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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Park Trail & The Naked Ground Trail -Day 4

Woo, what a crisp morning! Again, a rather rough night as Wilder had his first night in a tent -actually, it was all of our first night in a tent (together, at least.) Wilder chased the dog around the tent and gave us our early wake up call, so out we went to brave the chilly morning and get breakfast going.
Mmmmmm...homemade pancakes! I made a multiple batch with dry ingredients before we left home, so all we had to do was add eggs (eggbeaters, actually,) oil and milk.
This griddle (given to us by Brian's folks -along with a major chunk of our camping gear, including this super handy yellow folding picnic table with built-in seats) cooks up pancakes better than anything I've ever used before.
Delicious! We came up with a breakfast system eventually: Boil water, Brian makes the coffee, I mix up the pancakes and get them ready to go, once coffee is about ready I put the pancakes on, Brian makes one big plate of pancakes and feeds both Wilder and I as I continue cooking them up on the griddle while we enjoy our fresh coffee. We even heat the syrup and the butter in camp cups on the griddle for easy pouring! Fun stuff.
Looking up towards camp from one of the several trails leading to the Little Santeetlah River that borders our site.
Where we called home.
Master wood harvester.
Laundry Line Lounger.
One of the best spots to take a dip into the freezing creek. It was awesome and became a daily ritual (and necessity.)

At the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Trail head. The trail consists of two loops, one lower, one upper. Throughout is a pristine trail which surrounds you with tripping little creeks and mini-waterfalls, massive trees and an endless carpet of spring flowers in all their glory.

Rhododendrons fill the forest, their broad leaves and rich green giving it the appearance of a tropical paradise.

A fellow nature enthusiast said this was a Toadstool Trilliam. A beautiful, rich burgandy.

Trees that looked as though they were about to walk around this enchanted place.
This tree is growing sideways out of the fallen log, nutrient rich from decomposition and the fallen leaves.

This marks the center of the figure 8 created by the upper and lower trails. As we walked to this spot we heard a Native flute lulling out a tune. It was a nature lover (wearing kokopelli earrings, to boot) most likely summoning or paying hommage to the Cherokee spirits. Or trying to enchant the fairies so they gave up their hiding spots.

Picture perfect.

A popular carving tree, covered in initials as far as one can reach.
Let sleeping babies lie, or bounce around in a child carrier.
Field of trilliams.
Dwarf Iris
A log with a sense of humor. I like it.
Tada! Next stop, the circus!
More trilliam
The Nake Ground Trail we happened upon towards the end of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Loop. We read a posted information flier that stated the JKNF had over 80 miles of trails, but they had only listed the Memorial Loop. We were curious to find the other trailheads, so when we found this one, we just had to see where it lead.
Under, NOT over.
Bluets -very much like the Alaska State Flower, the Forget-Me-Not. They became my favorite find on the trails.
About 35 minutes into this trail (after hiking the 2 mile double loop previously) we stopped at a remote backpackers campsite to refuel and let Wilder run.
He's a big fan of Poweraide.

On the way back I snapped a shot of the trailhead divider. We went up Naked Ground Trail #55. To the left going down is Naked Ground Trail #55A. We saved that for the next day.

Hooray for hiking!
We got back to our car and, wouldn't you know, the battery was completely dead. We got a jump start from a nice couple from Georgia and then headed to Robbinsville, the nearest real town, about 20 minutes away. A guy with a lit cigarette hanging from his lips hovered over our battery as he assessed the situation. With great politeness and efficiency he and several other mechanics got a fresh battery in and the car up and running like new. They didn't even charge for their labor and it was just minutes from closing time. Very nice folks.

Back at camp, Wilder was fascinated with Brian's water bottle, constantly seeking assistance with screwing and unscrewing the cap.

Bedtime for Bonzo, Wilder drinks his milk while we warm ourselves at the fire.
This is what camping's all about.
Ingenious! Brian put a ChemLit (glowstick) in the water bottle and Wilder had a blast rattling it around. Finally, it was time for bed and we all settled in for a relatively good sleep with Wilder getting used to all sleeping together and us old folks getting used to the painfully hard ground. Ahhh....camping :)


Roccy said...

This post is awesome. Y'all are awesome.

(P.S. the kids and I camped the other night - in our backyard. Does that count? I heard coyotes yipping all night long, so it's gotta count, right?)

Kelly Cameron said...

Totally -camping in the yard counts! At least it's practice! I am SOOOO overdue in responding about our tent -it's a Cumberland, one of the Timber Creek 4 man versions. It's nothing fancy -we're pretty new at this camping thing. But after this trip we are serious about our preparedness and going on many, many more -soon!

Wow, coyotes at night?! That's more wildlife than we ever heard while we were out in the "real" wilderness! I saw bear scat on our super long hike (yet to be posted) and saw a few squirrels and chipmunks, a couple birds and some frogs. But that's it. Oh, and a gopher -but that was on the drive in.

Way to get your camping on, RoccsMama.


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