Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The 2nd Annual SSPBDTSOCE

The 2nd Annual SSPBDTSOCE
Friday, May 1st, 2009 thru Sunday May 3rd, 2009
Mortimer Campground - Pisgah National Forest, NC

Photos are posted here:

Last year for the first time the SSPBDT organized a camping event that was not just for the men, but also included our wives, significant others, and our rug rats! This event proved to be such a huge success that our planning team elected to make it an annual affair.

While last year’s event was held at the Cherry Hill Campground in Oconee County, SC, we decided that this year we would welcome our woman and children to our long time and favorite SSPBDT Mancation Destination; The Mortimer Campground in the Wilson Creek area of the Pisgah National Forest!

We knew that this campground is fairly small (19 sites), and that they do not take reservations. Therefore, several members of our team volunteered to make the extreme sacrifice and skip work on Friday so we can get there early enough to snag about half the sites in the campground.

Our plan worked perfectly! When Amy and I pulled up at around noonish, we saw that commissioner Steve-O and the Moore’s had already snagged the same area of the campground as the 2008 SSPBDT Mancation. They had put up their tents in the rain, but it stopped just in time for Amy and me to set-up ours.

I noticed several empty FAB cans around the campsite, so I knew it was time to pull out and set-up mobile Mr. Ecology IIII. Since the SSPBDT has gone green, we require that all empty aluminum cylinders of pleasure be recycled. Mr. Ecology IIII is a highly efficient can crushing device utilized to maximize the efficiency of our recycling efforts.

I utilized the Moore’s (Melinda and Scott) who happen to be both the shortest and tallest of the adults to calibrate the proper height for Mr. Ecology IIII. Unfortunately my calibration efforts did not take into consideration that the children would later take a liking to the can crushing process?

After the Martin’s arrived we did some quick mental calculations that determined we would need to snag a few more sites for the latecomers. So we spread out our gear and vehicles to some of the neighboring empty sites.

Once the rain gods got word that I had packed my tent the rain chances for the weekend jumped up to 100%. It has been many years since I last went on a camping trip when we didn’t get rained on. Therefore it was essential that the group get started on the giant tarp erection for the community gathering area.
After about three hours, two racks of ribs, three Engineering Changes, (24) chicken wings, countless FABS, (19) Bungee Cords, and 750-ft of rope the giant tarp erection was up and was definitely a sight to behold! Possibly our most impressive erection ever, but we would have to see how it would hold up to the rain that would certainly come!

Satisfied that our erection would last for the next 48 hours, I decided to show Amy some of the area and we went for a little walk.

An easy 5-minute hike from the campground took us to the very scenic Thorps Creek Falls. I wouldn’t make the trip just for this waterfall, but Thorps Creek Falls is definitely worth the visit if you are in the area.

After that we checked out the Mortimer Graveyard, the Mortimer Country Store, and a small section of Wilson Creek before returning to the gathering area. We arrived back just in time to pop open a FAB and welcome the Rosenburger’s to the Gathering.

The Rosenburger’s arrived at the perfect time. Late enough that the core team would already be set up and willing to help set up their tent and gazebo, but still early enough that we would still be in a condition to actually help!

By now the campground was 100% full and we weren’t sure how long we would be able to hold on to the other spots we were trying to hold for the latecomers. The Ballard’s arrived just in time to back Big Rob’s pop-up into the last spot.

We had (6) of the (8) sites in the upper section of the campground, but were unable to save the one more needed site. Where the heck would we put the Green’s 26-ft camper? We’ll worry about that later, in the meantime lets down a few more FABs

We had been holding off on building a fire as it was kind of warm, the early arrivals did not bring much wood, and we were too lazy to gather any more. Fortunately, Chris brought a nice load of firewood, so I quickly went to work at kicking up the campfire.

No matter where we are, or what we are doing, Amy always likes to go to bed around 10:00pm. The SSPBDTSOCE is no exception, so I tucked her in, did the full bodied inspection for ticks (based on last years lessons learned), and went back to enjoy the festivities while Amy drifted off to sleep.

Shortly after, the Green’s arrive with their camper. Where the heck will we park that thing! We decided on a relatively flat spot at the community site. I was amazed at Alissa’s skill in backing up that wide load!

Then the campground hosts arrived and informed us that we can’t park that thing there. We were informed that campers and RVs need to be on a gravel area. Since there were no more campsites available, I volunteered to share our site. So I moved my truck and rearranged some gear to leave just enough room to back the camper into our site.

Everyone who said they would come was present and accounted for making a total of (21) for the 2nd Annual SSPBDTSOCE:

3 - Jeffery’s
3 - Moore’s
2 - Thyen’s
2- Martin’s
3 - Rosenburger’s
4 - Ballard’s
4 - Green’s

After a Green’s had somewhat settled in, a group of us went on a midnight graveyard tour before I called it a night. Amy got up to go pee when I arrived at the tent and she was very confused about the giant camper that was now located about 4-ft from our tent.

Sometime during the night, a steady rain started falling. Based on our lessons learned brainstorming sessions, all of our sneakers were located inside the tent this time!

The next day!

The giant tarp erection was a bit flaccid in the morning due to a bit of pooling rainwater, but nothing that some good poking couldn’t fix. Using my big stick I poked around and drained the water from the tarp. The erection quickly popped back up to its full glory.

After a nice campfire breakfast, I was ready to get some hiking in. Jeff and Lori wanted to come along with Amy and Me, so I chose a hike that I thought they could handle.

The trailhead for Harper Creek Falls is only a few miles from the campground, and I thought the hike would be appropriate for novice hikers. It is about a 3.5 mile round trip out-and-back hike. There is a climb of a few hundred feet, and a steep scramble to get down to the base. Other than that, it is a pleasant mostly level hike.

Lori and Amy elected not to climb down to the base of Harper Creek Falls and instead elected to enjoy the view from the trail, while Jeff and I scrambled down the very steep slope. The morning rain made the rocks very slick!

After our hike we returned to the campground just in time for lunch. The plans for the afternoon were to do whatever the heck we wanted. Most were planning to head down to the Wilson Creek Gorge for some kayaking, fishing, and hanging out on the rocks. Amy was happy to just hang out at the campground with her book.

I wanted to get another hike in, so I picked out one of the few waterfalls in the area that I had yet to visit. On to Little Lost Cove Falls!

The gate to FR464A was open, but I elected to park at the main road and hike it. I wasn’t sure what condition the road would be in, plus the extra mileage would not hurt. Turns out the road would have been 100% drivable. Still an enjoyable walk with a plethora of wildflowers along the way.

The directions mentioned that the side trail down to the waterfall was very easy to miss, so I was carefully looking and turned off in the direction of falling water on what I thought was the side trail. I actually turned too soon and ended up near the top of the upper falls. I did find a couple of nice smaller cascades, but there was no way to safely get down to the base from where I was.

I ended up backtracking and eventually found the correct trail which took me down to the base of Upper Little Lost Cove Falls. This one turned out to be a beauty! Much nicer than I anticipated. From there I followed the faint side trail down to the base of Lower Little Lost Cove Falls.

The Lower Falls is taller than the Upper Falls, but in my opinion the Upper Falls is nicer and easier to get to. The last stretch down to the Lower Falls was very steep! I would definitely bring Amy back to the Upper Falls sometime, but the trail to the Lower Falls would not be Amy approved.

I still had plenty of time for another short hike. I visited Little Lost Cove Cliffs during the last SSPBDT Mancation and remembered thinking that it would be a beautiful spot when the Rhododendrons are in bloom, so I chose this as my final hike of the day!

I was glad I did, because the Rhododendrons were almost at peak bloom and it was an awesome site to behold. When the rain started falling, I decided it was time to head back.

I returned to the campground and saw absolutely no one from our group. However, there were no vehicles missing. I eventually located Amy napping inside our tent, but we had no idea where the rest of the group was.

Eventually, the entire group emerged from the trail at the backside of the campground. They had all made the short venture to Thorps Creek Falls. They returned from their short hike with several backpacks full of empty FAB cans.

The group dinner plans for the evening would be a Low Country Boil. Shrimp, Corn, Sausages, and Potatoes, boiled together with plenty of tasty seasoning. Chris also brought along a bunch of Chicken which he grilled up on the campfire and brushed with a very spicy Habanero barbeque sauce!

Dinner was delicious and relatively healthy for campfire food! The remainder of the evening was spent laughing and enjoying each others company around the campfire. We went on another midnight graveyard tour for the benefit of anyone that missed Friday night’s tour, and also ventured out in search of “Extreme Darkness”.

The 3/4 full moon had emerged from behind the clouds just in time to put a damper on the extreme darkness experience. Next year we will try to schedule the event around the moon cycle in hopes of 100% Extreme Darkness!

Not sure exactly what time I eventually retired to my tent, but around 3:00am, I got up to pee, looked up and saw a clear sky. Would this be the first time in years that the camping gear is dry when we pack up to head home?

An hour or so later, the rain started falling and by wake-up time some steady rain fall had wet all our camping gear and left the giant tarp erection sagging again. The good news is, except for a little area around the zipper, our tent stayed dry inside.

We managed to roll up the sleeping bags, but there was no use trying to fold up the tent as it would need to be re-assembled to let dry out when we returned home. Packing up wet camping gear is not my favorite experience, but it is one I have grown very accustomed to over the past few years.

I though about getting another short hike in on Sunday Morning, but thought better of it. Amy was ready to head home and since this has become the favorite campground of the SSPBDT I am sure there will be many return trips to the area.

A great time was had by all!

Some photos from the 2nd Annual SSPBDTSOCE can be viewed here:http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/571713750qOjbqW

1 comment:

HemlockMan said...

I really have to take my trailer to Mortimer. Looks like tons of hiking and waterfall wandering to be done there. Beautiful country. I don't know how I've missed going there so far.

Did any of the sites have electric or water hookups? Just curious. I can always bring my generator for the trailer.