One of the continual bits of advice we share on the WBT Carolina Outdoors program, is whenever you’re planning a trip, adventure or excursion the most important thing to do is prepare. However, talking about it and doing it are two different things.
My son Lawrence & I had planned to go on a trip with his Webelo Den on a camping trip to Bear Den Family Campground. We learned of it a few months ago which enables plenty of time to prepare. The only negative is procrastination. Work, other obligations & family events pop up and the next thing you know the trip is here. For us it’s a one night trip. We’re getting up early on Saturday and begin the 2+ hour trek up to the beautiful, Blue Ridge Parkway.
The trip may include some hikes, throwing the football & maybe even some fishing.
I go through my check list:
2 Sleeping Bags=Check
Stove & Fuel=Check
Dinner & Breafast=Check
Fishing vest, reel, flies=Check
We get to this private campground just after 11 a.m. on Saturday. Clouds are threatening but we get our tent up nice a dryly in the group camping section. Then down comes the rain. It rains off and on but with the help of a few tarps we are able to enjoy good food and fellowship. Then the rain breaks and some short hikes and ball toss during Saturday afternoon. We talk about the delayed harvest streams in NC being stocked a few weeks before and the opportunity that provides to anglers that want to take up fly fishing. Lawrence is getting excited. Next, a good dinner, ‘smores & friendly spooky tales around the campfire. So far, it’s a successful trip. One that I was thoroughly prepared for.
Saturday night the tent is pounded by hours of steady rain. Our Kelty family tent does great and Lawrence & I sleep well. Thinking about the fish that we’ll hopefully still get to catch the next day.
Of course, a night of rain means a morning of packing up wet stuff. Lawrence and I pack up, eat breakfast and head for a stream that’s on our way home. Stone Mountain State Park has an easy to reach Delayed Harvest Stream (Catch and release Oct-June & artificial lures only), Jacob Fork.
We both have our polarized sunglasses allowing us to see the fish in the water. They’re piled in this flowing stream, eating bugs in the water that has risen just enough to be healthy with the rain from the night before. We hustle back to our car. My vest is on, the fly box is full. I get Lawrence in his waders & asking him to lace up his wading boots while I get the rod all rigged up.
The rod? Check?
I immediately start looking all over my car. I take out the wet tent. I take out the food. I’m beginning to get desperate.
What’s worse than telling a ten-year old boy that we can’t go fishing? Especially a boy that has three sisters & was ready for some “man” time, fishing with his dad. I’m not sure but thankfully we still ended up having a great time.
Stone Mountain not only has Jacob Fork for trout fishing. It also has the High Shoals Falls Loop which include a beautiful, 80-foot waterfall. The investment to get there is about a mile but it includes an elevation gain of just over 1200 feet so it can make you feel as if you really did something.
Lawrence and I enjoyed the hike. It wasn’t too strenuous and we were able to move along at a leisure pace. There are interpretive signs along the way so we could learn about the different wildlife and habitat that we were passing. Due to the rain the traffic at the park & on the trails was minimal. A father and son whose minds were on fishing just an hour before were now enjoying the exertion of working up to the top of the falls.
This is where the rain had done us a favor. The water volume had increased the size of the falls & we were able to enjoy the beauty of the cascade from the viewing station and then from the bridge crossing above the falls.
The return portion of the loop moved us away from the water and allowed us a meandering hike through the woods. We descended down meeting back up with the stream, then back to the parking lot and our car.
We almost had forgotten about the “fishing trip” until we reached home and I found the fishing rods leaning against the wall in the garage. Right beside where all the other gear had been. Wow! I just left it.
I think a fitting title of the next WBT radio show could be, “How to make lemonade out of lemons?”
Bill Bartee is the owner of Jesse Brown’s, Inc., Charlotte’s Official Outfitter for fall, & host of the Carolina Outdoors program on WBT (1110 AM-99.3 FM)