Although nature separates us from society, human connection will always be at the basis of our experience here on Earth.
Like many others, I dream of escaping into the forest and immersing myself in the sweet nature that surrounds me. Of course, this requires some preparation, and people have varying degrees of camping they wish to pursue. While the goal of a trip like that may be to separate yourself from the trials of everyday society, I was recently reminded of the importance of human interactions during a simple weekend trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
While I planned this trip for over a month, a few days before we left, we found ourselves with a problem – there was a gas shortage in the southeastern United States, exactly where we were planning on driving 8 hours into the wilderness. While we debated cancelling the trip, we were too excited to miss this opportunity, so we inevitably decided to take the risk and head north.
On the journey through North Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, it became clear that finding gas was going to be a challenge. Without risking our tank nearing too empty, we tried to be cautious and search for available gas stations as we drove. We had many miles to go, and gas stations are already scarce in the mountain towns without a “gas crisis” to contribute to the shortage.
Initially, our plan was to spend the first day hiking to waterfalls and exploring Pisgah National Forest before driving to our campsite reservation, but as our tank got lower, we had a decision to make: should we drive out of our way to our reserved campsite, or should we set up camp where we already stopped to hike?
In the early afternoon during a 4-mile loop hike, we noticed that there were several empty campsites directly next to a beautiful river. Eventually, we saw that one was taken, and the visitors informed us they didn’t make a reservation. We ultimately decided to stay where we were, and I couldn’t be more relieved with our decision.
During our time at this campsite, we encountered some lovely humans who made the experience even better. Here are some of the lessons I learned:
1. Approach every situation with a smile and an open mind
At first, I felt stressed that we had to miss our reservation and risk setting up our campsite. However, when I relaxed and embraced our decision, I quickly learned that our simple setup would become my favorite part of the trip!
2. It’s okay to ask for help
On our 4-mile hiking loop, we came across two mountain bikers who passed us going in the opposite direction, gaining height so they could ride down the mountain. We knew that we should be close to a halfway point in our hike, but as the afternoon sun dipped, we were anxious to stray too far from our car without setting up camp. Luckily, we ran into our biker friends again, who kindly informed us we were heading in the right direction. This experience gave us people to wave to as well as invaluable peace of mind.
3. Kindness is out there
The next morning as we were packing our supplies back into the car, we were hours away from our next stop and running low on water. In the parking lot, we saw a man in an incredible travel van that left us in awe – we had to compliment it! This man was gracious for our kind words and offered us several bottles of water to get us through the rest of our trip. This simple gesture was a gift, and we were incredibly grateful for this interaction.
Although nature separates us from society, human connection will always be at the basis of our experience here on Earth. Disconnecting from the civilized world can be an amazing lesson of what is truly important in this world: kindness and respect for those around you.