I went camping again last night, with much better results.
I started out at the “trailhead” at the Asbury College challenge course. I had pitched my tent, and was settling in and reading, when the manager for the property arrived. Although, of course, I suspected, I never knew for sure what the policy was about random strangers (or even Alumni) camping on this property. I can now tell you without any doubts that the policy is “No, don’t do that.”
Due in part, I think, to my RailTrail bumper sticker (he had one too), rather than just chasing me off in shame, he suggested a couple of other places, with the caveat that it would take a little doing to get there. I picked one of these places, and I’ll probably post the corrdinates, as soon as my GPSr finishes syncing.
Since I didn’t have a decent pack yet, I had rather counted on driving to the camp site, and didn’t really have stuff in a format that was easy to carry. But it was only about a half mile, so it wasn’t a big deal. I left some of the stuff behind, and carried my tent, sleeping bag, and a satchel of other stuff, up to the spot.
Turns out that getting chased away from my chosen spot was the best thing that could have happened. It was absolutely gorgeous up there. There was a little firepit, a stone wall, and a view down into the Kentucky River. I didn’t take any pictures of the place, as it was getting rather dark. I’m not certain I even had my camera with me. Sunset was at 9:04 yesterday, and I had about 30 minutes to get set up.
On the way up to the campsite, I came out into a clearing, and there was a large doe perhaps 150 feet away. We stood and watched each other for about 3 minutes. Then, when I started moving again, she bounded off into the bushes.
After it started getting dark, the frogs started. There were two different songs – two species, I presume – and they were *LOUD*. There were crickets, too, but they were much quieter.
I went for a little walk in the dark. I have a head lamp, which is 2 white LEDs and is very bright. I saw, down the hill from where I was camping, a pair of eyes reflecting the light. They were close to the ground, and fairly close together. I don’t know what it was, but later in the night – maybe 3 or 4 in the morning – I heard a coyote, and a bunch of dogs barking at it. The coyote sang for quite some time.
The other big advantage of being a fair hike from the Jeep is that there’s less incentive to pack up and wimp out. You kinda have to stick it out until the sun comes up, since lugging all that stuff in the dark would be less than safe.
Although it was a new moon last night, it was still very bright, which was a bit of a disappointment. I’m not sure where the light was coming from, but I HATE LIGHT POLLUTION.
Anyways, I’ve wanted a decent pack for some time, and the hike up the hill with my tent and my sleeping bag in my arms, along with the fact that a nice check arrived from Big Nerd Ranch, persuaded me to go ahead and get one. I got the North Face MG55, which is probably more pack than I need, but I think that it’s a worthwhile investment. North Face makes the best camping equipment you can buy, and it should last at least as long as I’m capable of carrying it. The only problem I see so far is that I have a cheap Walmart sleeping bag which doesn’t compress very well, and so I have to hang it below. Perhaps this isn’t a big deal, but could get cumbersome for longer hikes. We’ll see, the first time I actually use it. Perhaps I’ll go back up to this spot next weekend, and see how it works out.
Or perhaps I’ll take Phydeaux up on his offer.