Man Trip

Last weekend the guys from our small group went on a man trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park for three days of hiking and camping. You can read a ton about the trip here, thanks to Alex (and his brother’s hiking blog). It was a fantastic trip, and personally, I really fell in love with the entire camping/hiking experience. Despite being dirty, tired, sore, and sleeping on the ground, the views, the fresh air, the exercise, and the time together with friends were invigorating.

We were able to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail (hey, three miles still counts!) and enjoy the views from Gregory’s Bald. I finally got to put my big backpack to use after purchasing it in China in 2006 (North Face knock-off for about $15), as well as camping pots and pans Lynne’s family had given us. It was fun to see all the gear we were able to piece together from friends, family, garage sales (since only one of us had much experience), and some new stuff of course, but it’s hard not to get swept up in all the amazing backpacking gear that is out there.

Other highlights included a trip on the Tail of the Dragon (quite the winding road), some fantastic camp food thanks to Alex, close encounters with deer, and a black bear sighting! The trail we were planning to hike was closed down this season due to high bear activity, so it’s been an abnormal year for them. We met one couple that had hiked the Smokies for 20 years and never seen one, so we definitely lucked out. I can’t wait to do another trip like this – maybe for an entire week next time!. I learned a lot on this trip that I think I could handle it.

All photos courtesy of Alex (who braved the terrain with his DSLR)

Day 1 – don’t we look like a tough crew?

This was our first camp on the trail, near the top of the mountain. Those deer sure got close!

Tuna pesto pitas for dinner! Really good stuff, especially after a long hike uphill. We were fortunate to find this nice grate at the campsite.

At the top of Gregory‘s Bald (4949 feet).

Gregory’s Bald – what a nice view!

Six men walk into the woods…

The App Trail sign alone made us feel manly.

There’re bears in them thar hills!

Second night in the woods. Thanks to Josh and Josh we always had great fires. This is where we saw the bear.

I was the only one that wanted to go swimming, go figure!

The end of the trip – can you smell us in this picture? And yes, I rocked the sweatband since my hat got quite disgusting. Aren’t I a hipster.

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