I recently got back from a weekend camping in the mountains a few hours north of Atlanta.  The temperature got up to 106 degrees where we live that weekend so I knew that we either had to get out of town or be prepared to not leave the house for days.  Thankfully, we made a good decision and packed up the car and drove north.  Most of the campgrounds that take reservations and are on a lake or river were completely booked so we took the road less traveled and headed to Burrell’s Ford on the Chattooga River.  The challenge with this campground is you have to hike a 1/4 of a mile from the parking lot to the ten campsites which are first come, first serve.  There was a bit of a panic when we got there because there were a lot of cars in the parking lot.  But we got lucky and scored a huge site right on the river.  This was our backyard all weekend.

The trip presented a new challenge for me because I am still learning how to pack lightly when camping (I think I am going to need everything).  Prior to this weekend, all of our camping trips had involved carrying our stuff ten feet from the car to the camping spot, so the minimalist approach needed for backpacking was not an issue until this trip.  But I will do a better job next time and leave totally unnecessary things like the cutting board, chef’s knife, a full set of spices and way too many clothes at home.  My husband was a rock star and made almost all of the trips to and from the car which was no easy feat.

One really nice thing about going for two nights is that you have a full day to do whatever you want without being worn out from the logistics involved in camping.  On Saturday morning we hiked up to King’s Creek Falls which were spectacular.  The trail was lush, green and completely shaded which made it really nice and cool.

On our way to the waterfall

The hike up to the falls was a half mile and fairly tough in a few spots, but my almost three year old was able to hike most of it.  The falls were stunning.  We went again later in the afternoon after our friends arrived.  The water blowing off the falls cooled the air considerably making this spot extremely refreshing after the hike up the trail.

There were a few rough moments but they ended up not really being a big deal.  We had a hard time finding firewood that would actually burn on the first night so I ended up cooking one of the hobo packs I made on the stove in a water filled pan.  Some of the water leaked in after I checked to see if they were done and everything in there tasted pretty bland as a result.  But once the fire did get going, I threw the others in the coals and those turned out pretty tasty but by then we weren’t really hungry anymore.

Hobo pack in the fire

I don’t think one needs to be elaborate with meals when camping.  It can take a lot of time to prep a fancy meal and in my opinion, that is not really what camping should be about.  This spot was so gorgeous that I really wanted to spend my time hanging out in the river and not standing over a hot camping stove or fire.  The hobo packs make things easy though because you just throw them on the campfire and let ’em cook.  A hobo pack is just a foil packet with meat and vegetables in it.  More on that in a future post.

I got a fishing pole (and a fishing license) for next time so we’ll see if I can figure out how to catch some trout in the river.  That would be cool but I may need to bring something for dinner in case that plan does not work out.  These camping adventures are helping me learn to go with the flow and not over plan things because when you are outdoors in the wilderness, things don’t always go as you hope.  But if you make the best of it, camping can be a really great experience.

Why was this the greatest camping trip ever?  We had great friends with us enjoying a spectacular setting.  My son was delighted to run around in the woods until he wore himself out.  The other campers around were quiet and respectful.  The campsites for the most part were very clean and the people who seem to frequent this area are good about removing all traces that they were there.  It was super quiet because no RVs were nearby with their AC running and because the spot we were in was go big, we could not hear the chatter of anyone else.  So for me, this trip was the tranquil escape from the sweltering city that I desperately needed.