Scott and I had planned on going backpacking with the kids for several weeks. Scott spent three days preparing for our trip and carefully packed and weighed each of the children’s back packs to make sure they would be light enough to carry, but still have everything they would need. Then he divided their tent into three parts, having each of the girls carry a part. I went to the grocery store and bought enough food for three meals for six people that weighed less than fifteen pounds and could be easily reconstituted with water. We packed headlamps, a couple diapers, and swim suits.
Then, on the very last day of school, which was a half-day, we picked up the kids and headed out west. We were going to Eastatoe Falls, a semi-remote campsite in the mountains of South Carolina.
We drove for four hours in the car, and 15 minutes before we were to arrive at the trail head we were battered by rain,
Yes, we saw it fall, not 10 feet from our van. You should have heard the screams in our van! (And just so you know, Erin Newton, I was not one of the screamers.)
Perhaps this was a sign that we should turn back. Or perhaps it was just a stumbling block in our path to adventure! We determined it was the latter and 45 minutes later we arrived at the trail head via a back road.
Once there, there was a sign posted, telling us that the campsite we were headed for was closed because of, ironically, too many fallen trees. Could this be another sign that we were to give up our journey? No! Just another challenge in our quest. We must not give up! Onward!
It wasn’t long, however, before we saw this:
Now the kids, who can unfortunately read, were getting nervous. “Shouldn’t we turn back?” They said. “That is the second warning sign.”
“Nah…” we told them, “they just put up those signs for other people. Not for us.” See what great parents we are?
We directed them to keep moving down the trail, but the joy of backpacking was quickly dimming for our young adventurers and keeping everyone optimistic was getting trickier.
But by the time we passed the THIRD warning sign we reluctantly decided that perhaps we should go back. So with a heavy backpack and even heavier heart we turned around to hike back to the van. The kids were jubilant. Where we would spend the night we didn’t know. It was already 8 pm and soon it would be dark.
After looking unsuccessfully for a different campsite, we finally admitted defeat and began the search for a hotel. It must have been a busy weekend out there in the mountains because it took us stopping at SIX different hotels before we finally found a room in an Econolodge. I grudgingly admit that we probably slept better than we would have if we had been in a restricted campsite surrounded by widow makers. (Or, our case, orphan makers.)
But we still wanted to make it to the falls.
So the next morning we drove back to the trail head, and this time the kids could leave their packs in the car. We walked the 2.7 miles down into the gorge, passed all the warning signs (there were four in all) and down to one of the most lovely places on earth.
Our kids, who had been dragging their feet the night before, complaining and moaning, now practically ran down the path.
It was clear when we arrived that this was not Eastatoe Falls, but the Garden of Eden.
Three cheers for (safe) adventures.
Three cheers for dads who make adventures possible.