It’s Saturday, which means we’re currently somewhere within the confines of the pines at Zaleski State Forest.
Yesterday, we loaded down our backpacks with gear, made a dash to the store for grub replenishments, tossed everything in the car and set out in the humid afternoon air on our way to the trailhead. This marks our first fling with Zaleski, so hopefully it will just give us a soft kiss goodnight instead of trying to bend us over and spank us before we even have dinner. Ah, the joys of backpacking. Sometimes you dominate the trail and sometimes the trail dominates you.
We’ve studied up quite a bit on Zaleski, though, so we have a rough idea for what to expect. We’ve watched other backpackers on YouTube tackle the trails, spoken at length with locals who have recommended it to us, we’ve even hiked and camped in locations that are in the same vicinity. In other words, this isn’t completely new territory for us. Still, new trails have a way of making you pay or beckoning you to stay, so I’m sure there will be some unexpected surprises which we haven’t anticipated. No quicksand, please!
Inside this particular forest, camping is only permitted in designated areas. This will be a change of pace for us, as we’re used to being able to find our own campsite to pitch our tent in, typically avoiding any trail traffic or nocturnal neighbors. We’ve heard it can be a popular destination, so we’re prepared for the fact that we might not be as secluded as we’d prefer.
While hiking the Appalachian Trail, thru-hikers sometimes refer to a large group starting their treks at around the same time as simply “The Bubble” — noting that it should thin out as they push further north or south. We’d like to have a similar outlook for this trip, as we would expect less company as we navigate deeper into the forest, but that may not be the case. Regardless, we can be social butterflies when the occasion calls for it, so I expect that this will be no exception… barring any injuries to add to my collection.
Well, gotta run. The forest is calling and we must come. We will have an update on our trip with all the (hopefully) not-so-gory details, most likely once we return. If you’re heading out on your own adventure soon, drop us a line in the comments and let us know where you’ll be going! We always love to follow along and jot down more locations for our personal backpacking bucket list.