On Tuesday, May 4th a friend and I loaded up my Honda with several days worth of supplies and headed to Buckhorn State Park in Necedah, Wisconsin for our first camping trip of the season. We were excited for this trip because we had discovered the most perfect remote hike-in campsite while hiking in this park on my birthday in March. The spacious site was right on the water and well distanced from any other site in the campground, giving us a sense of privacy that is hard to come by in most established campgrounds these days. It had several trees that were perfect for hanging a hammock as well. The downside was that we had to haul all of our stuff in via a 0.7 mile trail. Luckily, the campground provided assigned hand carts to help make the hauling a bit easier.
As hard as we tried to pack just the essentials, we still managed to have quite a bit of stuff making it necessary for us to use two carts to haul things in on the initial trip. We then took both carts back to the trailhead and loaded up on firewood making one more trip back to the site that day. Once back at the campsite, we set up our tents and got ourselves situated. We quickly discovered that we were not as alone as we thought at our campsite. When we first heard the water splashing, we thought it was the waves coming into shore. We soon realized that it was not the waves but actually carp, splashing around. That is when it dawned on us that it was mating season and the carp were relentless. Day and night, the splashing never stopped. Nature sure is dedicated to making certain the cycle of life keeps moving.
Over the next few days, I enjoyed reading a book, taking video of the carp, watching the sunlight dance on top of the lake water, and trying out some new dehydrated meals by the campfire, noting some are better than others. The first night was difficult in the sense that it got very cold and I was missing Cole terribly, my tried and true friend and built in camping heater. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t sad not having him there. The site would have been perfect for him as it was secluded and he could have easily been off leash with no worries of him seeing another dog walk by or wander off to make friends with neighbor campers as they cooked food he could not resist exploring. He would have loved exploring all of the trees and plants and marking the perimeter of our site, letting other animals know this was his pack’s spot. Even though Cole was tiny, there was a self of safety I still felt having him in my tent at night. It is certainly a new experience to camp without him and one that is going to take time to adjust to.
The second night we knew it was going to rain but my weather app said we had until 10:00 or 11:00 pm before that would start. We did get prepared early by covering all of our outdoor stuff with a tarp to keep everything dry and thank goodness we did because the rain came much earlier than expected and we had to retreat to our tents around 8:30 pm which cut our campfire time short, negating the need for the second firewood trip we did earlier that day. In the hurry to get into our tents before we got too wet, we managed to hang our garbage bag too low from the tree so within an hour or two of being in our tents, the raccoons quickly shredded the bag to help themselves to the treasures inside. This was the first time my tent had been used during a heavy rainstorm and I was pleasantly surprised that it mostly held up. In the morning, I noticed some water had made it’s way in but I think it was because of the way Coleman designed the hole in the corner to run an electrical cord through. I think a little duct tape on that and my tent will be water tight again.
On our last day at camp, we were enjoying a leisurely morning when we received short notice that an unexpected rain storm was on its way. We hurriedly packed up our site, loaded everything onto our cart and wagon and set off down the trail, trying to make it to our car before the rain started. Unfortunately, we did not make it in time but luckily the rain was short lived and actually a bit welcomed in keeping us cool while we did the hard work of lugging our overstuffed carts down the trail. When we finally arrived at the car, there was a huge sigh of relief that we had done it! A bit sleep-deprived, sweaty, and smelly, we survived our first hike-in camping trip. We both agreed we would do it again sometime but not this year. Despite the hard work, the sore muscles, the cold, the rain, and the ticks, it was a good time and I’m glad we did it.