When I told her about my impending trip, a short four-day hike alone through part of the Smokies, I never expected that she'd want to come along. She thought I was joking. We're talking true camping here, not that "sleeping in a truck bed at a KOA" silliness kind of camping that always ended badly with girlfriends. But she was excited when she realized I was serious.Zack, this is adorable. Nicely done. I feel like this is stuff that normal, well-adjusted adults do. How cute! Honestly, I'm more of a "city mouse" than a "country mouse," but after reading this, I gotta say that you make the whole thing sound pretty romantic. I also gotta hand it to you because you make roughing it sound like watching a four minute montage in a rom com movie. Add some s'mores to the pile and hell, even I'm ready to load up on insect repellent and canned beans and trek off the grid for a few days. Who needs the Internet, decent cell phone reception, and access to indoor plumbing? Not me! (J/K. I totally need those things because I'm prissy.)
She survived the first day, an impressive feat considering she had never been on this sort of camping trip. I was relieved to see she'd followed my advice and wore a pair of broken-in shoes and packed lightly. And it was cute when she'd practically leap into my arms every time a leaf rustled the first night.
I suppose I may have been showing off just a tad when I started a fire with some sticks instead of using the magnesium striker or waterproof matches I'd brought, but watching her swoon at it made me puff up like a peacock (even after I burned my hand on a tinder bundle while laughing because she called me "Lord of the Flames").
Over the next few days, there were some rough patches: insects, an unexpected thunderstorm, and far too many copperheads for my liking. But what I remember most are the showers together under a waterfall, watching through the tent flaps when a deer wandered out of the mist and into camp early one morning, all of the great times. None of these were new experiences for me, but they sure felt new with her.
By the end of the trip, she could make a decent fire, identify some plants, and knew how to navigate a few dangerous situations. And she was actually having fun. Walking out of the woods the final day, I saw a side of her I'd never seen before: strong, tough, able to handle anything that was thrown at her. And, it was a side I wanted to see more of. How about we head down to the Keys next weekend and swim with sharks?
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