Every year, my friend Elizabeth and a small group of her friends from college get together and go backpacking through the beautiful Nantahala Forest in North Carolina. They pack up all of their camping gear (ENO hammocks, hiking boots, tents, Chaco sandals, JetBoil stoves, dehydrated food, and clothing) and head out into the woods in search of a perfect "home away from home" in Panthertown Valley. I was an extremely lucky gal and received an invitation from Elizabeth to join their camp this year- and I'm so glad I did!
Upon entering the forest and hiking downhill for a few miles, you're greeted by your first waterfall (at least from the trailhead we used)-- Schoolhouse Falls!
As soon as we found our campsite, we pitched the tents, hung the hammocks and gear, and began to make dinner.
The next day, we set out for the waterfalls. Both Tennessee and North Carolina have an insane amount of beautiful waterfalls! Panthertown Valley has about 10 or so, all accessible and connected by trail, or sometimes "faint footpaths."
It was finally time for a well-deserved dip and lunch!
After visiting Rider Falls, our next destination was Jawbone Falls. Here is a photo of one of those "faint footpaths." Doesn't quite do the trail justice.
After going down some steep trail and fighting with the mud and low branches, we finally reached Jawbone Falls.
On to the next waterfall!
We took a few more faint footpaths and finally came out at the last waterfall of the day, Warden Falls. Definitely worth the hike!
At Warden, we noticed the sun slowly setting and figured it was about time to move on and take the trek home. On our way, we managed to hit a nest of yellow jackets (nasty buggers!), get slightly lost on a footpath, find our way to the right trail, and eventually- made it back to camp.
The next day, Elizabeth and I set out for Schoolhouse Falls to set up the ENO and relax. As soon as we got the ENO set up, we were accompanied by a group of about 20 boy scouts who all jumped and screamed into the cold water. It definitely was a bit entertaining.
After sleeping under the stars for three days, it soon came time to leave. It felt like we had just arrived. On Sunday, we packed up our hammocks and tarps, all of our dirty clothes, and other gear, and headed out of the valley.
On the way home, we stopped and picked up a secret southern treat- boiled peanuts!
Big thanks to the ladies who invited me and made it happen! What a great weekend, and very much so looking forward to our next camping trip.