We left home at about 12:30 am. I was armed with a 5 hour energy, some wintergreen lifesavers, and chocolate-peanut butter malted milk balls that were oh so tasty. We somehow crammed 4 backpacks into the trunk of our Chevy Aveo, and myself, my wife Denise, and our friends Tim and Katie into the car. It was a tight fit, but we were on the road.
It was a long and sleepless drive to our destination in Tennessee. We parked the car about 12 hours after we left and readied ourselves for our hike that started out around Abrahms Creek. Tim, Denise and I had gone backpacking twice together before, and Tim and I had gone backpacking in Los Angeles and spent a week in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. Katie, however, was on her first multiple night hike in the mountains.
The first day went really well, despite being exhausted from the drive. We had to ford a river that was up to our knees and it felt like there should have been ice cubes floating downstream. We reached camp early, skipped starting a fire, and just made Ramen using a can of sterno for heat. We were all whooped and in bed by 7:30.
A refreshing twelve hours of sleeping in a small pad in the freezing wilderness, and it was time to move on. Saturday dawned bright and sunny, even if it was really cold to start. The temperature reached the mid sixties by the end of the day. We headed off around 9am with 9 miles to go before we were done. Katie was a little upset that nature somehow conspires to throw long uphill stretches in your path when it’s early. It seems to happen every time. And other than having a toe issue that slowed her down for that last hour, she did great.
Some of the trails that second day were amazing. The first day followed what looked to be an old road, but on Saturday we were picking our way along narrow tracks on the sides of some big hills (in Glacier National Park, they’d be molehills. In Michigan, they are really large mountains. I guess it’s all about perspective.) We also hiked past Abrhams Creek Falls. They were really cool.
We found a busy campsite for the evening and settled in for a big fire and some warm food. We knew that Sunday looked to have thunderstorms in store, so we called an audible and decided to hike out in the morning. The girls would take the quick way out while Tim and I would take the long loop past what we had planned to hike on Sunday and brave the thunderstorm.
The first two hours found us climbing the mountain on Sunday, but we kept up a quick pace. Along some of the ridges, the wind was howling. It huffed and it puffed and it almost blew us off the mountain. Then it started to rain. I had recently purchased a full rainsuit and was actually eager to try it out. It worked great, and good thing too. The sky opened up and dumped on us for the next two hours.
Luckily, when we made it back to the car after knocking out eight miles in just under four hours, the sky cleared up and the sun came out. There was a real bathroom at the campground where we had parked (yay!) and we were able to change and dry off. It was time to head home.
As luck would have it, we heard on the radio that Michigan State had won their basketball game on Friday, and were playing in the Elite Eight in twenty minutes. We found a local Buffalo Wild Wings and stopped by. When we walked in, we were greeted by a sea of orange shirts. Michigan State was playing the University of Tennesse. UT is located in Knoxville, and we were only thirty miles south. That was a fun time! I was the only one cheering when MSU did something great, and I drew a few stares even though I tried to keep it under control. MSU pulled it out, we weren’t assaulted on the way out, and we made it home around three in the morning.
It was a great weekend. Thanks Tim and Katie for joining us!
What a fantastic weekend! Great blog, Aaron. It brought back the memories. Where to go next…
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