Chattahoochee Bend State Park: The Adventure Begins

Our first camping adventure together. We had both been camping when we were young, but now it was time for us to be in charge of everything, and we thought we were ready.

Chattahoochee Bend State park has a variety of campgrounds and was so easy to get to. Unlike some state parks, the GPS led us right to the entrance and other than a few trailheads, the park office and gift shop was the first thing you passed. It was so easy to sign in, pay our fees, and buy a some kindling sticks.

The paved road led us almost all the way to our campsite area. We pulled into a gravel parking area with trash cans, bathrooms with showers, and a travel dolly to help us bring over our camping gear to the site. Very thoughtful, convenient, and honestly helpful as hell.

I was so thankful for that dolly, we had brought much more than we needed.

We were the only campers that were out on the riverside platform campsites. If there had been more people it might not have been as nice seeing as the campsites were set up almost like a neighborhood with no real privacy.

After lugging all of our gear to our site, we had to learn  how to pitch a tent on a platform. We had not thought about it but ended up using all the wood and side posts to tie everything down. It worked nicely. Shorty after we looked over the map and decided to hit the trail so we would have enough time to make dinner before the sun went down.

The trail ran by the river with a watchtower about half a mile in. The trail is easy and twists going into the woods and back out to the water. It was fun and slightly challenging at points, going over little rocks and creeks, and it was great for our beginning level of experience. We explored the smaller trails that led off to the other campsite areas and made it about two miles down the river, we were hoping to make it to the primitive campsites (5.5 miles in), but food was calling.

After making dinner and washing ourselves and utensils up, we made it back to camp and made an attempt at making a fire. Regardless of how easy the Youtube videos and articles had made it seem, getting a fire going was something we were not good at. After several frustrating attempts, we decided to stick to the light of our lantern and hoped that it wouldn’t get too cold overnight.

When we finally headed into our tent for the night, we could start to see that we weren’t that prepared. Though we had brought sleeping bags and several extra blankets to keep us warm and to use as pillows, the wooden platform was far less than comfortable, our blankets and body heat were not keeping us as warm as we wanted, and the sound of animals scurrying around in the night kept us awake. It was interesting! But we enjoyed the learning experience and, as you can tell, we did not let it deter us from continuing to explore, camp, hike, and adventure. We learned a lot from that first night camping.

For any beginning campers out there, seriously invest in a sleeping mat. Doesn’t have to be the crazy expensive or huge, fat ones; but a little cushion goes a long way. Also, think about the camping style you like and the weight of it, you definitely don’t want to be carrying extra on your back.

Although the next morning was still very cold and we were tired, it didn’t mean that we were giving up on a good adventure.

We spent the morning taking in the beauty of our campsite and taking our time packing our things back up. We might not have been as prepared as we thought we were going to be, but we honestly learned a lot about the essentials. What more can you ask for in an adventure?

Also, to this day a fire is still hard to make.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Allison Campos Astorga

Born and raised in Costa Rica. Photographer currently in Florida. Quit my job, moved with my girlfriend and dog. Made adventure happen in my life.