Cheaha State Park

This weekend, I took an opportunity to go on an overnight camping trip with a couple of friends from the comic shop I play X-Wing at every Thursday night. I’d been debating on going for several weeks, but finally decided about three weeks out that I was going to go. When I originally signed up, it was supposed to be in the 70s with the overnight lows at the 50s.

Turns out, the high was in the 50s and the low was in the 30s on Saturday. This made for a relatively miserable night, but the rest of the day was a lot of fun.

I did have to get up at 5:30, but that was the time I would’ve normally gotten up to go to work anyways, but at least I had a more fun alternative going on. I finished packing (but ended up forgetting my hot chocolate mug!) and got on the road at 7:15 to drive 45 minutes to house we were all meeting at. I transferred all of my stuff to a bright-orange Toyota FJ SUV, and then squeezed myself into the back with one of my other friends.

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Graffiti inside the Lookout Tower

We got to Cheaha State Park around 10 a.m., received our camping assignments, and headed up to the sites. We had twelve people and three sites, with a maximum of three tents per site, so we had two, three, and three tents set up by the end of the hour. I got a little single tent of my own, and it was surprisingly warm inside…while the sun was out.

After a quick lunch of sandwiches, we headed up to Bald Rock, stopping by the observation tower on our way. Only about five of us ended up climbing the tower. The graffiti on the inside was interesting, but also really sad. Last year, I went to the Smoky Mountains, and we were told that the village at Cade’s Cove is sanded down every so often because of the graffiti, and at some point, there will be nothing left. Remember, take only pictures, leave only footprints.

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Overlooking Talladega and Oxford and other municipalities 

The best part was getting to the end of the board walk once we’d scaled the (relatively flat) road to the summit. You could see everything. The clouds hadn’t descended yet, so the entire valley was visible. The leaves haven’t really changed yet, but it’s still really gorgeous. It was breathtaking. Mount Cheaha might not be the highest mountain in the world, but it is the highest point in Alabama, so you still get a pretty good view.

After that quick mountain excursion, we made our way back to camp and started up a fire. It was only 3 p.m., but we were all starving. So we built the fire, roasted hot dogs and made s’mores, and Della brought out a marinated steak that we all had bits of, too. I ended up eating three hot dogs and four or five s’mores. Luckily, everyone had ended up bringing s’mores stuff, so we had more than enough.

We sat around and talked, and the night got darker, and then around 7 p.m. the fog and mist descended, and we decided to move into one tent to play a game.

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Can you tell we’re cold?

The game was called Secret Hitler. It sounds really disturbing, but it’s also a lot of fun and there’s a lot of shouting going on. We managed to fit all twelve people plus two dogs in this one guy’s tent, so it was relatively warm by the time we were done. Once 9 p.m. hit, though, we were all crashing. It had stopped raining, so we all went out to check out the fire again. Someone built it back up, and I brought out my red hots and apples and made some cinnamon apples (which were well-received all around) while others made hot chocolate. I ended up bailing around 10 p.m, and went and snuggled down into my very, very cold tent and my dad’s “mummy bag,” which is rated for near-zero temperatures.

It poured all night long, but luckily my tent held up really well. Can’t say the same for my neck: I woke up stiff all over. But we managed to pack up despite the drizzle, and were headed out for Waffle House by 8:30. If you’ve never been to a Waffle House after a hard night, then you don’t know what you’re missing.

We got back to “civilization,” also known as Andrew and Hollie’s house, around 11 a.m., and I headed out to Chelsea to see my parents after the weekend (and also pick up some succulent potting mix at the nearby Home Depot).

I had a great weekend, and while I wish it had been a little warmer (or at least that the wind hadn’t blown quite so much!), I don’t regret going. I think I would’ve regretted not going, actually. I hope I get to do this again in the future, and hopefully I’ll have an SO to join me (because honestly, it got really lonely being one of only two people that were not attached to anyone).

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