After last year, I wasn’t sure Meg would want to try backpacking again for awhile, but late last summer, it came up again and she seemed interested. Since then, every once and awhile, she framed it as “when we go back to Bell Mountain next year,” so it appeared that she had forgotten the serious amount of crying she did a year ago…
We had a limited window to pull this off, as I’m doing summer classes again starting in early June, and importantly, Calvin will be home for most of the summer, making it difficult to make a trip like this. Combine this with the fact that the high temp is in the low-90s for the next week, we opted to do a one-night trip down on a Tuesday when the high was 83 F and the low was 60 F.
It rained the day before, so by the time we got down there (four hour drive…), it was pretty moist along the trail.
Taking a step back, I should also note that we learned a fair bit about the trail and opted to start from a different location. Last year when we did this, we parked at the southwestern end of the loop and had to hike uphill along a rocky creek bed…and infamously, we missed the turn and went the wrong way. This time, we parked at the northeastern lot and had a much easier time. The trail in was mostly flat, though, again, somewhat muddy from the rain the day before.
We took a left first to head up to the Bell Mountain peak to get some pictures, then turned around and headed down to the creek we never found last year. When we got there, we found plenty of water to make our evening run far more smoothly than last year! We did about 5.4 mi that first day.
It was pretty easy to entertain Meg at this site. She waded across the creek with her sandals on a few times, threw some rocks, drew some sketches in her notebook, and filtered some water for me. That latter part was of particular interest, so she made us keep hydrated so she could filter more water.
The site was perfect, of course. The creek was next to a permanent fire pit and in a semi-open area that was flat and cleared for tents. Again, this is where we wanted to go last year, but never made it. I’m pretty sure Meg would have enjoyed last year quite a bit more had we actually found it…
We had macaroni and cheese (again) that night and, having the water source nearby, it was easy to do dishes with plenty of water, making the cooking experience more efficient than last year. I couldn’t get a fire going because the wood was so wet, so we ended up playing card games in the tents. Crazy Eights, Go Fish and Memory were the choices, and I’m pretty sure Meg won them all. It was pretty hot still, as it didn’t cool off into the 60s until after midnight. We stayed up until 9:00ish and fell asleep quickly after that.
The next day, we packed up quickly and made it back to the car around 10:00. It was about 3.5 mi or so and Meg didn’t start flagging until toward the end of it. The drive back was mostly uneventful and we made it back to Marshall by mid-afternoon, plenty of time to air things out and grab showers.
It was a great trip! Two nights may have been better, but one night was plenty. Perhaps next year we’ll try somewhere else!