On a recent visit to New River Trail State Park, Joe Elton caught a glimpse of a tent in the Millrace Campground that sits in a remarkably beautiful setting along what’s known as Foster Falls on the New River. The falls are really a series of steps creating challenging and stunning rapids in the river as it drops what appears to be more than ten feet over the course of a 500’ stretch of water.
The tent, Elton learned, was an LL Bean four season model that was “comfortable” at temperatures that got down to about 9 degrees Fahrenheit according to Andy Tucker from Charlotte, North Carolina. Tucker and two chums decided December 7 – Pearl Harbor Day – would be a good time to bike New River Trail and camp at trail-side campgrounds along the way.
Tucker was the only member of the trio on hand at about 8am when Director Elton approached the campsite to see what hardy soul would choose to sleep outside under such severe conditions. His fellow travelers had set out to find a local store that had hot coffee and biscuits.
When they say it’s a small world – turns out to be the case in this instance as Joe Elton introduced himself and asked some basic questions such as how’s it going, where you from, did your gear make sleeping tolerable? When Tucker said he was from Charlotte and they were pretty comfortable in the new tent and sleeping bags it triggered some more questions, such as what do you do? Turns out that Andy was on the Greenway Staff in the Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Department until his entire department was eliminated in recent budget cuts. That means he has worked on trails like New River. But that isn’t what made it a small world. Elton’s son Alex and Tucker worked together on that Greenway staff until the younger Elton moved to northern Virginia and an Arborist job with Bartlett Tree Experts last spring.
The senior Elton holds Tucker and his chums in high regard since they braved the frigid temperatures as they created great memories none of them will soon forget. The kind of memories that will surely fuel more vacations in the outdoors.