Spring Break in the Smokies

It’s the first week back from spring break – I’m happy to be back on campus and see my friends, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the time off from assignments and tests! For spring break, I went to the Smoky Mountains with a group of friends and spent a few days camping. I’m not the most outdoorsy person in the world, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but it was a great time!

The first two days/3 nights were primitive camping, which means we packed up all of our stuff and hiked a few miles into the woods to our campsite. Our site was a bit of a clearing with a fire ring and pulley system to raise our stuff up at night to discourage any curious bears that might be wandering through. (We didn’t see any bears during the week, which was a little disappointing, but also we’re all still alive, which is nice.) The second day, we went on a 14 mile hike, where a few cool things happened.

Also, this was the general consensus after all that hiking.
Also, this was the general consensus after all that hiking.

The first cool thing was this – about 4 or 5 miles into the hike, we reached the top of one of the mountains, where we came across a group of people from Purdue – some of which we knew! Purdue is a big school, but who could have imagined running into other students – some of them engineering students – at the literal top of a mountain 8 hours away from campus? After talking for a while, we continued on our hike until we reached Abrams Falls, where we climbed down a path that turned out not to be a real path and came across this:

Abrams Falls
Abrams Falls

Beautiful, right? The third cool thing was this: about 12 miles into our hike, it got dark and we were all tired and more than ready to be sitting around a campfire eating. Unfortunately, it had rained all night and for part of the day, meaning all the wood was wet, and we also were not the best fire makers, as had been demonstrated the night before.

As we got closer to our campsite, though, we saw a light, which was kind of weird. Eventually, we got to our campsite and saw a man sitting next to a huge fire in the fire ring. I’ll be honest, for a moment I was less focused on the fire and more focused on an escape plan, but when we introduced ourselves, it turns out he was a Purdue alum! He hung out with us and talked around the fire for a few hours before we went to bed. (Also, apparently in the Smoky Mountains it works out that you’re often camping at the same camp site as other groups of people you don’t necessarily know, at least for the sites capable of holding bigger groups.)

I couldn’t believe that we had traveled south for spring break and run across so many people from Purdue IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MOUNTAINS. Every week I give presentations to visiting families and talk about how large and widespread our alumni network is, but it was really cool to see that played out! Plus, the guy at our campsite definitely saved us from another night of peanut butter on tortillas.

Leave a Reply