Last weekend a friend and I decided to try the primitive camping at ENO River State Park. It's on the north side of Durham, NC. Actually, I few weeks prior I volunteered at a Mountains to Sea Trail workday. We were helping build a new section of the MST in the ENO River State Park. I got two really nice volunteer shirts which I can use on future outdoor trips because they are both polyester blends.
We headed out to the park on Friday morning after a solid visit to the local coffee shop for breakfast. When we got to the park we registered for our campsite and headed out. We had brought a few pieces of firewood with us since the camp sites, though "primitive" had fire rings. When we got there we found they already have a wood pile set-up for all the sites. It was just over a mile to the campsites. They were nice, only five in the area. Each one had a tent pad and a pad with a fire ring and bench. Apparently, in a high traffic state park, primitive camping really just means you have to hike out to the spot and there's an outhouse.
We set up camp so we didn't have to worry about it after we were done hiking. I was going to try out my new ENO hammock (no relation to the park), and headed out on a hike. The campsite was in the western section of the park, near Few's Ford trail. Off of that trail we hoped on the Cox Mountain Trail. That trail looped back to the camping area. We noticed a bunch of people on a trail across the river (Buckquarter Creek Trail) and wanted to check it out. Since we had seen a few possible crossing spots, we decided to cross the river near the campsite instead of walking all the way back to the hanging bridge we crossed earlier in the day.
This turned out to be a mini "trust activity." About 3/4 across the river there were two rocks just far enough away from each other to cause a balance problem. Yes, both of us would have been fine if we got wet, but that's not a challenge. Combining our extensive knowledge of challenge course activities, from years of summer camps and college club outings, we came up with a plan. My friend would cross first and I'd act like a balance for her. This could have been disastrous since I wasn't exactly balanced when she grabbed my hand and stepped forward. Luckily I got myself collected and no one got wet.
Once we were across the river and walking on the next trail we had a debrief of the activity. We both joked that it was a good thing we had a trust activity planned so earlier in the camping trip, now we could really trust the other person. We walked another 4-5 miles on that side of the river before calling it a day. We found an easier section to cross back over a little ways down the path.
At one point on the walk we came to a low hanging branch. I stopped and looked at it. My friend goes, "I was just thinking of doing that...." and then stopped as I put my water bottle down, grabbed the branch, and flipped upside down. "Ok," she said, "I wasn't thinking that. I was going to do a pull-up." I looked at her while still hanging, "Nope, I just wanted to see the world from this angle."
That evening we hung out by the fire and ate dinner. At one point we both commented on the vast amount of acorns that were falling from the trees and yet none had hit either of us yet. Had this fear of getting pelted in the head while I slept, and dealing with ticks the next day, not been looming in my mind, sleeping out under the stars would have been great. Instead, we both retired to our respective outdoor shelters for the night.
My hammock worked great. The only problem is that in the future I need to get the correct tarp for it instead of using my tent rainfly. Needless to say, ENO River is a great little escape for a weekend trip close to Raleigh/Durham.
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