I've got to tell you this: I love Carolina North at UNC Chapel Hill. The last time I lived in Chapel Hill I rented an apartment right across the street from Carolina North so I would just run across the street and hop on the Pumpkin Trail for my regular run. The Pumpkin Trail is a local area runner favorite: there are UNC students, community running groups, local area high school cross country runners, neighboring folks out walking their dogs, trail runners, annual Pumpkin Run and Philosopher's Way participants, power walkers, mountain bikers, and all other variety of people.
Out West gets all the fun. Places like California and Utah and Colorado are constantly in the headlines of adventure and outdoor articles. The big name national parks are featured in movies and pictures and lists like “10 Trails You MUST Hike This Summer!” and “5 Lakes That Are Perfect For Camping.” The outdoor community has its epicenter in the great wilds out West, but what about people who don’t live in these places? What about the people on the East Coast?
Mammoth Cave National Park campground was busy, but thankfully not crowded. Kids ran around and shouted gleefully on bikes and scooters and adults sat back in camp chairs swigging beer. I curled up in my hammock and fretted over the next day - whether McCrae and I would be accepted on the wild cave tour or if we’d make it through all the obstacles without getting stuck and (for my part) without having a mental freak-out. There was little information online about the Mammoth Cave Wild Cave tour, a major spelunking trip lasting 6 hours and covering 5 miles underground through some truly wild and rugged paths.
I was about a mile into my hike of Hunt Fish Falls at Wilson’s Creek when I realized something: I wasn’t there for my usual reasons - pain, masochism, exercise, big views - but simply to get away from distractions and process.
Climbing means an intimate knowledge of gravity. My friend Emily S. and I started climbing at the Triangle Rock Club gym in Morrisville, and one bright and early morning before work in an empty gym we played around on the bouldering wall. Fun fact: bouldering is a pain. The guy working the gym desk told us the V0 bouldering routes are about equivalent to 5.8 or 5.9 top rope routes (Emily and I had been sticking to the super beginner friendly 5.5 to 5.7 routes). So the bouldering routes meant a lot of falling. A LOT. And that's hard when you're not used to falling.