I have been complaining to my boyfriend for weeks about how drastically my lifestyle changed once I moved from Brooklyn to Charlotte and the toll it was taking on my body. In Brooklyn, my daily commute to and from the city doubled as exercise. I could easily track at least 10,000 steps on my FitBit without stepping foot in a gym. The furthest I’ve walked here in Charlotte is to my car, which I have to use to get everywhere — even to the mailbox*! My sedentary lifestyle is quickly catching up to me and I have been brainstorming ways to get active. So when Avon suggested a day trip to Crowders Mountain State Park for an outdoor adventure, I was all in.
We made the 45 or so minute drive up to Kings Mountain, NC on Saturday morning. The parking lot was at capacity, despite the overcast sky above. Bean, who was accustomed to spending Saturday mornings with his tablet, complained immediately. “I’m tired of climbing up a mountain,” he groaned. A passerby overheard him and chuckled. “Y’all just got back?” he asked.
I rolled my eyes. “We haven’t even started.”
Bean perked up when we handed him the paper map outlining the trails and told him to lead the way. He declared that we were going on an odyssey, like in one of his favorite video game. Avon and I shared an amused smile. Bean is such a geek.
We started with a strenuous trail that promised us stunning views and a glimpse at the skyscrapers in Uptown. I was worried about how Bean would fare, but watching him made me wonder whether he was hiking up a mountain or taking a casual stroll through the park. I, on the other hand, needed a break after about 15 minutes. Rather, I leaned against a tree to catch my breath and stayed there. The sun was nowhere in sight, but beads of sweat broke out all over my forehead anyway. My body was protesting such an adventurous excursion with intense cramps that seemed to burn hotly from my thighs to my calves. My throat was as dry as sand. It took several deep breaths, long swigs of water and encouraging words from Avon, Bean and other hikers, but I got back on the trail.
I’m not sure how long it took for us to reach the summit, but I know I’ll never forget the view on top of Crowders Mountain. There were so many flat rocks just waiting for my tired body to sit on them. It was a beautiful sight.
Ha! Just kidding (not really).
We took our time appreciating the views (and resting) before hiking down the trail. As tired as I was, I felt great. But not as great as Bean, who amused everyone we passed by singing, dancing and going back and forth with Avon about who was Mario and who was Luigi on our odyssey adventure. I had already been assigned the role of Princess Peach, so I tuned them out and focused on steadying my legs for the trip back down the 336 wooden steps before the summit.
We made it back on the ground feeling invigorated. We decided to cool down on the easy trail around the lake. The lake was about five miles down the road, but we weren’t crazy enough to walk and hopped in the car.
The flora was much more noticeable around the lake. We heard frogs croaking loudly and actually saw them the closer we got to the lakes edge. Bean was delighted and recalled a bedtime story we read together a few weeks ago. He was not as pleased to catch Avon and I cozying up to each other.
Finally, it was time to go home. I predicted that Bean and I would fall asleep in the car as usual. To my surprise, we stayed awake and the three of us chatted animatedly the entire ride back to Charlotte. Bean told us how easy hiking was and said that he wanted to come back. At least we agreed on one thing.
*I know I don’t have to drive to the mailbox but, when in Rome…I mean, Charlotte.