My Adventure Story
October 1 - Day 1
My birthday backpacking trip! We dropped T-dog off at the kennel on Friday morning then headed up to Harpers Ferry, Iowa, home of the Yellow River State Forest. Missed a turn off because of a GPS glitch and ended up driving along the Mississippi in Wisconsin instead of Iowa. It was a beautiful mistake! Crossed the Mississippi into Lansing, Iowa then turned North toward the forest. Signs were great and the forest was very easy to find. We parked in the backpack parking area and filled out the sign in card. When we tried to put the card in the box, it was jam-packed already. Didn't give me much confidence that they would know if anyone was lost out there. Hmm! So we took off from the parking lot along the trail just North of the river east toward the Heffern's Hill camp. Hiking was mainly on forest service roads shared with horses and cyclists. Not much evidence of cyclists but lots of manure from the horses along the way. Eventually, we hit a single track just for hikers that took us right to the camp area. It was quite large. Three separate sites with their own fire pits. The top site, where we chose to stay, also had a little warming hut for skiers and possibly hunters. We set up camp near the fire pit as it seemed to be getting a little chilly as the afternoon wore on. Cooked up some curry chicken in a freezer bag and fed Bear Bell. We started hearing what sounded like gunshots about this time. That seemed a little odd but we figured there might be a shooting range nearby. We took a little walk to see what we could see and came upon a group of men with guns. Disconcerting! So back up to our camp we went where we hung out by the fire until the raindrops became actual rain. Into the tent for some reading. I had a hard time sleeping for some reason. I kept hearing noises and worrying about men with guns running around the woods. Of course there was also the one-armed man with hook who just broke out of jail that was also lurking somewhere.October 2 - Day 2
My birthday! What a great way to wake up... in the woods! It was cold and overcast! Not what the forecast had forecast. Oh well. Got the fire going again. Breakfast of rice and dried fruit for us and kibble for Bear Bell. We slowly started packing things up to get moving. Of course it takes us a little longer because we're not that experienced. But I feel like we have packed well. I was worried that we might overpack... especially me! Off we went down the single track toward more double track. On the way out of the camping area, we spoke briefly with a couple and their 2 large dogs who had camped in the first area. We went back to the entrance to the equestrian campground then turned left to cross the bridge over the river. We followed that double track with cornfields on the right and the river on the left. It was really quite beautiful with the changing of the colors. This road became somewhat hilly... rolling I guess they're called. Eventually we passed a turnoff to what looked like singletrack to the Fire Tower. About 2 miles in or so, there was a turn off toward Brown's Hollow Camp. We took that and were soon in the middle of that campground. Again 3 fire pits but a very large open area not separated by anything. It was about 12:30pm by this point so we needed to decide whether to go on, eat lunch and go on, or just stop here to camp. We decided to eat lunch and go on. There were already 3 tents in one area and it seemed a little too open for our liking. Of course, we had no idea what the next sites would be like but we decided to chance it. For lunch, chicken with curry on pita. Different than what was for dinner. In fact, until I just wrote that I had forgotten we'd had chicken with curry for dinner and lunch. Got everything packed up again and were on our way. More rolling doubletracks. Not far from the campground, an older couple asked to take a photo of Emma Blue because she's just too damn cute for words with her pack on. Up and down a bit more until there was a sign for Ash Trail to the left. The trail was totally covered by leaves such that I wasn't really sure it was even a trail. But I could see another sign ahead and according to the map there were no other turnoffs to the left like this. So... down into a steep ditch and back up to singletrack almost entirely covered by leaves. This was the steepest part of the trip so far. The trail ended up being relatively easy to follow. Periodically we would stop and look for a sign further ahead to indicate we were going the right direction. We always were so the markings were adequate. We eventually to the other end of that Fire Tower trail that we had passed and ran into a group of about 10 young girls with 2 women leaders. Cute! They also asked to take photos of Emma Blue. Her head was getting almost big enough to fit her big ears at this point! ha! Another 1/2 mile or so and we were at the entrance to Camp John Schultz. There was only 1 fire ring and there were already 3 tents in the space. So we worried that the other site might have been better. Then Bozo realizes there is another area. That area has 2 fire rings and no one is camping there yet. So we grabbed the one we liked and got set up. Got the fire started right away in case it started getting cold like it had the previous night. It got colder!! Dinner was salmon couscous. Yummy!! Then Bozo brought freeze dried cheesecake with chocolate chunks for my birthday cake. YUMMY! My gift were an eton Scorpion (orange) and travel National Park Yahtzee! Awesome! So we took out the Yahtzee game and started playing on a log. While I was shaking the can at one point, a family of hunters were "sneaking" by. They jumped and looked at us like we'd scared away their game. But we'd seen no "game" except Yahtzee! lol Very strange to be sitting in a campsite with hunters walking by with rifles. It didn't feel terribly safe to me. As it got darker, it got much colder. The forecast called for low 50s. I have no idea. But it was cold! So into the tent we went where we watched "Get Him To the Greek" on my little iPod Nano. lol An amazing thing! Interesting movie... combination of very funny and very very disturbing. I'm not sure I would recommend it.October 3 - Day 3
We woke to frost on the ground. I told you it was cold! Bozo got up and got the fire started again. That certainly helped. Bear Bell had drunk most of the rest of our water through the night so we decided to just pack it up and head out to the car where I could make breakfast with the water we had there. Of course we had to sit and enjoy the fire for a little while first. And we had some dried fruit and nuts to keep hunger at bay. Bear Bell was also a little stiff so we wanted to give her time to warm up and be ready. Honestly, I suppose that was the case for all of us after a cold night. We were able to pack up pretty quickly though the tent was still pretty wet from the frost. Then I shook the rainfly and accidentally got the sleeping pads wet. Oops! We were out of there around 10:30am. We walked back toward Ash Trail but then took a left toward "Headquaters." lol I love signs with misspelling! Must have been made by someone in New Yawk! So the uphill singletrack we did yesterday became downhill singletrack today. Yay! That was much easier. Though I know eventually downhill can become very difficult and painful, it did not this time. We made it out to the car in about 45 minutes. Not bad! When we got there some people from the other campsite that we'd waved to as we left were sitting at their car. Apparently they had take the Fire Tower Road and it was much quicker. But we weren't looking for quick as we wanted to draw this out as much as possible. As we were changing clothes and getting things put away, the group of girls with their leaders also came out. They were very excited about being back at the car and were very cute about it! Back on the road toward home, we stopped at a cafe along the river in Lansing, Iowa for some lunch. There were still many signs of the flooding from last week apparent. On the road and home. An awesome first backpacking trip for Bozo and a great Birthday Backpacking Trip for myself!!