Archive for the ‘camping’ Category

Into the Hills

The mountains have pulled on my heart-strings all Summer long.  I guess when the end of August approached, I felt an urgency to go into the hills, and so I did.

The Devil's Garden Overlook on the Blueride Parkway in North Carolina

The Devil’s Garden

Click on above image for a closer view of The Devil’s Garden Overlook

We first arrived at Stone Mountain state park in North Carolina without a reservation.  The trout-laden creek makes the area especially desirable to fisher-people (most of whom are men and boys).  The park ranger instructed us to keep driving north, which I didn’t mind too much.  The higher up we went, the cooler the weather became, and we found a nice little spot to camp. 

I’m not sure that the area we were in is specifically what the Cherokee called, Shoconage, meaning, “The Land of Blue Smoke,” but we did see the blue hue over the mountains and the clouds did look a bit like blue smoke.

My son and I went on our first mountain camping trip when he was only five years old.  I was pretty young myself.  We had joined a friend who was always saying that I should give camping a try.  He was right.

Oddly, after more than twenty years and many outdoor adventures later, I find myself longing for and returning to that same area of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina, Doughton Park Recreation Area, where my son and I first camped with our friend. 

The rolling green hills and awesome views always make me feel like I’m in the right place.  Happily, my son still enjoys coming along with me to camp.

“What do you think would make you feel better?” my son had asked, several days before I decided to pack my gear and go camping.

“I’d like to sleep under the stars and wake up when the sun rises,” I told him.  “I want to feel the rhythm of nature.”

Little did I know that only a few days later, my wishes would come true.

We could only camp for a few nights.  Neither of us wanted to leave, but I hadn’t packed well enough to stay longer and was tired of driving to the store, which was twenty-some miles away.  Twenty mountain miles make for a pretty ride, but feel like fifty when you’re tired.

My favorite part of the trip was on the second day when my son and I had a heart-to-heart talk.  He was more relaxed than I’ve seen him in a long time.  We both remarked on the good night’s sleep we had each experienced.

There’s something about sleeping outdoors, feeling the wind blow, listening to the sound of nature without background noise and tuning into the rhythm of nature that brings clarity to the mind.  Perhaps Mother Nature unfolds a veil.

My next favorite part of our short trip was sitting by the fire, which was the night I removed the rain-fly from our tent, providing me with my second wish the following morning; an awesome view of the sun rising above the mountain. 

On our way home, we drove down to the creek at Stone Mountain State Park, where we spent the day by, “the small falls.”  We enjoyed local sour apples and tart blueberries.  My son and our dog rested on the flat rocks.  I chased a pretty little black and blue butterfly.

Water Energy is a Green Healing

The Small Falls

Butterfly Beautiful

Two children, a girl and an older boy, came to play and of course, they loved our dog, sweet little Ruthie Mae.  Everybody loves Ruthie. 

They were mountain people.  The boy looked about eleven years old. 

“You want me to take her down to the water for you?” he asked. 

Ruthie Mae feels my stress and one way she shows this is by pulling on her leash when we walk, which she’s been doing off and on for a couple of months.

“Sure,” I said to the boy. 

I trusted him right away with my dog, which is unusual.

“C’mon girl,” he said in a lovely Carolina mountain accent.  “C’mon now.  We’re gonna go right down here.  Okay?  There ya go.”

His way with her made me feel good.  I love seeing her happy and she was smiling.

I could tell he had been to those falls many times.  He had a sure foot and the younger girl with him did as well.  I liked him and so did Ruthie.

Ruthie’s enthusiastic walking didn’t seem to affect him.  He continued talking to her in his kind voice and down the craggy path they went toward a sandy spot by the water. 

“You’re really good with her,” I told him.

“Yeah,” he said.  “I been ’round dogs all my life.  I can tell she’s a good one.” 

For a moment, I could imagine him being a grown man and what he would be like.  I imagined a gentle man in the making.

He and Ruthie Mae didn’t get to play together for long because his mother’s cell phone wouldn’t work.  I liked that mine didn’t work.  I figured the woman had to be available for some important reason. 

After the boy and his family left, Ruthie joined my son for a nap on one of the big flat rocks by the water.  He made a soft place for her and she cuddled up next to him.  I occupied myself chasing the pretty black and blue butterfly that liked the sand.

I wanted to stay.  I mean, I really wanted to stay and I almost did, but I had responsibilities waiting and not enough money to do whatever I wanted.  I wish I could go back and stay for the rest of Summer.

(You can click on any photo in the gallery to view a slide show)

Time out…

Mystical Mountains

Sacred Oats fall Crows came to call

A magical view of those rolling green hills

those hills sure do call my name

My beloved 4-legged guardian and I walk barefoot

green grassy meadows where the ground is soft, white-tail deer roam and crows come calling

Where the Sacred Oats fall…  Crows come to call

Suddenly we danced in the night around the fire

We danced at night.

Below are some of my journal entries during my camping trip.  They speak mostly to pain and challenges.  I’m a little surprised.  I did actually enjoy myself, at times, but apparently there was more pain and hard times than I realized.  I do love those hills.  I loved some parts of the trip.  Still, these entries mostly reflect how hard the trip was for me.

–Today we are in the mountains.  Many things occurred over the past few days as I was getting ready to go camping that I didn’t like.  But I’m here.  A moment alone now as my son, a man now, and our two young friends are with me.  Of course our four-legged are here too.  Well, my moment is over.  Son is back.

–Preparing for this trip was extremely hard.  Bending over a lot while packing caused severe lower back pain for me.  I had to walk through the fatigue.  I had to dig deep inside for the will or whatever it was that I had to have, determination I guess, to keep on packing despite severe pain and fatigue.

–I fell.  Slid down a moss covered set of stone steps.  No bruises.

–Sacred oats gone bad.  I am not eating from that bowl.

–I’ve been terribly sick and pretty much having to go at things as usual without much help.  It’s been hard.  I had to do most of the work preparing this trip.  My son isn’t doing well.

–I’m exhausted.  Completely.  My pain levels are off the scale.

–It’s nice writing out here.  My dogs are lying next to me.  The young people went on bicycle rides.  It’s very quiet.

–I love being here.

–Butterflies are everywhere.

–I think the sacred oats that went bad have left us now.  I hope.

–They’re back.

–Well, maybe those bad oats didn’t leave us.

–My pain has hit hard sitting here writing.  I’ll lie down soon.

–God I’m tired!

–My son is having a psychotic episode.

–My intestines hurt like hell.

–I’m watching the last log burn.  Now this wood, well, it’s amazing!

With all the pain and frustration that came with that trip, I managed to get some time out.  I needed to get away from flat land.  I needed to go where the hills surround me.  I needed the cool breeze that always travels through those rolling green mountains.