March Camping at Unicoi State Park
I took my two sons and two of their friends up to Unicoi State Park for a couple of nights of tent camping, hiking and sightseeing just this past weekend, March 21-23. We started out setting up camp when we arrived on Friday afternoon and it couldn't have been nicer, probably 65-70 degrees. The boys had a lot of pent up energy from the ride up so we decided to hike the Bottoms Loop Trail that winds around the Unicoi Lake. It follows Smith Creek from near the camping area and winds its way on a wide path that made for an enjoyable hike.
Boys being boys (the 4 range in age from 12-15), they were hungry when we made it back to camp so we had a little lesson in fire building, which is when all else fails use charcoal lighter fluid! The wood we had brought from home was damp and I had forgotten kindling, so we gathered up some fallen twigs out of the woods and eventually got a fire going. After all the lighter fluid burned off we set about cooking some hot dogs and hamburgers, which were not as good as they would have been had we remembered to bring BUNS. Can you tell I don't camp very often? But it gets better. I had purchased a brand new Coleman multi fuel, top of the line lantern specifically for this trip. I had gotten a Coleman stove for Christmas from my wife (a hint?) that runs on small propane canisters. In my haste to pack and get ready I had purchased 4 canisters of propane and not a single drop of the liquid fuel required to burn the lantern. It was going to be a dark night spent with 4 boys who had just filled up on bunless burgers and beans. Fortunately we made it through and were able to buy some fuel at the trading post in the morning.
We had a lot of fun hiking some of the Smith Creek Trail, driving to Anna Ruby Falls and spending some time in Helen. While in Helen I was able to talk the boys into having a proper sit down meal inside a restaurant, and explain to them that the first camping trip of the year is kind of like a shake down cruise, or a dry run to make sure your equipment is working properly and that you have your packing list trimmed down to only what your need.
Michael (Clark W. Griswold) Allen
Flowery Branch, GA