Toward the end of my college career, a few of my friends and I had a “tradition” (only 2 summers running) of taking a camping trip over the summer. A group of 5 of us would get together, borrow camping equipment from our parents’ basements, and set off for a Canadian destination for a few days of wilderness fun. But the last camping trip was years ago, and we’ve gone our separate ways since then. (This blog is actually old enough that you can read about the 2nd trip we took, in 2011, here, though.)
This year, Liz and I and Cheeks decided to revive the tradition. Liz's friend Nikki joined us, and for convenience’s sake, we opted to camp close to home this time, rather than making the 8 hour drive north to Canada. Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, WI seemed suitable.
So we arrived late on Sunday afternoon, set up our tent and campsite in a jiffy, and got to work preparing the customary “first night of camping dinner”: steak and potatoes over the grill.
|Wrangling the tent canopy|
The evening was then spent around the fire, making s’mores, s’moreos, and melting caramels between Ritz crackers while we chatted and laughed about all manner of topics.
The next morning, no one felt the need to fire up the camp stove for a big breakfast, so we took off and went hiking. We explored a trail that led us up along the edges of a bluff overlooking Devil’s Lake. We searched for Balanced Rock, and despite some misleading signs eventually found it.
|Balanced Rock is up this tree?!|
|Oh, there it is.|
Our last stop of the hike was Devil’s Doorway. We arrived, took a few great pictures (after we each shimmied up into the doorway).
photos by Nikki F.
And as we turned back to hike out again, the skies opened up and doused us in a downpour of rain. We couldn’t get our ponchos out quickly enough; we ended up drenched, and it was a soggy walk back to the car.
Back at the campsite, we assessed the damage. We’d expected rain that day, but not so early in the morning, so we hadn’t bothered to rainproof our campsite before leaving. The tent window had been left open, and one pillow inside was soaked. Our firewood had been drenched, but other than that, nothing had been ruined by the rain.
|Lunch (chili!) under the canopy to stay dry|
We decided to dry out our wet wood by building a little fire and putting the wood on the grate above our fire pit. We also strung up a line to dry out the rain ponchos and our socks. The rain held off for most of the rest of the day, and we ended up spending the majority of Monday sitting at our campsite, feeding our small fire damp wood and coaxing it to flame. We had gotten our hike in in the morning, and I was really quite content to spend the day in that way.
|Tea party as we dried out our wood, and our shoes, and our|
socks around the fire.
We did make a trip to the camp store and purchase dry wood for dinner, and we got the fire roaring for the evening.
The rain returned around 8:30pm, driving us into the tent for the night. We slept early, lulled to sleep by the sound of the rain on our roof. The next morning, we awoke to sunshine.
We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast cooked over a merry little fire. (Our love of fire is becoming apparent by this point, isn’t it?) When we were fed and happy, we set off for a hike in Parfrey’s Glen, which promised us a narrow gorge and a waterfall at the end.
The hike didn’t disappoint, and we found lots of great opportunities to stop and snap photos. (Thanks to Nikki for having a great camera and taking lots of pictures!)
photo courtesy of Nikki F.
|One of my favorites. Pride Rock and Simba, anyone?|
When we got back, we had time for one more fire (for lunch), and then it was time to pack up and head back home. Our camping trip was short but sweet, and it left me wanting to spend more time out in the woods! Even with a rainy day, we had an amazing time. I couldn’t have asked for anything better!