Father Son Campouts!

Every year for my birthday my dad and I would go on a weekend backpacking trip. He would always ask me where “I would like to go this year?” The place we went the most often is one charliesbunionof my favorite places on the planet to go. It is a section of the Appalachian Trail, from Newfound gap to Charlie’s Bunion. This section is very well traveled in the summer but in March, which is when we went it is too cold for most people so it was not too crowded. The hike itself is not very difficult as it mostly runs the ridges. We would make reservation to stay at the Ice Water Springs shelter. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park required a backcountry reservation so you will need to call the park 30 days in advance of your trip. These trips were learning experiences and fun times that I will always cherish. We would leave as soon after school as dad could get home from work. We would drive up that night and find a church with a light on. Dad would ask the folks in the church if we could put up a tent behind the church and spend the night talking and getting very little sleep for the anticipation of the next days hike. We would rise early and drive to Gatlinburg and have breakfast, usually pancakes at the Old fashion Pancake House. We would park the car at the Newfound Gap parking lot and hike the 1.9 miles to the Ice Water Springs shelter stopping to have lunch at a precipice overlooking the Oconaluftee valley. Then after a short rest we would leave our stuff in the shelter and hike 1.5 miles to Charlie’s Bunion. We would enjoy the views at Charlie’s Bunion, have a snack and take amazing photos that would make my mom nervous then hike back to the shelter in time for dinner. The weather was always unpredictable in March. I have seen it sunny and clear to over a foot of snow windy. In March you can usually count on it being cold.

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