After having spent almost the entire summer on the Gulf Coast of Florida, my girlfriend and I started back to the northeast where we're both from and where we both live (though, that latter category has become blurry).
We acquired a new tent for the trip: a Marmot Tungsten UL 2P. My old "best cheapest" option had weathered snow in Yellowstone, rain in Shenandoah, heat in Bahia Honda. Its fly was torn and tattered. While not as ultralight as some "UL" tents, the Tungsten is nothing short of a miracle of engineering next to my old orange tent.
To avoid the heat of the South near sea-level and the tedium of 95, we shot towards Appalachia, driving north on 75 till we reached Atlanta, then turning west into the North Georgia Mountains, the crests of distant mountains filling us with the excitement of "destination,” pulling us as if gravitationally.
We wanted to make it into North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest to spend more time in the Smokies the next day. Driving west, the trees grew taller, the roads narrowed snaking through rolling farmland, red Georgia clay peaked through hillsides.
My girlfriend found Jack Rabbit Campground located at the end of a peninsula into Chatuge Lake within Nantahala. We spoke to the campground host who was well-situated with a big-screen TV mounted outside her camper. She was friendly and hospitable, advising us on a tent site with the best chance for a view of the sunrise.
Our Marmot Tungsten came together quickly and easily by the light of our lantern and headlamp. Its shape is built to accommodate significantly more headroom making it feel relatively enormous.
When we awoke, fog had settled in obscuring the sunrise. But soon the fog cleared leaving us with the stillness of the lake.