2017 Tsali Trip by the Numbers

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Days: 3
Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Miles Ridden: 46.6 (my dad rode 63!)
Mouse and Thompson: once
Right and Left Loop: twice

Zombie Camels: 14
New Zombie Camels: 2

On trail mechanical issues: 4
1 flat tire, 1 broken chain, 1 lost and found dropper post piece, 1 cracked bike frame

Wildlife spotted: 10
1 duck, 1 bunny, 5 salamanders, 1 toad, 2 deer

Wildlife heard: at least one whip-poor-will that “serenaded” us to sleep

Shenanigans and Jokes: too many to count

Put it all together and you get one very happy Morgan.

Want to read more about our Tsali Trips? Check out this post from our 2016 trip or this post for previous years

Florida Trip 2016: Leon Sinks

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Big Dismal Sink. This was one of my favorites. It is super deep and we could hear the trickling of water. Too bad we couldn’t get any closer. At least the viewing platform was open.

Leon Sinks was our last stop on our Florida mini-road trip. Tyler and I woke with the sun, but neither of us wanted to leave our cozy, warm sleeping bags. Eventually, my hunger overcame my desire to stay warm, so I left the Fit to make some breakfast. In addition to making our own dehydrated dinners, we brought along some Mountain House meals. I made a package of their freeze-dried eggs and bacon. The eggs themselves  were okay, but the bacon imparted a very artificial smokey flavor to the whole meal. I was not a fan.

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Florida Trip 2016: O’Leno State Park

Short and sweet trip report of our time at O’Leno State Park. Want to learn more about our Florida road trip? Click here for the Fit Conversion, Dehydrated Meals, and Manatee Springs State Park.

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Tyler and I left Manatee Springs just in time; it rained on us as we started our drive to O’Leno State Park, where we would sleep that night.

We pulled into the park, found our campsite, and bought some firewood. The forecast was calling for early evening thunderstorms, so Tyler and I opted to walk a short trail to to the river sink. In this region of Florida, there are many, many underground systems, which result in sink holes, springs, and rivers disappearing underground.

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Florida Trip 2016: Manatee Springs State Park

Months ago Tyler and I went on a mini-road trip to Florida. I wrote about our Honda Fit camping conversion here and making dehydrated meals for our trip here. I am finally getting around to writing about the rest of our trip. I have quite a backlog of adventures to write, so without further ado, please enjoy this blog post haiku.

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Fit Conversion and the Beginning of Our Florida Trip

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As a graduate student, I don’t get much time off. I distinctly remember the horrified faces of undergraduates when I tell them “no, I don’t get fall/winter/spring/summer break off. I still have to do research.”

Grad school, at least getting a Ph.D. in a natural science, is this odd combination of work and school. Technically, I’m a student. I am working towards a degree. But I don’t get school holidays, I’m not actually taking any classes, and I’m getting paid. Much more like a job, if I’m honest.

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Roadtrip 2016 Day Seven: Hen Wallow Falls

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One of my favorite pictures from our hike to Hen Wallow Falls.

Click here to read other blog posts about our roadtrip. 

Tyler and I woke up later than expected. We debated whether we should go hike immediately, so that it would be cooler and potentially less crowded, or if we should pack up camp first. Ultimately, we decided to pack up first, that way we wouldn’t feel rushed  while hiking.

It was bittersweet packing up camp for the last time. It was sad because that meant that our trip was coming to a close, but we were also excited about the prospect of not having to set up camp that night. We would instead  be staying with our friend Ashley in Nashville.

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Roadtrip 2016 Day Six: In which Morgan eats herself sick

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Our pretty campsite at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This is part six of an eight day series. Click here for the rest of the blog posts!

Despite the feeling sticky from the humidity, I slept well at Tsali. We didn’t have to worry about rain, and it was fantastic! I cooked breakfast, while Tyler packed up camp. It was so much nicer packing up dry gear instead of wet. Although, Tyler learned that you should not shake dirt off tarps like you do water. While generally a bit of mist sprayed on you from the tarp is no bother, a shower of dust and dirt is less appealing!

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Roadtrip 2016 Day Five: Grayson Highlands Part 2

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Click here for a list of all the posts in the roadtrip series. 

The night before, Tyler and I fell asleep to rain. Thankfully, when we woke up, the rain had abated. Every now and then the wind blew, shaking water from the trees. For the first time  while camping, we actually make breakfast. Tyler made eggs in basket while I changed clothes and started packing up the tent. Mmm, it was so wonderful to eat warm food for breakfast. Especially since it was kind of chilly in the Virginia highlands.

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Roadtrip 2016 Day Four: Grayson Highlands State Park, aka WILD PONIES!

As usual, if you missed any of the previous posts in the roadtrip series, click here

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Hands down, this was my favorite day of the trip by far, though it didn’t start off that way. At some point in the night it started raining. All of our towels and wet clothes we hung up before bed became even more soaked, although at the time I wasn’t thinking about that. I was wondering if our rainfly would hold.

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Roadtrip 2016 Day Three: water falling everywhere, but no waterfall

Click here to read the other posts in the series. 

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Tyler and I after hiking three hours in the rain. We still had a two mile hill left to climb. 

I woke up in the morning, all cozy in our little tent. Tyler and I had slept well last night. We did not hear any bears roaming through the camp. Whether that was because the bears had a feast last night and felt no need to return for more food, or because we just slept through them walking by our heads, I guess I’ll never know.

About the time I woke up, I noticed that it started sprinkling. I made a dash for the towels we had strung up the night before and stowed them in the car along with the camp chairs. Back into the tent I went. Tyler and I waited out the drizzle. It seemed to let up, so I hurried to the bathhouse to change clothes. I was just finishing brushing my teeth when it started legitimately raining. By the time I made it to the car, it was downright pouring. I could hear Tyler hollering encouragement as I scurried to the car. I dove inside and sheltered there until the rain let up a bit. While I waited, I read Just Passin’ Thru, a wonderful book Nancy gave me about Mountain Crossings, the outdoor gear store on the Appalachian Trail.

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