In the midst of this never-ending winter, we snuck in a camping weekend at Medoc Mountain State Park. I felt like we pulled a fast one on Mother Nature. She must have been busy elsewhere, causing floods or droughts or some other nastiness. For a change we had sunshine and blue skies.
I've written before about the beauty of this park in North Carolina, and how we only visit in early spring and late fall because of a certain insect overpopulating the woods. Honestly I thought this time we'd be safe from the ticks, due to the many below-freezing nights we've had. But we still saw a few of the loathsome things. Fortunately I had applied Toby's topical prevention in advance. We didn't let the bugs deter us.
We arrived Friday afternoon and quickly set up our forest green tent. I spread the vinyl tablecloth over the scarred picnic table, unfolded the camp chairs by the fire pit, and filled Toby's water dish. Ted unloaded the cooler and bought wood from the camp host while Toby and I gathered a nice stack of kindling. With hours of daylight left, there was plenty of time for a hike. It felt great to get out on the trail after sitting in the car.
It was chilly once the sun went down. Toby slept all night, nose curled under his tail. At seven he was ready to start the day, which he announced by pushing his nose under the sleeping bag and snuffling excitedly all around my head. I buried myself deeper, hoping Ted would get up and take him out (and make the all-important coffee). Which he did. Morning people. What would we do without them?
After a pot of coffee and cereal (us) and kibble (Toby), we packed lunch. I filled a water bladder for us and two smaller ones for Toby to carry in his backpack along with his foldable bowl. Ted had planned a 9 mile hike, taking us on all of the park's trails but two. As the sun rose it got steadily warmer...and then actually hot by lunchtime.
For much of the day we hike along the Little Fishing River. I was hoping to see river otters but we had to settle for a water snake (not a poisonous one). The little rapids in the river were roaring, glittering in the sun. Very few people were out on the trails. Toby rarely had to be leashed.
Watching a dog enjoying himself, tail up, eyes bright, big grin with tongue hanging out, is a great way to spend a day. He took a nice deep sleep when the hike was done, under the picnic table in the shade, as he loves to do. Ted and I drank our beer and watched the sun go down over the trees. On Sunday we got another hike in before barely beating the rain home.
My consolation, now that it's cold with more snow on the way, is that weekends like this will start happening more and more as we roll into summer.
Let the camping season of 2014 begin!