My husband and I went on a two-day backpacking trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park over Memorial Day weekend.
I only just went camping last year for the first time—which means I had never done anything more than spending the night in a sleeping bag on my family's screened in porch. And for my first camping trip I went with my husband, his four brothers, and their family dog for two nights in the woods with no access to bathrooms. Needless to say after that introduction to camping everything else seems pretty easy.
This past weekend we did a 13.8 mile loop trail on the North Carolina side of the park. It took about 2.5 hours to drive there, and we headed first to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC. After getting our free backcountry camping permit from the ranger and stamping our National Park passports, we drove to a parking lot near the start of our hike.
The first day we hiked about 5 miles into the campsite and set up our tent. On the second morning, after some Starbucks Via instant coffee and frosted strawberry Pop Tarts, we packed our camping gear back up and hiked about 3 miles with an over 2000-ft. elevation gain to the top of Hemphill Bald, where we ate lunch. Then we hiked the remaining 5 miles back to the parking lot. The car was a welcome sight after all that walking.
I'm not your typical "outdoor girl"—it's always nice for me to come back home to a hot shower, a real toilet, and some makeup—but I never regret our trips. The gorgeous views and finding my inner adventurous spirit are always worth the effort.