Shannon C.

San Diego, CA

Joined July 2016

Ranger Review: “GreenBelly’s Meal2Go at Pilot Mountain State Park, NC”

Campground Review:

Pilot Mountain State Park is located in Pinnacle, NC, approximately 2.5 hours away from Asheville, NC and is known for it’s giant pinnacle, Pilot Mountain, that rises 2,000 feet into the clouds. At the base of a windy road leading up to Pilot Mountain lies the campground, approximately 2 miles from the top. This beautiful campground was centrally located within the state park and gave quick access to a wide variety of easy to strenuous hiking trails. Most of the trails leave directly from the campground. In addition to hiking, Pilot Mountain is known for it’s steep cliffs that give easy access to rock climbing and rappelling. There is a trail leading from the parking lot and traverses above the climbing area so you have quick access to set anchors from the top. Additional anchors are bolted at the top of most routes for easy top roping. The campground itself offered a fire ring, picnic table, and a man-made flat area to pitch a tent at each site. The sites were somewhat close together but we did not have any issues with noise during our stay. There were several clean bath houses throughout. Each one offered flushing toilets, and hot, running water for showers, all of which were free. There was potable water located next to the site and a separate area to clean dishes. Each site also had a ton of shade. Trees surround every inch of the park so there was plenty of space to hang a hammock and get relief from the burning sun. Most sites looked large enough for the average sized RV. The park’s host drove around checking in and offering $5 bundles of wood. The one negative draw back to this campground is that all the sites are on a slope so when it rains, most likely your campsite will too. The park does require a two-night minimum stay if camping over a holiday weekend. Also be aware that the campground entrance closes at 10 pm. You will not be able to enter or exit until the gate opens the next morning. The closest town is 10 miles away in case you forgot anything. Overall, would highly recommend this campground if you are looking for a great place to rock climb and camp for the weekend. We will be back!

Product Review:

As a Ranger for the Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. During my climbing adventures at Pilot Mountain State Park, I got to test out three different Meal2Go packets from Greenbelly: Cranberry/Almond, Peanut/Apricot and Dark Chocolate/Banana (https:// Let me start by saying how amazingly delicious these meals are. I’m a super picky eater and when I first saw cranberry and apricot, I had second thoughts about trying. Thank goodness my sense of adventure overcame my lack of tastebud exploration. The Meal2Go products are full of mouth watering flavor that I could eat over and over again which is crucial if spending time in the back country. They contain all natural ingredients and 1/3 of your daily nutrients. It lacked that chemical flavor most hiking bars have giving way to a natural tasting bar. They also had the right balance of chewy yet crunchy. Greenbelly designed these products with backpacking in mind. While we didn’t get a chance to use backpacking, it did supply a ton of energy for a full day of climbing. The one draw back I will say is the weight of the product. Since it was designed for backpacking, I was expecting it to be much lighter for what you get. There are two bars in each packet and the weight is 5.5 ounces. And while that doesn’t sound like a lot, it seemed heavier than my average backpacking bar. I will say though, I’d much rather be carrying slightly more weight in my pack if it meant I get to have a healthier/tastier option while rock climbing or playing in the back country. I would highly suggest checking out this product!

First to Review
A very sandy campground

Pismo Beach is known for its white sand dunes that go on for miles. Located right on the Pacific Ocean, this campground is a perfect spot if you plan on riding the nearby dunes but not if you plan for a quiet weekend getaway. During the summer, lots of people (young, old, families) seem to stay at this campground which cause a lot of noise. Sites are close together which doesn't offer much privacy. Dust is everywhere! The campground has showers which are necessary but just when you think you are clean, you aren't. Very close to stores for ice, food, etc. If you want to experience Pismo Beach for the dunes, this is the place to stay. If you are there jus to camp, I'd recommend finding something elsewhere.

Endless hiking trails and whale watching await

Stayed at Bird Creek for 2 nights while car camping/traveling through Alaska. Very clean faculties, lots of space between sites and countless activities. We spent most of our time hiking in and around the area. Many cool and unique hikes including one where you have to use a manual pulley thing to get across a huge river. We also went looking for Beluga whales in Turnagian Arm which is just across the way from the campground. If you didn't bring binoculars, don't worry. The state has many of them posted up along the side of the road.

First to Review
Easy spot for a quick overnight

Spent one day as a quick overnight waiting out weather on Mt. Hood. Small campground with basic amenities. Sites are nicely spaced out and with all the trees you will have privacy no matter what site you choose. We didn't have a reservation and found a spot easily on the weekend in May. Be sure to check in with the camp host and pay the camping fee.

Camping on Mt. Hood

There was really no where to mention that you can actually camp on Mt. Hood so I used the closest campground. If you are looking for winter camping in the summer, Mt. Hood is the place to go. Obtain a self permit from the visitor's center at the base of the mountain and you can camp anywhere above the ski lift. Most people camp overnight if summiting Mt. Hood but you can still do it even if you are just hiking. It is not a technical climb therefore no crampons or ice axe are necessary. It's a great place if you want to practice self arrest or any other mountaineering technique. No one is usually on the mountain at night so you would have it all to yourself. Truly amazing!

Bare bones camping in a sea of white

White Sands National Park primitive campsites are truly for those who understand how to camp and be completely self sufficient. There are no amenities and you must hike everything in and back out. Absolutely no trash should be left out there. I recommend this campsite during the spring or fall because temperatures are so brutal during the day during the summer months. It's about a mile hike to get out to the primitive area with zero shade. Even though you aren't climbing a mountain, hiking in sand poses its own challenges so be prepared to work those leg muscles. If you are up for the challenge, you will be rewarded with a beautiful, sandy sea of white for miles and miles. Unlike anything you have ever seen.

A historic place to camp

Located on Amelia Island, Fort Clinch offers a variety of campsites throughout the park. There are tons of activities for both children and adults. Miles of hiking, biking, swimming. Really anything you can think of to do with the family. Tons of wildlife including alligators. The history of Fort Clinch is also very unique and provides an opportunity to learn while you camp. Most sites are shaded with Spanish moss trees. If the beach is something you are after, there's a 3 mile shore line with white sandy beaches and a pier to fish off. Be sure to bring a hat cause the sun is very intense and there is no shade along the beach or pier.

A water lovers paradise in Florida

Little Talbot Island campground is a great place for anything water related and a nice retreat from the crowds at Fernadina Beach. Most of the sites are shaded which is important to have with the Florida heat. There are many options for kayaking, bird watching and fishing. For kayaking, I recommend using Kayak Amelia. The staff were super helpful and gave us a lot of tips on where to go and what we would see.

The most secluded campsite you will ever find

Wonder Lake campground is the furthest campground in Denali National Park. About 85 miles from the entrance. It is only accessible by bus which takes about 4.5 hours to get there but definitely worth it. The bus ride alone has some of the most spectacular scenery around. Not to mention you get views of North America's highest peak. The campground has everything you will need but be sure to use the HUGE bear storage room where everyone has to store their food both day and night. The bears are everywhere so use it. Overall, it's absolutely beautiful and if you plan to camp I highly recommend this one.

Cute Hillside Campground

A small "city" campground located on the hill above Homer. Beautiful scenery all around. These sites are first come, first served. It has the basic amenities including picnic tables, fire rings, pit toilets and potable water. Easy access to town if needed.

Nice spot for taking in nature

Marion mountain is located about 6 miles north of the town of Idyllwild and offers shaded campsites and basic car camping amenities. The campsites are fairly spaced out offering privacy to take in all nature has to offer. This is a great place to camp if you plan to hike Mount San Jacinito via the Marion Mountain trail because the trailhead starts in the campground.

Lakeside camping in the mountains

We stayed at Lake Hemet during a weekend in August and it was super crowed and hot. It has all the amenities to make for great car camping and fishing but a bit too noisy. Would be a great place for to camp with children. RV's and tents welcome. There's even a store at the entrance of the park if you need any last minute items you forgot. It's about 15 mins from Idyllwild if you want to escape the heat and/or do a little hiking.

First to Review
Valley Camping with a View

Hurkey Creek Park is located on the other side of Lake Hemet. Campsites are well shaded in some areas and if you reserve a spot at the back of the park you will have an amazing view of The San Jacinito mountain range. Clean bathrooms with showers, well maintained grounds, a private children's area and very nice front desk staff. Seemed much quieter than Lake Hemet campground and not as crowded.

Little Thomas Mountain Yellow Post Campsites

Located in the Santa Rosa mountain range, the yellow post campsites of Little Thomas are free and offer very minimal amenities. Depending which site you have there's a picnic table. Not much shade on any of the sites so be prepared if going in the summer. To get there, turn off on the dirt road located just passed Lake Hemet on 6S13. The first site is on the left side just after you pass the gate. About 0.25 miles. It's super close to Lake Hemet so if you need anything you forgot, you can go quickly to the store. It's also only a 15 min drive to Idyllwild which makes it a great place if all the campgrounds are full.

Idyllwild Yellow Post Campsites for Tahquitz

There are 2 yellow post campsites located about 5 miles from the city center that are free to camp in. Each site has a total of 8 camping spots that are first come, first serve. The road leading up to the sites is a bit bumpy as its paved only half way but my Honda Civic made it just fine. It's a primitive area with only a picnic table. It's a great place to camp if you plan to hike the South Ridge of Tahquitz.

Great spot for quick camping outside San Diego

William Heise campground is a great spot if you live in San Diego and want to get away for a weekend. It has miles of trails and with a little altitude it makes for a good place to train. The sites are roomy and fairly spread out. In other words, you don't feel like you are on top of your neighbors. There are clean bathrooms and showers.

Ingraham Flats via Camp Muir

There was no other place to discuss Ingraham flats so I put it under Camp Muir. Ingraham Flats is another mountaineering "camp ground" located 1.5 miles passed Camp Muir. This site is generally occupied my climbers attempting to summit Rainier. It's a great place to practice crevasse reacue and general mountaineering skills. From Camp Muir, you will need to be roped up while traversing the glaciers to Ingraham Flats. The views are incredible so if you have extra time before summiting Rainier, I suggest staying overnight at Ingraham.

First to Review
Great base camp if looking to climb Mount Lamarck

This is a great camp ground located at the trailhead for Mount Lamarck. Lots of running water near just about any of the camp sites. During the summer, mosquitos are quite pesky so be sure to bring lots of repellent. If looking to camp away from the crowds, continue up the Mount Lamarck trail and camp near Upper Lake.

Trail Camp via Whitney Portal trail

If you are hiking the highest peak in the conteninal U.S, you have 2 options. You can either hike all 22 grueling miles in one day or break it up into two by camping at Trail Camp. It is located about 6 miles from the Whitney Portal parking area and provides a great base camp for summiting. There is a nice lake to collect water from. Beware of the many marmots that will raid your camp.

High Camp via Vivan Creek Trail

If you live in Southern California and haven't climbed the highest peak, you need to get out there and experience nature. Hiking San Gorgonio via the Vivan Creek trail is a must do for anyone looking to ease themselves into backpacking. Even though the summit can be reached in a day, I recommend this trail to beginner backpackers and stay overnight at High Camp. The scenery is beautiful and there is usually a small creek running through so you don't need to worry about water. It's a great base camp for summiting the next day.