This was my first time carrying a backpack into the wild and spending the night. I mean, I've camped, but never in the back country. We set out towards Wilson's Creek which is part of the Pisgah National Forest. Within it, multiple trails await with one of our favorites being the Harper's Creek Trail.
We arrived about 2pm on a Saturday in late February. It was chilly, but once we got moving up the Harper's Creek Trail we worked up a sweat, however. It's a straight up climb for about the first 1/2 mile. We continued along the most common campsites and kept going further and further away from any human being. The Harper's Creek trail in itself is surrounded by other trails, and many of them are unmarked so I suggest bringing a GOOD map with you...and even with that, it's still tricky.
Our intentions were to follow the Harper's Creek trail all around in a loop. I can't tell you with 100% certainty if that is what we really did. The most I can say is we hiked between 10-15 miles in 24 hours. It was strenuous, and I pushed myself harder than I've ever pushed myself, and I was dead exhausted at the end. Caroline the dog had no issues. She's a trooper.
If I could guess from this map: https://www.hikewnc.info/trails/wilson-creek/harper-creek, I'd say we camped at the south Harper's Creek Falls...but like I said, I did a horrible job at keeping up with the location on this one.
Right beside the water is where we camped (after a few pretty rough river crossings). We found a great campsite, with a fire-pit already intact, and set up shop for the night.
As nightfall fell upon us, it became very cold. We cooked hot dogs for dinner by the fire, and ate a sub we bought before, and lots of yummy snacks. As we awakened with the sun, freezing, we started up the fire again, and brought the morning in tucked inside our hammocks with Caroline lying near by.
A few warmer hours later, we packed up, and begin the hike out. This is where we may have gotten turned around, as I said before. We had to cross difficult rivers, up huge hills, through some woods, down a dirt road, and again and again. We ate some lunch, goofed off a little, and finally got down to business as the sun was dropping again, and we needed to go home (it was Sunday! We have to work!). So we picked up the pace and moved our legs a little faster.
When we finally reached the car, I was almost crawling with pain. My feet, legs, and whole body was aching from one of the most strenuous hikes I've ever done. Excited about eating, and a shower, we drove out and began the 2-hour drive home. Will I do it again? Duh. This is just conditioning.
So stay tuned for more. :)
P.S. Here's another link that may be a handy information tool: https://www.wncwaterfalls.info/waterfall/205/Harper_Creek_Falls