Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Deluge and the Ascent

 Jordan and I went camping on Friday night.  Despite the fact that it was raining and had been storming.  We went to Pilot Mountain, with plans to climb the next morning.  Pilot Mountain is impressive at any time, but particularly so with glowing skies and storm clouds behind it. 

Let me just say now that my parents did teach me how to camp.  They took me hiking when I was six days old and camping when I was six weeks.  I have been doing this all of my life.  But, never without them.  This was our first solo trip.  Mistakes were made.  Like, no canopy.  We ended up rigging the tarp we had intended to use under our tent as a canopy over the picnic table.  We rigged this in the rain as it was starting to get dark.  We also had no lantern.  It was really dark.  Finally, we had no sleeping pad.  The ground is really hard.  Our tent was on its maiden voyage.  My parents had bought it for us a while back, and I actually like it.  I call it the sarcophagus.  It is coffin-shaped and narrow--it sleeps us both, but that is it.  It actually isn't as claustrophobic as I had feared and is actually pretty comfortable.

We couldn't get a fire going.  If you bring "strike-on-box" matches, you need, uh, the box.  I didn't bring it.  We had one of those long fire starters but it was almost out of fuel.  The campground provided free firewood (yay!) but it was wet (boo).  Jordan struggled for at least an hour to get a fire going.  I had even brought dryer lint, but we went through that and every scrap of paper in his car without any success.  Finally, we ate cold chili beans and went to bed.

At about 1:00 am, we heard rustling outside.  We had forgotten to put up the bag that had our food in it.  My first thought was, "squirrel."  Jordan's first thought was "bear."  When we got up to inspect, we found that our visitor was actually a raccoon, who was no-longer in sight, but had left his distinctive five-toed print.  He had also made off with a gallon-size ziploc bag with cornbread muffins in it.

 Everything was much more cheerful in the morning.  The sun came out.  We got our Coleman grill working and had scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.

 We checked out the damage Jordan had done pulling out of the muddy parking lot when we picked up our wood.  The tires were caked with mud and there was a rut at least six inches deep left in the lot.

 The view from the parking lot at the summit is pretty great.  You can see all the way to Winston-Salem.

 We climbed in an area near Three Bears Gulley.  Each of the routes is named (which I find fascinating) and we worked on Papa Bear and Mamma Bear.  I don't have any pictures of the actual climbing because it would be really hard (and dangerous) to take pictures while trying to belay someone, but trust me, we did it. 

The weekend was definitely a learning experience--some things that should already be understood.  Like, rain is wet and unpleasant.  The ground is hard.  It gets dark at night.  But we survived.  And will probably do it again.

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