Saturday, October 28, 2017

Chestnut Mountain Road - Gorges State Park

Adventure is necessary. 

That line is stolen but it is one of my favorite philosophies. It is a theme that comes up frequently in a community that I recently joined, Overland Bound ( They encourage exploration, responsible stewardship of the land, learning new skills, and community. I've traveled deep in the woods for years a lot of different ways - on foot, bike, kayak, packraft. 

Recently, I've been exploring in the Jeep. It has allowed me to learn new skills. I have been able to take Jenny and the kids deep in the woods to see things they wouldn't be able to see otherwise. When I'm exploring with the Jeep I'm able to see the wilderness from a completely different perspective. It's refreshing. 

I took a vacation day this Friday so I could scout trails near Sapphire, NC & Clayton, GA. Poor planning limited me to the first but that turns out to be just fine. There is a forest service road that exits the back side of Gorges State Park in North Carolina that goes over the Horsepasture River and eventually out to the NW side of Lake Jocassee. I stopped at the river campsite this time but plan to go back and explore more. 

The drive out was perfect with 65F temperatures and lots of early color from the Fall leaves.

Endless possibility out there.

Roughly 10 miles back from Gorges State Park to the river

Bridge over the Horsepasture River

The meals from Patagonia Provisions are very good. 
I added a little chicken to the black bean chili. 

Peace & quiet

I love being alone deep in the woods

I don't mind sleeping on the ground. In fact, I look forward to it on most of my trips. 
I have to admit, it is nice knowing I'll be sleeping in the Tepui rooftop tent.

Breakfast by the river (and in the rain)

I cold watch the river play for hours

On the drive home I stopped by the overlook to Upper Whitewater Falls

Stunning beauty here on the East Coast. It reminds me of the falls we saw in Yosemite. 

The forest fires last year destroyed a lot of forest in this area. All of the carpentry for this overlook was destroyed. The replacement step system is well done. Kudos, NC State Parks! 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Jocassee Overland Trip

Kate and I watch overlanding trip with expedition teams like Expedition Overland at bedtime. She decided that we need a name for our trips and picked Expedition Jeep. So with that, here's the latest outing for the Expedition Jeep team. 

We loaded up Saturday morning and got on the road around midday. We routed through Rocky Bottom to Horsepasture Road to Boot Leg Road (both forest service roads). 

Beautiful views as always

Still not a lot of Fall color

I love open gates. This is the gate at Jumping Off Rock leading down to Lake Jocassee

The view from Jumping Off Rock


Still working out the kinks on the setup but really love the system we have so far

Not a bad place to spend an evening

The views are stunning in Lake Jocassee. Photos don't do it justice.

Outside makes kids happy

It makes them super happy

I enjoy cooking in the wild. 

I make a mean chicken pasole

Peaceful sunset

The drive out was foggy. It was a new and beautiful way to see the ridges over Jocassee.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Eastatoe Gorge

Jenny & I took the kids to the Eastatoe Gorge Trail back at the beginning of September. We walked down to the creek to hunt for salamanders and crayfish. After we got back to the Jeep, we went under the bridge to see what it was like to swim in a mountain river. I was a little ashamed to learn that neither my kids or my wife had done that yet. What sort of patriarch am I? 

These two love to get out in the woods. We love taking them. 

The boy & his pack... it's possible that he does not believe in the principals of ultralight hiking.

Famous Kate. Always happy.

Ready for lunch!

Hunting for creek dwellers

You know me and my macro shots

Happiness is simple

There was a lot of stunning color

The Eastatoe narrows. If you're there without little ones, definitely follow the creek down to this spot. It is absolutely beautiful and a really good spot to swim. 

Mason taking a VERY close look at a wooly caterpillar

We were looking for salamanders & crayfish. We scored on both fronts! This guy was treated to a custom made creekside pool after the stresses of being observed.

More and more hunting...

Kate & I had to agree to disagree on whether this was raccoon or red panda prints

I have to admit I was amused by the family's optimism to find a crayfish on command. They found this monster under the first rock they flipped!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Lake Jocassee Family Overnighter - December 30, 2016

The whole family went on an overnight trip to camp at a spot we recently found off of Horsepasture Road on a peninsula of Lake Jocassee. It is remote and beautiful. 

This was Kate & Mason's first time at Jumping Off Rock. I think they were impressed. No one fell to their death so Jenny & I were happy. The low temperatures and high winds made it a short visit. 

We started on Horsepasture Road at Rocky Bottom and drove out to where Bootlegger Road forks off to the right. Bootlegger ends in a dead end near perfect lake beaches that is ideal for a night or two of camping. I can't wait to come back when it's warm enough to swim! 

There are worse ways to spend your time. 

Kate & Mason made their first mission finding the best beach to swim at this summer. 

One of the best things about overlanding is the food. We made Chicken Pasole from a recipe we found at Publix. It would be good at home but it is just fantastic in the backwoods. These meals beat the freeze dried meals I take on backpacking & bikepacking trips by leagues. 

In the winter the dark and cold comes in fast so we moved inside for games and stories. The kids were excited to try out their new sleeping bags. My two favorite moments...

  • Mason waking up in the dead of night to say, "Mommy... where are we?"
  • Kate waking up early in the morning, "Still warm. Yes!"

Dad duties include getting up early to ignore the cold (29F) to make coffee, bacon, eggs & grits. The lack of breeze was welcomed but it was still too cold for my southern blood. 

One of the rewards for being up and out early...

Panoramic view of a perfect mountain beach. 

We stopped back by Jumping Off Rock on the way out. You should be impressed by my ability to balance the phone for family photos. 

If this shot doesn't give you wanderlust, nothing will. Every time I look out over the mountains like this I want to grab my backpack and start walking.