We stay at Pace Bend every time we go rock climbing in Austin. The campsites are private and there are always sites available. The campsites along the cliffs are beautiful at night.
Campground Review: R&D Campground in Mountain City, TN is located in the far north east corner of the state almost directly in between Boone, NC and Demascus, VA. It sits at the base of Doe Mt and has access to all the trails which are well known for four-wheeling, horseback riding, biking, or just hiking. Be sure and ask for a trail map when you check in, it has a color coded and numbered system that shows you distance and which trails are friendly for each activity. The campground has 19 total sites, 1-9 are full hookups with water and electricity, sites 10-19 are primitive tent sites. Not far from either is the bathhouse and a pavilion with a fire pit which is great for lounging and getting to know some of the other campers and guest. A few of the tent sites back up to a cascading creek and I would definitely suggest reserving one of these. I think its 13 or 14, Dennis one of the owners can point you in the right direction. The campground is also only 20 to 30 minutes from Lake Watauga and is surrounded by good trout fishing.
Gear Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - today I am testing the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro Hammock. This hammock comes with a weight capacity of 400, a net suspension kit, a starter rope kit for smaller trees in tight spaces and carabiners. I also bought a pair of Trunk Straps which come in at 10 feet, and that really opens up your hanging options. I was impressed with the materials and everything about the hammock, the only suggestion I have would be to include or add an attachment to the end of the elastic suspension lines for the netting ( a small plastic figure 8 would do). I used this hammock a little early in the season for mosquito but I like keeping the other insects and spiders off of me just as well. https://www.grandtrunk.com/products/skeeter-beeter-pro
For my five-year-old son's first backpacking experience, we hiked about 3 miles on the Ice Age Trail, into Pike Lake campground (in the Kettle Moraine North State Park). We camping on one of the backpacking sites right off the trail.
Our campsite was very large, fully shaded, and included a picnic table and a fire ring. There was also a port-a-potty nearby, central to the three backpacking sites. The site was really nice, and the fireflies were very active at dusk.
Within Pike Lake there are many hiking trails of varying lengths, and all are very well maintained. They are even updating the path of the trails to help stop erosion on the hills, which is impressive if you are interested in conservation and natural resource management. There is also a lookout tower that offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
The lake was beautiful and the beach area is very nice and clean. There are many picnic tables and a playground. We would have loved to swim on our last day, but it was a bit cool (not even 70 degrees F) and very breezy. My son determined that we should hike back, but he did get to play in the sand a little bit.
Before testing OOFOS, I was not really a sandals person. Now I wear them more than I ever had before. OOFOS are made of a single molded piece of high density closed-cell foam. The shape of them offer excellent arch support, very cushioned overall foot support, and forces the wearer to take most of the pressure off of the heels. They are waterproof and very durable.
After our hike into our campsite, I wore my OOFOS and even hiked in them a little bit. They are excellent after hikes and runs, or after a long day on your feet.
My wife is very much a "sandals person" and she appreciated the cushion and the support she got while she was pregnant. OOFOS helped ease some of the pressure on her back. Now that we have our newborn, she still wears them daily. OOFOS has been her primary shoe for the last couple months and she loves them.
I whole-heartedly recommend them to anyone. Friends and family who know that I wasn't a sandals person before noticed the OOFOS and I share my love of these sandals. 100% Ranger-worthy and 100% recommended. The extra cost over cheap sandals is totally worth it.
Campground Review: So I would like to start by saying that camping here was not the original plan. We had a backcountry trip that we sadly underprepared for (ran into about three feet of snow right at the beginning of the trail and finally decided to come back when either it's a little warmer or we're a little more prepared. Whatever comes first.)
So we trucked our old, three season boots back to the car and hit the dilemma of where to set up for the night. Luckily -- we were only about ten minutes from one of our favorite campgrounds in New Hampshire. Let me tell you why we like it so much.
First of all- it's first come first serve and only open to the tenting community. This weeds out most screaming children, humming generators, and loud TVs. It's also a pack in- you have to carry your stuff to whatever spot you choose. Generally it's not that much of a hike. We prefer to go as far away from the lot as possible for maximum seclusion, but that didn't happen for us this time around because of all the hardcore early spring campers.
The best part of this camping ground is its views. On a clear night, you can see a ton of stars encompassing around you- the only light pollution coming from you and your fellow campers fire. The river flows right through the campground and makes for some excellent ambiance. Five star for about 12 of the camp spots. The other ones have access to the river but are not directly on top of it.
There are only pit toilets, but there is potable water just at the top of the campground. The fee per night is 24- which it worth it in my opinion because of the spectacular surroundings.
If you want to be close to a ton of great hiking trails, right on the Kancamagus highway for pretty cheap- this is your spot. The friendly campers are just extra.
GRAND TRUNK REVIEW:
As an official Dyrt ranger, I get to test out some awesome gear. So now let's talk about this amazing hammock. The only problem I had with the thing was committing to a color. They've got color combos, patterns and even state flags, which is pretty cool. I went with the turquoise with the Bright orange Trunk straps- and I was extremely pleased with how brilliant the colors look together.
I was a little confused with picking out the tent because I've only ever had ones that come with pretty much everything- but the Grand Trunks are a little different. They come with two carabiners- and the Trunk Straps you can add on (and I would totally recommend this unless you can magaiver something yourself.) each strap can withstand 200 pounds. I got the open double hammock.
This hammock is more than likely intended for warm day use- the fabric is very breathable, which makes it a great choice for hanging out at the beach or at your camp after a nice day. But I wanted to test its limits a little further- so I decided I would spend the 30 degree New England night in the hammock to see how it held up.
Best night sleep of my life! I put a buffer blanket under my sleeping bag just for some extra protection from the cool air coming up, but me and my Dog Sadie slept soundly, warmly and comfortably in our big bright Grand Trunk hammock. Not to mention safely- those trunk straps are so secure! My friend has a four season sleeper hammock and had to go inside the car at 2:30 AM because she was too cold- and her hammock is MADE for that purpose! I was definitely proud of my gear- which is very important to me.
It's also pretty packable. The straps come in a different package- but There's enough room to consolidate into the hammocks main stuffer pouch (especially for backpacking like we were planning). If I had one criticism it would be that the hammock is kind of heavy compared to the ones I've had before. But they also don't have the hardware that Grand Trunk offers or the weight capacity- so I guess it's just a trade off. Totally fair.
All in all- I'm so happy to have been given the opportunity to test this company out and give it a 5 out of 5 ranger review. The hammock did great in below freezing weather, is easy to set up, jazzes my campsite right up and most importantly- My dog loves it. Will most certainly be recommending it to my Friends. Grab your own Hammock Here: