I'm calling this blog, "A Series Of Unfortunate Camping Events".
Last weekend, Erik and I took my brother Robert (20), my sister Amelia (18) and our family dog Scarlett (8 in people years) camping on the Chattooga River near Burrell's Ford Campground close to Clemson, SC. With Robert shipping off to Paris Island the week after and with the annual reign of fire happening (aka summer in Georgia), a weekend by the river sounded like a perfect way to relax.
We had been told that the hike to the river was about a mile, so we packed light... but still brought a cooler. This was our first mistake. We loaded ourselves up like pack mules and headed off to find our campsite.
Only a little ways down the trail we ditched the cooler with plans to come back for it later. One mile into the hike and finally... nothing! No river or campground. A passing backpacker told us that we were going in the wrong way. Of course. He pulled out a map and pointed us in the right direction. Robert (and Scarlett) went ahead to scout out this new trail, Erik and I journeyed back for that darn cooler and Amelia supervised the gear (aka chillax'd). When he returned, Robert told us that he found the river, but that all of the campsites along it were taken. He also met a former meth addict who told him his life story... very interesting experience.
So with that, our hopes of camping right on the river were dashed, so we settled on a campsite that we had passed earlier just off the trail. It was a nice campsite, but honestly a little scary because two hikers said that had seen a bear in this area earlier that morning. So yeah, that had me a little on edge. Starting a campfire was really difficult because it had been raining all day and everything was already wet.
The rest of the night was really fun though! We told stories, discussed recent dreams and pondered the mysteries of the universe. Then it was bedtime. Now last time I went camping, I brought a foam pad, 2 comforters and a super fluffy sleeping bag and sleep was pretty easy. This time all I had was one of those $6 foam pads from Walmart and a super thin sleeping bag. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well... or at all. I got up the next morning with really bad neck, shoulder, and back pain and was even more exhausted than the night before. Amelia had a similar night; she used a roll of paper towels, flattened cardboard box and anything else she could find to make herself a little nest of padding.
Once Robert got up, I took a turn in his ENO (hammock). It was so freaking comfortable - and that's when it hit me, "I'm never sleeping in a tent again!" If I had had this sleeping experience the first time I went camping, I don't think that I'd want to go camping again.
Side Note: Erik and I have since returned our tent to REI and ordered ourselves some Claybourne Hammocks. We wont get a chance to try them out till our trip to Denver next week, but I'm sure they will be better than sleeping on the ground.
After breakfast, we all headed to the river - and boy was it beautiful!!! Scarlett is not a fan of water, but she has separation anxiety and so she took the plunge a couple time just because she didn't want us to leave her on the shore.
The best part of the entire trip was later in the day when we all climbed a freaking waterfall (seen below) of which only the first of 5 total levels is visible from the pictures. Below you'll see a video Robert recorded with his GoPro of us getting to the very last level of the waterfall.
Do you see that little blue moth on Robert's hat, that's Jeremy. Jeremy hopped onto Roberts hat at the waterfall and stayed there for 2 hours. He even stayed on the hat for the whole hike back to the campsite. We made up many theories and stories about what Jermey's life must be like and why would he want to leave his family at the the waterfall to hitch a ride on a hat. Eventually another blue moth fluttered by and stole Jeremy's heart. It was a very emotional goodbye, he left the hat that day never to return. Goodbye Jeremy live free my friend.