Backpacking in the Pisgah Mountains, NC
The epic Wiley vacation began on Sunday July 5, 2015. All five of us, and only us, headed out west to the land of mountains, trees, bears and cooler weather. Three out of four “ain’t” bad! Once in the car, everyone was pretty excited and nervous.
The plan was to drive to Pisgah; park, hike, camp then drive to next location. We arrived at the base of Harper Creek Trail.
We planned to hike South Harper Creek Falls then continue up the mountain and find a camp site on a ridge. As we neared the waterfall, excitement was elevated until screaming. And more screaming. Lead hiker disturbed a yellow jacket nest on the trail and everyone behind him got stung. The youngest took the brunt of the the bee wrath getting stung twelve times.
After the child chilled and we filled our Camelbacks in the stream, we hopped on Raider Camp Trail, part of the Mountains to Sea Trail to look for our camp area. About one mile up we found a nice clearing and most importantly with enough trees to accommodate our Hennessy Hammocks.
I can’t believe I slept in a hammock! Needless to say I didn’t sleep much the first night or any night for that matter.
The next morning we, ate breakfast, packed up and hiked back down the trail. The trail was single track and dense. We saw our first sign of bears–one big, fresh pile of berries in the middle of the trail. I thought my husband was going to leave his own pile right there next to it.
“We in the bears house!”
I’ll admit, I first wanted to cry and then wondered where the bear can spray was and how fast could I open the 25 hooks and pulls of my backpack to get to it.
We hiked out of the woods and drove to Hunt Fish Falls trailhead. We hopped on the Mountains to Sea Trail and hiked to find our next camp site. We set up camp near the river this time in between Hunt Fish Falls and Gragg Prong Falls.
The reward after the hike and setting up camp!
Everyone went to bed this night happy that there were people about 10 minute walk away and didn’t feel so isolated. Morning came and middle child announced that the people down the way must have let their dog out because he heard it sniffing around his hammock during the night. OY!!!! Looking at youngest, we all said, “yes…..must have been a dog.” Then the next child awoke, heard the sniffing story and then told his story that he had hoped was a dream. He felt something brush against his head. I really don’t know how we continued this vacation in hammocks.
We were anxious to get out of the camp site and hike. We headed for the hills to hike Little Lost cove cliffs then Dark Side cliffs.
The theme of this vacation was flexibilty. We decided to go to Hot Springs, home of the famous hot springs and stop on the Appalachian Trail. On the way we stopped at Linville Falls and Wiseman’s View.
After visiting Linville and a long drive to Hot Springs, moods began to unravel. After much ado including the unfortunate waking of the campground manager, a stoned dude sleeping on his front porch, we found a place to hang our hammonks at the Rocky Bluff Campground National State Park.
There were other campers and bathrooms raising our comfort levels for the sleeping arrangements. We set up camp and set out to Hot Springs for real food! On the way out of the campsite, we suddenly heard a loud hissing noise which turned out to be the bear spray fallen off the truck spinning and spraying out of control on the road. Good bye protection and $45 but we don’t care we’re going to eat!
We found a Mexican joint and immediately ordered beer and food. Things were looking up until the youngest burst in to tears over the thought of sleeping outside again. Poor vacay planner was tired, in pain and crushed. We carried on; we had to. We walked around the adorable, crunchy town of Hot Springs and went to the Hot Springs. Wow what a difference soaking in hot and relaxing water makes on the body and soul!
That night sleeping was at a minimum as usual. Lots of weird sounds to keep me wondering if the single man camper next to us was an axe murderer or what animal is out there looking to eat us.
We woke to hope: Zip lining and white water rafting on the French Broad River!
We ziplined in the morning, drove to Madison County, another cool and crunchy town and ate at Good Eats. Our rafting guide was the coolest. She has rafted and worked all over the world and was amazing to hang out with all afternoon. As we were chatting, vacay planner imitated the odd sound we had heard the previous evening while trying to sleep. Without pause, she said, that was a bear. I heard it and was terrified but it could have been a bug and would have scared me. So the first night we don’t have bear spray and we are in a real campground, bear are wandering around our site. Another sleepless night ahead!
The youngest asked to sleep in the truck and wanted his momma so we slept in the truck on our final night. The next morning we ate, and headed to Boone so I could run Grandfather Mountain marathon the next day.
The vacation was successful but probably a little too ambitious for the first backpacking/camping trip. Would love to hike a trail from resort to resort. The hiking was great fun.