Homer's Travels: Camp #10 - The Third Return To Hitchcock Nature Center

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Camp #10 - The Third Return To Hitchcock Nature Center

It's been over a year since the last time I went camping.  The last time would have been August 2015 when I did a five day camp in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I decided to end the camping drought last night so I could test out a couple pieces of new equipment, namely my new tent and backpack.

Late afternoon sunlight reflecting off the pond near my campsite.
I've camped in Hitchcock Nature Center three times before.  Each time I picked different campsite from the six or so that are available.  These three had all been at the top of ridges.  This camp I picked one at the bottom of Fox Run Ridge next to a sizable pond.

A panorama of the pond from the campsite fire pit area.
The day was perfect for camping.  Temperatures were in the high 60s (about 20ºC) with a light breeze (probably because I was at the bottom of a valley - it was breezier at the top of the ridge).  The skies were mostly clear with just a wispy cloud here and there.  There was only a 10% chance of rain so I expected to remain dry.

The campsite is only a mile (1.6 km) from the trailhead and this is mostly downhill so it was an easy hike.  The tent pad (a sandy log framed area) was on the trail and the fire pit was a short distance away on a piece of land jutting out into the pond.  I took a look around the area before putting up my new Tarptent Rainbow tent.  [I will be posting about my new tent soon.]

One of my escorts as I walked along the edge of the pond.
I walked along one edge of the pond.  As I walked I was escorted by the sound of frogs jumping into the water from the pond's edge (there really wasn't a beach  ... just a sharp drop off with enough space for a frog to sun itself).Across the pond I could see a canoe.  It appeared to be on private property just outside the Nature Center's land.  The pond was good sized and had plenty of room for some canoeing.  The water's surface was smooth with only the wakes of small water insects to ripple the surface.

Water insects imitating small motor boats.
I sat by the fire ring and made my dinner.  I tried a new dehydrated meal by Good to Go.  I tried their Classic Marinara with Penne.  When I open the packet it instantly smelled wonderful.  The ingredients were all "real" food with no added chemicals,  The salt was 40% lower than the Mountain House meals which is a plus though it still had 15% of your daily salt requirement per serving.   The pouch had two servings but ... no one eats a half of a pouch so it was 30% of you daily salt requirements.  Yes, the Mountain House meals have close to 50% of the daily requirement per pouch (two servings).  Yeesh!

How was the penne?  The Good to Go meal had the same issue that the Mountain House Mac n Cheese had, namely the pasta was almost crunchy.  It is possible that I'm not heating the water enough but the water was boiling when I poured it into the bag to rehydrate the meal.  The flavor was good at the beginning but it strangely lost flavor as I got down to the bottom of the pouch.  The red pepper flakes gave the meal some heat which I'm not that fond of but it didn't hurt it that bad.  The heat might have been an attempt to pump up the flavor but it didn't quite succeed.

Some early autumn color.
The rest of the night was spent lighting a fire (flint, steel and  a Vaseline soaked cotton ball) and reading an ebook as the sun went down and the temperature dropped.  The fire kept me warm and I had enough layers to be comfortable.  As the fire dwindled, and I got a bit tired, a headed for the tent, stopping to look up at the stars.  The 10% chance of rain manifested itself as thin wispy clouds that didn't do too much damage to my star gazing.

I got in my tent and read some more until the two benadryl kicked in and I went to sleep.  The train tracks pass close to the park but the sound of the train and accompanying whistle didn't bother me as much as it did my other camping trip I wrote about here.  I fell asleep listening to the hooting of owls and the howling of coyotes.

It got down to around 45ºF (7ºC) overnight but I stayed nice and warm in my sleeping bag.  I woke up early in the morning to a screech which sounded like a cat in heat but I suspect it was a raccoon or opossum being threatened somewhere.  I rolled over and slept some more, getting up at 7:00am.

I packed up my backpack and tent.  I needed gloves.  My fingers were numb as I stuffed the tent in its bag.  The hike back to the car was quick.  Another successful camping trip under my belt.

I hope to camp again in October and, weather permitting, in November.

Pictures can be found in my 2014-2016 Camping in Iowa and Nebraska Google Photos album (scroll down to the bottom).

Oh yeah.  I found a new camping friend.

My new camping friend.

1 comment: