Over Memorial Day weekend this year my boyfriend and I wanted to go camping/hiking somewhere close by. Lucky for us there are some great Appalachian trail heads that begin just a few hours north from us, so we packed up our hiking gear and headed to Franklin, North Carolina.
It was one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever had. I love being in nature, so two full days of hiking in the Appalachians surrounded by breath-taking views was heaven for me. It was also memorable because I got to share it with Cody, and the time we spent together was precious to me. We planned it kind of spur-of-the-moment the night before, and found a cute little cottage to stay at for one night. This place was the definition of CUTE. Our “Little Rustic Cabin” was owned by an elderly couple who rented out fully furnished tiny homes on their property for people like us, who were just looking for a place to stay for a night or two. Fun fact about me is that I am *obsessed* with tiny homes, and want nothing more than to live in one in the country one day. Well, I found my dream home on this trip, because I did not want to leave this cabin! It had a full kitchen, bathroom with toilet/shower, bedroom, back porch with rocking chairs that overlooked the rolling landscapes and mountains.
Enough of the cottage though, back to the hiking! On Day 1 we hiked to a peak called “Siler Bald.” We got multiple recommendations from some locals that it was a must-see view. The trail there had winding switch-backs through the forest, and ended at a *very* steep incline leading up to the Siler Bald Peak and well, our sources were right, it was spectacular! We rolled out a picnic blanket, ate some protein/power bars and just relaxed at the top for awhile. It was one of those moments when you’re sweating, your muscles are tired, you’re hot, thirsty, hungry, and all of a sudden you get to the top, what you had just been working towards for the past 2 hours and you think “this was so worth it!”
Healthy eating tip:
I know it may seem hard to eat healthy while on a camping trip, but it is possible! Food can be a little tricker because you can’t bring perishables with you, but with a little bit of planning ahead I was able to pack healthy and nutritious meals. We brought with us whole wheat bread, lettuce, tomatoes and low-sodium tuna to make sandwiches. I knew I could count on packaged tuna to not go bad until opened, so it was a good item to bring for healthy protein. We also packed a bunch of vegetables such as baby carrots and green beans for snacking. For healthy fats we brought a big jar of almond butter that we ate liberally (hiking burns a ton of calories, so you need to re-fuel often!). I also packed some healthy protein bars. So with a little bit of planning I was able to make meals of healthy proteins, carbs, fats, and vegetables all day while hiking!
We went to the store and cooked dinner together that night back at our cottage. We made brats, corn on the cob, oven roasted potatoes, and enjoyed it all with a few beers. We spent the evening relaxing together in the cottage watching some History Channel documentary about a crew of marine scientists trying to find proof of a living Megalodon shark. It was hilarious, and after all the strenuous exercise we did during the day, and the delicious meal we had cooked and ate, we slept like babies that night.
Day 2 we decided to see a peak called “Picken’s Nose” – it was highly recommended once again. We didn’t so much hike to this trail head as we drove to it – see, to get to it you pretty much need to drive up this mountain at a 50 degree angle for 40 minutes before you even get to the trail head! Once you’re there the climb itself is relatively easy to get to the “nose” of this point. It honestly felt like cheating a bit, but I couldn’t care less about that once I saw the view at the top! After winding through a very cool tunnel of twisted bark and trees you get to an opening in the cliff and see nothing but mountains and rolling hills/valleys laid out before you. It was honestly the most breath-taking view I’ve ever seen in my life (yet!).
We took turns getting each others’ photos out on the cliff-side, and managed to find some fellow-hikers on the trail to take our photo together. I also couldn’t resist taking a “joke” photo that looked like I was falling off the edge. My family may or may not have gotten that one as a gag! After a thorough photo-shoot we explored the remaining vantage points along the trail and then just settled down at one of them to look for awhile. I wanted to stay there forever; I felt like I was on top of the world.
After getting back to the car from this hike we decided to head back home to Atlanta. After two long days of serious hiking I wasn’t sure my muscles could take any more exercise anyway! On our way down the mountain we noticed one last sign for a trail though: “Laura Falls.” We looked at each other and just knew we had to stop! We saw a few smaller waterfalls on our hiking so far, but after seeing that sign we both knew we wanted to see a “big” one before the trip was over. So we pulled the car off to the side of the road and headed down the trail towards the falls! The main falls weren’t that far in, and they weren’t enormous by any means, but the journey to see them still became a fantastic memory for what happened once we got there.
We looked at the waterfall together, as rushing water came pouring over a set of rocks and into a pool below. Cody looked at me, I looked at him. “If I jump in, would you?” he asked. Now, something you have to understand about me and Cody, is that we kind of have a running “bet” or agreement with each other, that if one of us jumps into a pool/fountain/pond/lake of any sort the other person has to do it. Every relationship has a set of those weird, quirky inside jokes, that only you and the other person get. Well, this was one of ours. Which is why I started grinning because I could see the look in his eye, and I just knew he was going to jump in, therefore I had to jump in. Though it was May in North Carolina, it had been cloudy all day, and we were pretty high up in the mountains, therefore this water was NOT warm by any stretch of the imagination – and we both knew it. “Well, if you do it… I’ll do it.” I said with a smirk, knowing that this trip to see a waterfall was about to end with us walking soaking wet back to the car.
Well, knowing us what else can I say? He jumped in, I jumped in, one of those events has lots of pictures for proof, and the other has a video. It was FREEZING cold, but so worth it. It was the last memory of our trip and I’m so glad we did it. We walked back to the car dripping wet, holding hands, and laughing all the way.
The drive home was quiet. I could see the mountains in our rear-view mirror and I felt sad to be leaving them. We stopped at a small town on the way for some burgers and made it into Atlanta in the early evening. So once again, it was a very memorable trip. Everything about it was perfect, from the views we saw, the adorable little cottage we stayed at, the hiking and exercise we did together, etc. Anyone looking for some great hiking should check Franklin, NC out. It’s a trip I’ll never forget!