I wake up to rain. It’s 5:45am and still dark. I’m pretty sure it rained all night long. It’s cold. 50 degrees. I have to pee! Somehow, I need to convince myself to get out of bed and change clothes to find a potty spot. Crap! Where’s my kula cloth?! Oh. There it is. Just slightly outside of the vestibule’s rain fly, soaked with nearly freezing water. That should be pleasant. Ok, 50 degrees is far from freezing, but still. As I venture out of the warm tent, the rain stops. Yes!! The timing is perfect. I do my business and come back to continue camp chores: retrieve the bear bags, figure out food for the day, wake the girls, and break camp. The girls are tired, but easily awakened. They’re such great kids.
We eat a small breakfast. None of us have an appetite but we force feed what we can for the day’s necessary fuel. I make coffee, and we ponder the day beside the huge Chattanooga River. We get a late start, nearly 10:30am…partly because we don’t want to leave this paradise of a campsite. It’s such an unbelievable spot.
It’s a very foggy morning, so the forest once again has this magical glow. Just as soon as we decide to take the tent down, it starts to rain again. We move with an even bigger purpose and sock the heavy, soaking tent into my bag. We strap on our bags and head out. I instantly, and I mean in the first 5 steps, feel the extra weight in my bag. I’m guessing it’s an easy 4-5 additional pounds. Both feet and my left knee take note. I ignore it and press on….because ya know, we gotta move.
We walk most of the day along the Chattanooga River. The views are gorgeous. We stop and explore, probably a few times too many, and walk out onto the rock cropping sitting on the roaring river. We have miles to do, but we want to experience this trail rather than crush distance. Over 3 miles of the trail is over and under boulders, rock scrambling and a few huge dead falls covering the trail and making it more like an obstacle course.
It’s a lot more fun than yesterday and we have a great time with today’s more technical trail! We saw a lot of people this day (Saturday): several Boy Scout troops, 15-20 kids deep, a few dozen day hikers, and about 5-6 fellow thru hikers. It’s much more populated than yesterday, but doesn’t feel crowded. We enjoy the interactions. One lady, which I regret not getting her name, made conversation about my new bag. She was a bit older than me, most definitely an experienced backpacker, and so helpful.
Unbeknownst to me, I had part of my straps latched incorrectly. She fixed me right up and sent me on my way. I love the trail community so much and the willingness to help a complete stranger! And, I love this bag (Hyperlight Windrider) even more now that I have it situated correctly. It carries well, feels good on my back, sits low enough that I can look up (previous issue with my last pack), and is waterproof so I don’t have to stress over a pack cover.
As we continue down trail, I’m really feeling the extra weight of my pack. No fault of the pack itself, this dang tent is just heavy. I toy with the idea of taking a longer break and trying to fry it out a bit, but we’ve spent so much time exploring side excursions that we’re a little more pressed for time than I’d like to be. I haven’t built up the confidence yet to night hike. It’s becoming more of a struggle than I’m used to. We had a 13 mile day planned, but about half way in, I decide that’s not wise. I feel a bit defeated and annoyed at how much this extra weight is really impacting my body…especially my left knee. I consider taking some Vitamin I, but decide against it and opt for a closer campsite to get off my knee. That last .3 felt like 5 miles…every step has become heavier and heavier.
We find a cute little spot, noted as “Unnamed Campsite,” complete with a fire ring (that we’re too tired to use!), and a small flowing stream. The girls jump into action, direct me to sit and rest as they put up the tent. Mama doesn’t often need help, but they recognize when I do. We then cook our dinner, 2 freeze dried meals, and head off to bed not a second too soon. It’s late and close to 9pm. We are pooped. This quilt is so snuggly and warm and we all drift off to sleep before we can even finish our prayers….hoping the tent has time to dry out over night. I really need a lighter pack tomorrow.
Story by Karen Delos Santos.
Read more :
- 7 days 6 nights camping trip at Table Rock State Park part 1 – From Florida to Table Rock State Park
- 7 days 6 nights camping trip at Table Rock State Park Day 1 – Oconee State Park to Crack in the Rock Campsite