Looking Glass

Christmas Tree Farm

Mike in the river at Courthouse Falls

Sugar shaking off after her romp in the freezing water

Hello. My name is Sugar and I love camping.

Courthouse Falls

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