I know when you read a story about the great outdoors in your Herald paper, it’s usually by Steve Hudson. And you probably don’t expect anyone to talk about the Appalachian Trail but Ray Appen.
But I’m taking a page out their books (newspapers?) this week to tell you all about my recent camping trip.
A few months ago, my friends and I thought it would be a great idea to go camping. My friend Jackie booked us the perfect campsite at Lake Winfield Scott.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t have known then what the weather would be like.
It was raining on and off for a few days leading up to the camping trip, but I didn’t bother checking the forecast, naïvely hoping skies would clear before the weekend, or the rain wouldn’t be so bad where we were heading.
Other members of the party later told me they had checked the forecast but didn’t want to be the first to back out.
Whether because of hope, naivety or stubbornness, none of us backed out. Friday evening, as soon as I was done proofing the paper, I piled into a car loaded down with camping gear and we made our way to the site.
Luckily, the rain paused while we set up our campsite, but that was one of the few moments of respite the whole weekend. By the time we left Sunday, there wasn’t a single piece of clothing, tarp, or sleeping bag that wasn’t at least damp, if not outright soaked.
Saturday, some of us hiked five hours in the rain, taking Slaughter Creek Trail to where it met up with the Appalachian Trail on Blood Mountain. On the way, we assured ourselves that these locals were named “slaughter” and “blood” for their Civil War history, or maybe in honor of the Creek and Cherokee Indians, definitely not after a group of hikers that were violently murdered.
Soaked to the bone, we reached the peak of the mountain and took in the — well, view isn’t the right word. We could see nothing but fog and white sky. But the sense of satisfaction for having made it to the top was no less sweet because of the rain.
Though it made me long for hot chocolate in June, I don’t regret going on the camping trip for a second. I had fun and made memories with great friends. Plus, I had plenty of s’mores.
I’ve traveled to 18 states and 10 countries, and in all that experience I can say the most important qualities of a vacation are the company you keep and the memories you make.
When you look back on a trip, you rarely remember the lines you waited in, the hassles with the reservation, the uncooperative weather, and if you do remember the bad, you look back on them and laugh.
I’m sure sometime years from now I’ll sit around a campfire and tell a story about the time I hiked a mountain in a torrential downpour with a smile on my face.
If your family is going on a summer vacation soon, I hope you make memories worth sharing.