This past Sunday my wife and I took the drive up to Hanging Rock State Park, about 2.25 hours from Raleigh. We arrived mid-morning and after checking out the Visitor’s Center, we hiked three of the waterfalls. These were short hikes from the main parking lot that offered some great views and allowed us to get in the mood to scramble around the mountain.
23 years ago Matt Foley (Chris Farley) attempted to warn teenagers about how life choices can lead to living in a van down by the river. When he asked if they wanted to live in a van down by the river there was a group in the audiences who said, “wait that’s an option?” Like Christina Applegate, they found the idea of nomadic living appealing. So they packed up their climbing gear, kayaks, running shoes, backpacks, and camp stoves. Then loaded it all into vans, RVs, and campers and set out to establish a non-traditional life.
Currently I am in the planning stages of introducing my wife to backpacking. She loves hiking but has never been camping. So now I’m attempting to devise the perfect backpacking trip as an introduction. A trip where everything goes exactly right is basically impossible, especially since the definition of adventure is “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.”
Looking at my last backpacking trip, what stands out in those memories beyond the time spent with my friends, is the scene of thunderheads coming up river towards our camp and being driven from my hammock to spend the night snuggled up with my dog in an attempt to stay warm and dry.
Most people have recommended that I start with a simple car camping trip, but that is like comparing riding Splash Mountain to running the Colorado River. The real experience is walking in, setting up, and making do with what you carried in on your back. So picking somewhere where I think I can control the variables is important.
For that reason I’m going with somewhere I’m fairly familiar with, Uwharrie National Forest. I have previously run Uwharrie Mountain Run there twice along with a few training runs so I feel fairly comfortable there. I know there are several great spots along streams that are flat and provide great campsites.
All that I am waiting for is a weekend where we are not busy and the weather cooperates. Then the adventure is on! Now I do not want it to come across as if my wife is high maintenance, which is far from the truth. In reality, it is my own neuroticism that wants it to be perfect. It’s like when you show someone your favorite movie and you keep looking at their face to see if they are enjoying it for the same reasons you love it. I think this is a common feeling as you attempt to share a passion with someone. I think part of it is an attempt to relive that first time again vicariously through your partner.
Hopefully this all works out as I want to start planning bigger backpacking trips for us so we can start exploring our National Parks. Whenever this introductory trip happens I will be sure to share the trip report here.
Have you introduced a partner to one of your passions? How did it go? What suggestions do you have? Please comment below, and any advice would be much appreciated.
UPDATE: Paul’s Boots has started their journey on the Appalachian Trail!
This past Sunday my wife and I dedicated the day to fun and adventure. After eating breakfast, we loaded our kayaks into the truck and drove to the Eno River Boat Ramp in Durham, North Carolina. It was a beautiful morning with a light chill in the air so the boat ramp was busy with fishermen putting their boats into the river.
We unloaded our kayaks and slipped into the river. At first, I found the scenery a bit dull as we have had a lot of rain this winter, which caused the river to spill across the floodplain and washed the surrounding vegetation in mud. As we paddled past the fishermen in their boats we found ourselves drifting into more solitude. We began picking out unique looking trees and 100-year-old oak trees as we toured a small section of the river.
Following our 6-mile round trip paddle, we drove to the town of Hillsborough for some beers and barbecue. We saddled up to the bar at Mystery Brewing Public House to begin sampling their tasty gluten sodas and ordered lunch from Hillsborough BBQ Company. This is one of the best combinations in the Triangle and I recommend if anyone happens to be out around Hillsborough to check both out.
After stuffing ourselves with barbecue, we headed out to Occoneechee Mountain Natural Area for a hike. We pulled into the small, overflowing parking lot only to be greeted by raindrops. While another couple turned back from the trailhead we figured we would march on and hope the rain would quickly pass. Fortunately, the rain only lasted for 10-15 minutes, just doing enough to make the air humid. It was a nice loop that went down along the Eno River then climbed up an old rock quarry to give us a great view of Hillsborough.
After the hike, we finished the day with a stop at YesterYears Brewery in Carrboro. Then we headed home to unload the truck and feed the dogs.
The thing is while our adventure was nothing groundbreaking it was a nice day outside. It was a day where my significant other and I got to connect and spend the day seeing new places. An adventure does not have to be a speed ascent of Denali or paddling a source to sea on the Amazon. It is important to make these small adventures part of our busy lives. If you are outside, experiencing things for the first time or in a new way then you are having an adventure. What is better than making new stories with friends or loved ones? Not much in the grand scheme of this singular life.
As of lately I have been working on building and improving my Instagram presence. A big piece of this is being more active and taking the time to photograph my runs and hikes. Taking pictures expressly for social media is nothing new for me, but now it definitely feels less like I am recording an event and more like I am competing for “Likes”.
So I decided to make a list of Pros and Cons and see if I may find some revelation on the good or evil of Instagram.
Look how much fun my friend Terry is having with my Instagram habit
- My desire to find interesting photographs or a unique way to frame the sunrise has made me much more aware of my surroundings. I have been running the same trails for years now but I’m starting to appreciate different features, textures and patterns that I have previously run past over and over.
- I am always looking for somewhere new to go. This is not something new for me, but now I am focusing on the photos I will take.
- Hopefully, my pictures are inspiring people to get out and explore the world around them. Whether it is planning an epic trip to a national park or just walking around the forest behind their house.
- I’m not as present with my running partners in conversation. As my mind begins to focus on finding a great shot, I lose touch with the conversation.
- The trip becomes more about the photo documentation than the experience. I am not saying that I lose everything about the experience but taking an epic picture is beginning to dominate the experience.
- My trips are losing spontaneity as I become more focused on getting to the perfect photo opportunity. While this is not the worst thing it is curbing my chance at self-discovery.
So is Instagram good or bad. It’s neither, like a finely crafted beer, it is something that should be enjoyed with moderation. Some days I probably obsess over it too much, while others I hardly notice it. Going forward, I should endeavour to be more present in the moment while also appreciating the beauty around me.
For some more fun information on Instagram, check out this video “Instagram Husbands”
I’ve also recently wrote about putting mileage into context on my running blog “The Distance and the Pain”, so check that out.