Day #3: The Asheville Base Camp
I’m sitting in my tent, nestled in the Hard Times loop of the Lake Powahatan Recreational Area. The campground itself is just a small part of the Bent Creek Experimental Forest project on the edges of Asheville, North Carolina.
The drive east along Interstate 40 and then south along Interstate 26 was breathtaking. I kept shooting pictures, looking at them on the digital screen, and deleting them. There was simply no way to capture the majestic sky-scape, the amazing hills, and the lush mountains. I captured a few images, but the best will be burned only on my hard drive to be lost like "tears in rain."
(The best: a spiral cloud that looks like a tornado of marshmallow, spread across the sky and reaching down to earth. I took photo after photo and the only image that appeared was a small, globby mix of blue and white. I was so saddened, I deleted the pictures and pretended as though I didn’t see it.)
This is a different experience from the KOA in Nashville. There are little in terms of "stuff" in my neck of the woods. There’s no wifi, no Internet, no electricity, no running water, and no just about anything else you would associate with modern convenience. There is a bathroom and a shower, which is nice. And the neighbors seem country-proper neighborly, which means they keep to themselves unless you happen upon them then they are mighty nice and willing to chat with you.
I pulled out the propane stove tonight, a rather modern piece of equipment that I think may have been overkill. I’ll probably end up with a small hiking burner sometime next year, but for now I’ve enjoyed the Coleman. I must say it’s a bit odd having that "big" grill alongside my solo hiking kitchen set and cleaning tools. You can damn near fit the tools in my back pocket.
What’s amazing about this place: the sheer number of mountain bikers, trail runners, and adventure addicts roaming around this place. Tomorrow is my off day — I’d planned on heading into town — but I’m thinking I might throw on my day pack, grab a bunch of food and water, and just set out across the trails. When you enter, you get a massive trail map — there are 27 listed — and it seems a shame to miss them even though part of the reason I came to Asheville was to actually see the city.
Ah, the tradeoffs.
The universe had a little trick for me today as well. My Samsung Moment’s battery decided to die, which leaves me sans-phone except when I’m in the car. (As fate would have it, my car charger broke just before I left Muncie.) The Moment is one of those "unique" phones, which means nobody has a replacement for me. Nobody: not Sprint PCS, not Best Buy, and not the three battery stores I visited today. Three.
I think that’s good for me. I’ll be connected much less, and alone for the first time in a very long time.
Thursday morning, before I head out for Atlanta, I’m taking on the Shut-in Trail, an 18-mile steamroller that runs from the hunting lodge at Mt. Pisgah with the Biltmore Estate. It’s rated on of the most difficult in this area. I’m slated for a 9-mile run, but I suspect I’ll go more. Unless the terrain is so difficult to overcome that I can’t. Certainly I won’t do the whole trail. A 36-mile round-trip is beyond my reach in any universe you can consider; however, I’m going to tackle as much as I can.