There we were at a KOA in Greensboro, NC visiting a city that, when we moved to Raleigh two years ago, I had first believed to be a drive-thru city . Every year during Christmas we drove past the town and from the expressway there wasn’t much to see, but after our third trip we’ve been surprised by it’s diversity and personality.
Originally, Michelle and I had planned a camping trip to Morrow Mountain State Park, but the forecast predicted rain. After suffering through rain on our last adventure to Umstead State Park, we were not in the mood for foul weather. This left us with dilemma: What were we supposed to do this weekend? Should we just have a quiet weekend at the apartment? Both Michelle and I had set our hearts on an adventure and our feet were itching to explore new terrain, but where would we go?
A short Google search revealed a newly opened KOA in Greensboro running a special on their cabins for the weekend. Another Google search imparted knowledge about a very extensive and well-maintained mountain bike trail system in the Greensboro area. A cabin to protect us from the rain and singletrack to ride quickly addressed the question (or as Pete from the League would say, “It is decided.”) We were heading to Greensboro, NC.
Friday night arrived and we quickly loaded the adventure mobile with clothes, food, grill, cards, and our mountain bikes and hit the road. Naturally, neither Michelle nor I spent any time packing the night before so we were hurrying to pack Friday afternoon before leaving. This resulted in us leaving during peak rush hour traffic, but a hastily called audible by Google Maps rerouted us and an hour-n-half later we had safely arrived at our destination.
During our drive and while unpacking the car we had some light rain which made us extremely grateful for our cabin (pitching a tent in the rain drains the fun from any camping experience). After unpacking and cooking dinner we holed up in the cabin for the remainder of the night. We were pondering what card game to play when I decided to pull out a small Hiking notebook and asked if she wanted to fill it out.
Naturally, Michelle was as excited as I was to start filling the pages with recounts of our numerous adventures, but first we needed to establish some ground rules. What qualities did an adventure need to fulfill to be worthy of documenting? Turns out that it is a pretty short list.
- The hike or mountain bike ride had to be a destination location. In other words, day trips to Jordan Lake didn’t count (so Athena’s Adventure to New Hope didn’t make the cut).
- It had to be an adventure that involved being outside with mountains, forests, and lakes. So any trips to the city were not entering the pages.
- The trip likely involved a combination of hiking, biking, camping, or campfires.
Like I said, it was a pretty short list.
Then we sat down and started letting the memories overflow. I was amazed at our ability to recollect random tidbits of each trip without access to old photos. We started by documenting one of our first day hike trips to Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. This park was a saving grace to our time living in Illinois. After remembering the first trip, a floodgate was opened as we penned memory to page about an Easter weekend getaway (2014) to Shawnee National Forest, our last major trip before leaving IL. Then we were flooded with memories about our first trip to the Smokey Mountains as we stayed in Gatlinburg, TN in the Fall of 2015. This was where we bought our first hiking boots and witnessed the beauty of the Smokey’s in the Fall.
Next thing we knew, we were in the Spring of 2016 visiting the Eno River Mountain State Park near Durham, NC. Here we learned a valuable vocabulary lesson for the phrases ‘hiking’ and ‘walking in the woods’ and their true meanings in North Carolina. Then we were wincing in agony as we both remembered the scorching heat of a North Carolina summer roasting us on our first tent camping expedition in mid-July. We had decided to camp at Pilot Mountain State Park and though the views were beautiful, the temperature was far from ideal as each day hit the 90s.
After some gear upgrades, we again tackled a summer camping excursion by visiting the Ledges of the Neuse (which we later renamed the Scorch Trails, a name given after discovering fire ants carpeting the forest floor). Next, we were off to Ferguson, NC to attend a friends wedding where we found a cabin nested in the mountains on a horse farm. This was also our first mountain biking destination trip as we drove to Boone, NC and rode the Rocky Knob trail system.
Soon the summer of 2016 reached its end and the Fall began bringing a new set of adventures that started with a return trip to the Smokey Mountains in early October. This time we went to Bryson City, NC to ride Tsali and knock a top NC mountain bike trail from my trail bucket list. After that we experimented with our gear’s ability to withstand the cold on a camping trip to Falls Lake, where even Athena was so chilled at night she had to crawl into my sleeping bag to stay warm.
This marked the end of our 2016 camping and hiking adventures, but we would soon be back out in the woods as an abnormally warm winter awaited NC. January began with a day hiking trip to Occoneechee Mountain (a foggy day that concluded with famous NC BBQ). In February, we would be blessed with a weekend of sun and temperatures in the 70’s warranting a Birthday camping adventure! Alas, this brought us to our most recent adventure of camping in the city at Umstead State Park: a trip plagued by rain.
Umstead was our last camping adventure in March and marked the final entry in our hiking notebook, until we document our Greensboro adventure that is. Filling the pages of our notebook revealed that since our move to NC we have been averaging at least one hiking/biking/camping adventure a month. A trend that we plan to continue over the course of 2017.
Part II of our Greensboro Adventure and our experiences out on the mountain bike trails can be found here.
Post written in response to:
Tuesday Photo Challenge: Travel
Daily Post Photo Challenge: Reflecting
Daily Post Word Prompt: Collaboration