Homer's Travels: Lucky Camp #7 At Indian Cave State Park

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lucky Camp #7 At Indian Cave State Park

Spring flowers near my campsite.
I went on my seventh camp on Tuesday night at Indian Cave State park.  This was the location of my second camp back in July of last year.  Indian Cave has two types of back country campsites: ones with shelters and ones without.  I'd intended to camp at a shelterless campsite last year but had trouble finding one and settled on camping in one of the adirondack shelters instead.  For this camp I was going shelterless.

The hike to the campsite location, on Rock Bluff Run trail, was short - just over a half mile.  I had an idea where it was as I'd hiked past it several years ago.  When I reached a bench with great views towards the East, I thought I'd passed the campsite. As I contemplated this I noticed what looked like a game trail heading into the trees behind the bench.  I followed the trail and, about twenty feet in, I found the campsite fire ring.  It's strange that most of the sheltered campsites have signs but none of the shelterless campsites are marked.

My campsite looking upslope. The bench is in the upper right corner.
The campsite was a bit slanted.  The only level ground was around the fire ring.  Putting you tent up next to the fire is not a great idea so I ended up putting my tent up on the trail leading to the campsite.  It wasn't flat but the slant appeared manageable.  I guess practice makes perfect as the tent went up in record time and looked more like the pictures than on any of my other camps.

At this point I usually take out my tablet and read.  I've found that solo camping can be a bit boring.  Reading seems like the easiest way to fill the time.  I am sure I will not have this problem on the Appalachian Trail as there will always be people to talk to at the shelters/campsites.  I'm not as sure about my Rocky Mountain Trip later this summer.

I sat on the bench on the main trail and pulled up the book on my kindle app: Jim Jackson's "Camping and Cooking for Beginners: Tools and Tips to Living in the Great Outdoors".  I'd heard about it on Section Hiker, a blog that I read.   The blog pointed out that the book was free for the day and he described it as a "Kindle Bestseller".  I opened the book and realized it was only fifty-eight pages long.  More an ePamphlet than an eBook (which is why I'm not including in my list of books read).  As I read it I realized that there was very little real information in the book.  As a matter of fact, the whole book felt like the introductory chapter to a longer book ... but it wasn't.  For example, in the chapter on sleeping bags, materials are not mentioned (i.e. down vs synthetic) and while the different shapes are listed (mummy, barrel, and rectangle) there are no descriptions of the different shapes and no mention of advantages or disadvantages of each shape.  The book just has the three types ... period.

The book is aimed at all types of camps from hiking campers to car campers but the recipes listed in the book, which all sound yummy, were obviously geared toward the car camper.  The recipes required things like eggs, and chilled items that no hiking camper would ever carry.  A nicer mix of recipes would have been helpful.

I ended up reading the whole thing in less than an hour and a half which left me with several hours of 'uh ... what do I do now?'.  I ate dinner - a single serving of chicken and rice.  All my other camp meals have all been two serving bags so this meal seemed a bit small.  Then again, this single serving provided 31% of the daily requirement of salt!  Crazy. For desert I had my first freeze dried ice cream sandwich.  It looked exactly like an ice cream sandwich but ate more like a cookie.  The 'ice cream' was hard and crunchy, melted in your mouth, and tasted like the cheap store brand vanilla ice cream.  Not bad but not good either.

I built and tended my fire.  I kept it fairly small.  I didn't expect to be up late and I didn't want to have to wait for it to burn out before I went to bed.  I did light it in record time - thanks to the best tinder ever: cotton balls and vaseline.

I ended up going to bed early.  I was in my sleeping bag by 8:30pm.  I didn't think I was tired but I fell asleep fast.  I think it was the 32.7 mile (52.6 km) bike ride I'd done that morning finally catching up with me.  I woke up twice in the night.  The first time was a loud noise that wasn't canine or feline but sounded a bit bovine.  I didn't look to see but I think it was a male deer.  I think it must have come down the game trail and was surprised by my tent.  I listened while it made its hoot-honk-bray sound (sort of like this but not so extreme) until it slowly faded in the distance.

The second time was at 4:44am or at my normal seven to eight hour sleep length.  I fell right back asleep and woke up after the sun started peeking up.  That was probably the best sleep I've had during my camping trips.  Being tired from the bike ride and properly inflating my sleeping pad (i.e. not fully inflating it so it conforms to your body better) was probably what helped me sleep so well.  I did slide down a bit over night because of the slope but it wasn't an issue.

Next camp will be in early June, weather permitting, before the Wife and I go on our New England vacation.  I purchased a steel and flint firestarter and I want to play with it on my next camp.

A few pictures taken during this camp have been added to my 2009-2016 Indian Cave State Park Google Photos album.

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