The Big Picture: Though this adventure was open to the general public, most of our participants this year were along to celebrate one person’s “factor of ten” birthday. Though we’ve celebrated birthdays in the backcountry before, this was the first time the trip was truly a party! Three generations joined us for a weekend on Cumberland Island – and boy did we all make the most of our time on the island! We spent the days beach-combing, fire-building, hiking, listening to a history talk by a ranger, jewelry-making, storytelling, and watching the sunrise on the beach!
A change of plans: Though this trip was listed as a “Backcountry Adventure,” we had to make the last-second decision to stay at the Sea Camp campground both nights, as our intended 1st night campsite was full and we did not want to trek the additional miles to the next campsite. The change ended up being perfect for our group. Though everyone got the experience of packing, wearing, and hiking with a full backpack, we were able to have more diverse adventures from our base camp because we spent less time getting there.
Wild horses (couldn’t drag me away): We saw more than 25 horses during our three days on the island, more than any other time I’ve been to Cumberland. And though the parade of horses on the beach at sunset were beautiful, our first horse encounter was the most memorable. On a day hike on our first day on the island, we turned down a path in the forest to cross the dunes, and as our eyes began to adjust to the direct sunlight, out of the light galloped a horse and its colt. Our group stepped out of the path, our hearts racing, as these horses came to a halt and then slowly and warily walked pass us, so close we could touch them (if we had not been warned against such a thing).
The Birthday Girl: Simone, the birthday girl, and her friends and family had heard about Cumberland Island, but had done little or no camping in the past. But birthdays are for adventures and her loyal and upbeat party-goers strapped on backpacks for a weekend of campfire meals and sleeping in tents. It’s always my hope that participants will remember the positive experiences and not the moments of discomfort, and I think that was true on this trip. I hope that Simone’s best birthday presents were seeing her friends and children laugh and smile as they climbed trees, her husband build a fire, and her mother make seashell jewelry for her children.
There’s a trail for that: When getting ready to leave the island, we all felt somewhat sad to leave such a beautiful place. But most people were excited about a shower and sleeping in their own bed. However, there’s always someone who just doesn’t want to leave. This year, our pre-teen participant was this person. She was a strong hiker, an expert tree-climber, and always had a smile on her face. On the morning we were to board the ferry and leave, she said, “I want to camp and backpack everyday of the year!” I replied, “You know, there’s a trail for that – the Appalachian Trail.” I don’t think her mom was too happy to hear my suggestion. But I bet she hikes it someday! 🙂
If I could sum this trip up in three words, they would be: Wild horses, Live Oaks, Laughter
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