Charlotte’s light rail system before and after it opens via Observer Columnist Kevin Siers,
Last summer Emily, Seth, Erby, Marcus and I set off on Memorial Day weekend to explore Pisgah National Forest. After nearly not finding a campsite, we had to turn to the wilderness which allowed us to stumble upon Bard falls. The beauty of the site vowed us to return the following year. And so we did.
This year we brought along Paul and Laura as well as Seth’s brother Zach to bring the total size of our expedition up to eight. A pretty good group for a backwoods expedition. I borrowed Jane’s backpack which she bought for her trek across Europe last year and we set off into the forest.
On the way into Lenoir, NC we stopped at a “Coffee House” to fuel up on food. Turns out it was an exact ripoff of Waffle House 😦
We reached the falls and quickly discovered our stay would be temporary, there were no good flat spots to lay our tents! At least we had fun before we had to head back to the river crossing where some great campsites were located.
We couldn’t pass up the chance to play frisbee at the waterfall, we lost the frisbee in one of the many gaping rock holes
We hiked back up the river and set up our campsite. I drank the jug of water I brought in my pack ASAP because it was heavy!
The next morning we played around on the river a little and then headed back to the car for a drive back to Charlotte. I hope we get to backpack into another waterfall next year.
This was a great warmup for the trip on the Appalacian trail in a few weeks with Jane’s dad. I’m pumped!
I wish Jane could have gone she would have had fun 😦
You can see these shots and more on the Flickr page for this trip.
Andy, Nathan, Rachel and I never get a chance to hang out since we were distributed throughout the state to attend out various institutions of higher education after high school. Fortunately we have able to plan occasional trips throughout the great state of NC over the last four years and hopefully we’ll be planning many more trips to come.
A few weekends ago, we planned one of those aforementioned trips on the New River (just south of Virginia) between Jefferson, NC and the Virginia border. We gave this exact route a shot a few years ago but we wanted to go at it again because it was so much fun. To furnish us with canoes and to pick us up once we reached our destination, we chose Zaloo’s Canoe’s which is the best in the region… even though sparse on directions. They didn’t even give us a map when we left… however it was alright because it is a river and there is only one route. If we had not been on that route before though, we would have been lost.
As we hit the river for the first sixteen miles of the journey a little before lunch, we immediately began to enjoy the scenery and the animals,
After 16 miles of rowing, it was about 7:30pm when we reached the New River State Park HWY 221 Access Campground… less than 2 hours until the total darkness of night set in. We hoped to procure a site because when Andy had followed this exact route in the past he never needed to make reservations. Nathan and I guarded our canoes while Andy and Rachel searched the campground for an empty site. At this point Nathan simply looked down and saw a four leaf clover. Clearly an omen that a campsite would be open. Or at least an omen that would taunt us.
Andy and Rachel returned explaining that all the campsites were full. And at this point it was 7:45pm. We made the decision, the only decision we could make, to set out on the river to find whatever we could find as a location to sleep.
At about 8:15 it was really getting dark and we were starting to panic a little. I started thinking about how difficult it would be to simply cover ourselves in tarps and sleep in the canoes… or maybe we could sleep under the HWY 221 bridge? Like trolls?
Fortunately, Nathan and I spotted this from the river,
I was glad that I got my mom and dad’s hatchet and tarp because they allowed us to clear out a space just as the sun was going down. We cooked our beer soaked brats and hamburgers on my parents camp stove (once again thanks to them for the equipment) and our soaked firewood that came with us on the canoes was lit in blazing glory thanks to the Fire Paste (modified commercial grade napalm) I purchased, thanks to Jane’s recommendation.
As soon as we started cooking our food we heard a high pitched cry which we all agreed was a bobcat. Yikes! This was the true wilderness! Untapped nature, perhaps human feet had never set foot on this land. (Probably due to environmental degradation protection laws which likely threatened stiff fines to anyone that damaged the state property… oops)
After admiring the beauty of the moon over the river we turned into our tents once we moved all out meat scraps to a plastic bag we hung away from the site and talked about the possibility of creatures. I said, “I think we’ll probably hear a few creatures tonight and if we do, lets stay completely still. I’m placing this hatchet in-between our tents and we’ll only use it if we are attacked.” I didn’t know that we would hear creatures the entire night!
That night I hardly slept. I heard animals the entire evening. Something walked next to my head. I heard grunting that sounded like a bear. Racoons fought, bobcats growled, creatures moved and sleep finally set in due to exhaustion. The noises blended with my dreams to produce truly horrifying possibility. One set of footsteps led to a dream about a ranger with a shotgun telling us to get off state property. Other dreams included walking and burrowing rattlesnakes. Finally I awoke due to my phone’s alarm. Andy said he heard animals the whole night too… so it wasn’t just me going crazy. Nathan revealed the next morning that he saw a bear print when we were setting up but didn’t say anything. (Fortunately he chose to do this because we might have panicked)
We set off to cook our bacon and were attacked by one of the largest spiders I’ve ever seen. It was in our food bag,
was quickly smeared with napalm and exploded due to the fire’s heat causing its fluid to expand was encouraged to leave us alone as we relocated it.
After we ate, we packed and filmed a retrospective look at our campsite. I also posted this video seperately yesterday.
Then we set off on the river for another 8-10 miles to arrive at the pickup point exactly as our taxi van arrived to load our canoes on for the drive back to the Zaloo’s Canoe’s parking. Once we arrived at the parking a downpour of rain began… thusly soaking all our equipment and ourselves. We franticly removed our packs and gear from the canoes, loaded them into the car and set off dripping wet. I immedately passed out from exhaustion and awoke about an hour later. I’m not sure how Andy was able to stay awake at the wheel but he surely did 🙂
I’m excited about a river trip next year… maybe the Nantahala river in Western NC?
All these pictures and more can be found in my Flickr photoset of the trip.
Updated my banner from the picture taken by Gill and Tim of me conquering King’s Pinnacle in Charlotte to an more retrospective shot taken by my gorillapod in HDR and compiled in Photomatix Pro of me looking over North Harper Creek near the Kawana Community in the backwoods of the Grandfather Mountain District of Pisgah National Forest. I took this photo during the backpacking trip to the Bard Falls area last weekend.
Based on the original,
Two weekends ago, I went on a canoe trip with Nathan, Andy and Rachel down the New River which is just south of the Virginia border in North Carolina. As we arrived at our campsite at about 7:30pm after canoeing close to 16 miles that day, we realized that the campsite was full and that we had to find a wilderness spot to camp.
Fortunately we found the right spot and we absolutely had to commemorate the overnight stay with a video tour of our campsite,
I took my Canon A650 Powershot camera and modified an SD memory card to run the CHDK software for an intervalometer script. I set the script to capture an image every 16 seconds and I hung my camera using my Gorillapod from the rear view mirror. Then I drove from Brevard, NC to Charlotte. This is what happened. My favorite part is when I get stopped by the train about half-way through.
I plan to do this often when I take different drives. What if I compiled a whole year of driving into 5 minutes? How crazy would that be? Future project ideas already 🙂