Thursday, July 17, 2014

Camping Indian Cave Or "I've Never Seen So Many Daddy Longlegs In My Life!"

Last night I went for my second ever overnight camping experience.  This time I went to Indian Cave State Park.

While I planned for months for my first overnight camp, this time I pretty much packed the day before.  I had an idea of where I was going to camp but that changed the night before as well.  I'd originally planned to camp somewhere on the East Ridge Trail part of Indian Cave.  Instead I picked two camps as first and second choices on trails to the west of the East Ridge trail.  The campsites I picked were a bit more remote ... though we are only talking a mile or two at most to the first campsite.

I drove down yesterday afternoon, paid for a one day pass and a campsite fee and headed for the designated backpacker parking nearest to my first choice.  I get there and the parking lot was closed due to road work and river dredging.  I turned around and went to the another parking lot about a half mile up the road.

I geared up, sprayed Deet on my pants to ward off ticks ... but I decided not to spray my arms until I got to the campsite.  This would end up being a mistake.  I ended up getting a slew of bites on my elbows before I reached my final campsite.

My final campsite was neither my first nor my second choice.  I followed the map that I'd picked up at the gate to what I thought was the location of the first campsite.  I found nothing there.  I moved on to the location of the second campsite ... and once again found nothing.  I suspect they were both overgrown.  Several of the trails I was on were overgrown in spots and were in need of some tender loving care.  After adding a couple miles to my short hike looking for these two campsites, I decided to follow a sign to an Adirondack shelter instead.

An Adirondack shelter is a building with a floor, three walls, and a ceiling.  The front of the building is open.  The shelter was perched at the end of a ridge and was surrounded by trees and tall brush.  A fire ring was about five feet from the open end of the shelter.  There was very little flat land around the shelter to put up my tent.  I decided this would be a good opportunity to try out something.  Some campgrounds, including some along the Appalachian Trail, have raised wooden platforms for people to tent on.  This is great if you have a freestanding tent but my ultralight tent is not freestanding - it requires tent stakes pushed into the ground.  The floor of the shelter would be a good place to test a solution to this problem.
Second Camp 2014-07-16_002
My tent pitched in an Adirondack shelter - not the proper way to use an Adirondack shelter.
Now, the proper way to use an Adirondack shelter is to place you sleeping pad/bag combination on the floor and not pitch your tent.  You are not supposed to pitch you tent inside the shelter like I ended up doing.  I'm sure I was breaking some unwritten camping rule but I had a couple good reasons:  to test pitching the tent without test stakes and to avoid all the critters in the shelter.

Anticipating (though not expecting to do this during my second camp) I packed four screw in hooks.  I screwed the hooks into the floor of the shelter and used them instead of the tent stakes.  They worked great.  They were actually better than tent stakes as they wouldn't pull out when tension was added to the tie down cords.  Note to self: be careful where you put the hooks - they like to fall between the slats in the floor and can be hard to fish out once they do - a hard learned lesson.
Second Camp 2014-07-16_001
Using a screw in hook instead of a tent stake.
My tent has a floor and mesh walls to keep the insects out.  A rain fly covers the tent to keep out the elements and provide some privacy.  One of the mesh wall's functions is to keep out insects.  I was very grateful for the mesh.  It really wasn't the mosquitoes so much - they were a problem - but the wasp warning worried me a bit and the dozens of Daddy Longlegs just creeped me out.

I built a fire ... even though I had a lighter, it took me way too long .  I will have to work on my fire starting skills.  I have a few ideas to try next time.  I ate my dehydrated meal (beef stroganoff - Yum) and spent most of the evening reading, shooing away the daddy longlegs exodus who apparently thought the setting sun meant "let's leave the shelter" no matter if I was in the way, and playing with the Hiker TV (i.e. the fire).

I went to bed around 10:00 PM after watching the clouds turn red and pink from the sunset.  My sleep was a bit restless but I ended up sleeping more than on my first camping trip.  I think I'm just a little bit too anxious to sleep well.  With more camping trips I will be less anxious and I will sleep better.  Add in a little hiker exhaustion and I will sleep like a baby.

I woke up this morning with the first light.  I spent a minute knocking off all the daddy longlegs who thought the outside of my tent would be a great place to hang out during the day before I packed up my camp and returned home.  A successful second camp.  Time to plan for my third.

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