Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Seventh Anniversary Celebration : Cloudland Canyon - Day 1

Craig and I aren't much for celebrating anniversaries - we never have been. We don't give gifts or go to dinner or do lovey-dovey things. Why? Well, our thought is that you should show your love every day and make your spouse feel special even on days that don't mean anything to you or anyone else {ahem, Valentine's Day}. So we just don't. However, when given the opportunity to take a trip somewhere, we are going to take it. And if that means saying it's an anniversary trip then - happy anniversary babe! :)

Before even moving to Georgia, Craig found some information on Cloudland Canyon State Park and knew it was a place he wanted go camping. It is located on the western rim of Lookout Mountain and straddles a deep gorge cut by Sitton Gulch Creek. I am going to use the term "creek" because that is it's name but that shouldn't be taken literally. Otherwise, it is the biggest creek I have ever seen. Once we moved here, we decided to explore it in the fall when the leaves would be changing and the weather would be perfect. Our anniversary is in October so it fit perfectly. Nothing is more romantic that roughing it in a tent for a couple of days, right?

After lining up Craig's sister to stay with Canon for the weekend, we headed out of town. Craig mentioned that ever since we set the date, he has been driving past the exit that we would be taking and counting down the days until he could make that turn. That seemed significant enough for a picture.

Two hours north of our home we finally arrived. We had come a little early in the hopes of picking a camp site before check-in time, and I am so glad we did!

We walked through several sites with a few criteria in mind. We wanted to be pretty close to the car since we had packed a few creature comforts that we didn't want to haul a long way. We also wanted to be fairly close to the convenience station where the restrooms and fresh water were located. Lastly, we wanted a site that didn't look or feel like we had neighbors for miles. Seems like an impossible task, right? Wrong. We found the perfect spot. I probably shouldn't even share it since everyone will want it now, but here goes.

That's right. Site 29 had it all and it backed up to a small creek that we could hear running. Talk about peaceful!

As I stated previously, we didn't exact pack light. Though as we came to find out after families began arriving, we were basically backpacking. Holy cow, they brought so much stuff it looked as if we were hardcore wilderness junkies, living off-grid, and ready to bolt in 3 seconds flat.

Each site came with a picnic table, fire pit, and raised tent platform. Smooth, level ground to sleep on? Yes, please.

Ever the preparedness freak, Craig brought a machete. It just screams "Don't mess me with me and my camp!" though I suspect he had more practical uses in mind, like say, chopping tree limbs for fire kindling. Eh, I like my thought better.

After unpacking and setting up camp, we headed down to the creek for some lunch. From what we could tell, our camp site was the only one with easy access to the water so it was a jewel of a find!

After lunch, we decided to take an easy hike during the afternoon so that we could ensure being back to camp before sun down. My mother had been nice enough to let me borrow some boots for the trip since I thought it may be the best thing for hiking {and since my tennis shoes have lost their soles due to our previous hiking expeditions}. About 12 steps into our walk {not even kidding}, the sole came off of this boot too. Apparently, I am extremely hard on shoes while hiking.

Thankfully, she had also sent me some tennis shoes, which I decided to bring on the trip - just in case. One quick shoe change later and we were finally on our way. For the record, yes, I will be getting some real hiking boots soon! 

We decided to take the West Rim Loop Trail since it was a 4 mile hike. A good little jaunt to get our blood flowing, but not so long that we couldn't make it back before loss of sunlight. This particular trail is marked with yellow blazes and someone had written a deep thought by Jack Handy for hikers on this one. The same could be said for life, too!

We followed the trail up the mountain and around the outer edge so that we had a gorgeous view of the canyon below.

We also caught a glimpse of Pac-Man at work.

We had to forge rivers and scale embankments. It all sounds so impressive until you see what they looked like. Don't get me wrong, the rocks were slippery when wet and they were not all stable so you still had to be careful, but no trekking poles were needed in the crossing of this creek. For the record, no this is not Sitton Gulch Creek.

After our nice, refreshing hike we came back ready to eat. We brought teriyaki-marinated salmon and fresh veggies to cook over the fire for dinner. Amazing! Apparently, I enjoyed it so much that I didn't even take a picture. I know, I can't believe it either.

We then settled in for our first night of camping. Well, my first night ever. No, I had NEVER been camping before in my life. I'll admit, I was nervous, but it helped knowing that Craig had so much experience and knew what he was doing. Without him there, I would have been sleeping under the stars {as in no tent} and freezing my behind off without a fire. Or I would have just been at the nearest Holiday Inn. But then, I would have never experienced this sight.

Boy, am I glad he was there.

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