Growing up in the southern Tidewater area of Chesapeake, Virginia was a very quiet and peaceful area with enough land and woods do to our own camping. We never did camp while I grew up, but we did make some trails in our backyard along the Dismal Swamp. The most camping I got while growing up was probably only from Boy Scouts. Camping wasn’t my thing then, I preferred a soft, comfy bed with a roof over my head. Our backyard wasn’t very friendly for camping though, due to the swamp. Most of the time it was infested with ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, spiders, gnats, chiggers, bees, hornets, wasps, deer flies, may flies, horse flies and God knows what. The humidity levels were also unbearable at times, staying inside was considered common sense. During the Fall or Winter time, me and my friends sometimes slept on the trampoline and gathered about 15-20 blankets to sleep with, great times! I did however experience plenty of hiking with my mom and dad. We had many weekend and week long trips to the mountains from a handful of states and spent at least one day hiking for most of the day. After the hike we would mosey on back and camp in our hotel and get the TV going like the average human would.
Once I graduated from Hickory High School in 2003, I moved to Richmond, Virginia to earn a degree at Virginia Commonwealth University. Throughout college I started really getting into camping, thanks to my fraternity. Now because I said “FRATERNITY,” don’t get the wrong idea of me as a frat boy. You could come into our house to party and you would never realize it was a fraternity. We were very chill, our wardrobe consisting mostly of t-shirts instead of the predictable and preppy popped collars. Anyways, camping was the highlight of the semester. Absolutely no hiking though, this was considered car camping. The only hiking involved was from your car, to tent, to fire, to beer. After I graduated in 2008, the camping continued, but I noticed I got tired of weekend trips just camping in one specific location. Most of the places I camped were in the middle of nowhere in the George Washington National Forest, with endless choices of trails for not only hikers, but backpackers, horse riders, mountain bikers, and ATV riders. This is when we realized we needed to start giving the backpacking experience a try.
The first time I went camping, we went to the middle of nowhere West Virginia to meet up with a huge group of my step dad’s friends. I think I was 4 or 5. The water was clear, the fire was huge and I remember my mom giving my brother and me a bath in a cooler with water drawn from a pump. I also remember camping again at the same site when my sister Katie was one and a half. My mom brought a microwave. This was my entire childhood camping experience in a nutshell. Fast forward 10 or so years… I asked for a tent for Christmas, and my dad got one for me. I was pretty much only allowed to camp in the back yard (you know, supervised, specifically no boys). Honestly, I’m not sure where the camping bug came from. A place to hang out without anyone’s parents? Who knows!
I’m a NOVA kid- that’s northern Virginia for all of you out-of-towners. I have an older brother and two younger siblings. I decided at the last minute to skip art school and head to VCU for Environmental Studies instead. A few months in, I met Jimi. We actually lived across the street from each other. Then Jimi moved, and we still essentially lived across the street from each other. Typical Richmond. We eventually moved in together, adopted some fur babies and got married (wedding weather probably deserves its own blog post!). Right before we got married, I got a job in Newport News. And that’s when we moved to the flattest place on earth (or at least it feels that way!).
Fast forward 3.5 years, and here we are. We’ve quit our jobs, didn’t renew our lease, sold a car, and are ready to hit the trail!