It's not an adventure without a challenge.
The latest backpacking adventure took us into the Shining Rock Wilderness area in North Carolina.
We met on a Friday morning and headed up the Old Butt Knob trail. I had read that this trail was going to be steep, but I ignored that warning and planned our hike up the hill. On the map, the contour lines were so close together in this area that it was just gray on the b&w print. Somewhere I read it was a 1500 ft climb in half a mile. It felt like we climbed twice that. The trail is also known as Kick Your Old Butt Knob trail and it was given a few names as we hiked it Friday that I won't repeat.
This kicked off our adventure in the wilderness.
Eventually we made it to Shining Rock, where there is a field of white rocks.
All day Friday I was on the lookout for a bear. Not because I was scared, but because I wanted to see one. It never showed itself. The only close encounter we had Friday with nature was some kind of insect that was making his way up the inside of Chip's pant leg. When he went to swat at it, he got a sharp sting. Good thing he didn't let the bug get any higher!
That night I was at the fire at felt something biting the top of my leg. I looked down and saw a small, bright red bug on my pants. It was starting to hurt and I went to brush him off my pant leg. That's when I realized it wasn't a bug, it was FIRE.
After I confirmed I wasn't burning in the fire, I looked up to see a rabbit quietly hopping around our tent area. We contemplated eating him, but decided to let him live another day. He's lucky he came after we had all just eaten our crackers.
Across from our camp was a camp of a few women. They took several hours to build some type of tower with some large logs. It was in the form of a gateway. Two tall towers, maybe seven feet tall, with a large piece of wood stretched across the top to form the doorway. We had a good evening waiting for them to burn this monument but the girls never did burn it. It turned out that they were just going to hang laundry from this structure.
Saturday morning we broke camp and headed back into the wilderness of unmarked trails.
After a few river crossings and quick glances at our maps, we came upon a sign on the trail. This was odd since nothing was marked in the wilderness. We stopped to check the maps and found we had made a wrong turn after one of the river crossings. We were only ten minutes from the river, so turning back won over hitching on the Blue Ridge Pkwy.
Our Saturday lunch was on the river. We perched ourselves on some boulders in the middle of the river and took a much needed break. One of the things that struck me the most about the river was how incredibly clear it was. You could see very clearly every rock sitting on the bottom of the river.
We had some challenges on our two days of hiking. Challenges with the terrain and challenges with keeping pointed in the right direction. But that's okay, because the challenges make an adventure.