Misty mountain tops shroud views of endless rolling Blue Ridge Mountain peaks in cotton candy obscurity. The black bears, typically abundant, are apparently hiding from the randomly regular rains we’ll see all weekend here, but deer galore brave the traffic and precipitation in pursuit of grass and leaves to fill out their bony ribcage sides.
Red oaks tower, letting only small rays of the occasional sunshine drop through this canopy forest. Stripes maples wave to hikers exploring the many waterfall trails. Hemlocks tilt their tops over to see what manner of insect or rodent is scurrying up their furrowed bark.
A handful of Airstreams dot Big Meadows campground, one in particular is parked next to a vintage VW Bus, between the two homes on wheels young children run circles around one another. The girls in princess dressed and bright pinks crawl in an out of hammocks while the boys skin their knees and help their daddos collect firewood left behind.
The wood becomes fire, and marshmallows go to roast. As children lick clean sticky fingers and their parents declare happy hour, the crack of glow sticks harkens nightfall. The mamas will put their children to sleep, some disappearing for the night with restless youngsters unable or willing to part with their glow sticks. The dads will congregate around the fire talking all things full-time travel, Android and iPhone, generators, working remotely and when and where they might next cross paths.
At the bottom of a short but steep trail, children and young 20-somethings will frolic and swim in a pristine pool beneath a waterfall’s crash. Millipedes will suck the high fructose goodness from Skittles that didn’t make their way to young hikers’ mouths. Rangers patrol, nature prevails.
As night comes and goes, a thick fog welcomes those early rising campers to a nosferatu forest wonderland. Rain promises a full day’s visit to the park, and the two families in question part ways for different cardinal directions and the promise of another day on the road, another meet up somewhere down the line.
Life is good.