The first camping and hiking trip of the season went well. It gave me ample opportunity for both solitude, rest, making new friends and physical activity.
I arrived at HW Marion State Park Campground around 4 yesterday. It was a little tighter and cramped for space than I am used to while camping outdoors, even for a State Park. The facilities were sparse, and the proximity to others close, but it still made for a decent spot to pitch a tent. Being October, it’s getting chilly here in Ohio. I was more than happy to dive into my shelter, wrap up in my puffer jacket and take a nap before dinner.
As I lay there drifting off to sleep I listened to the sounds of the family adjacent to my site. A father, wife, grandmother and a young son. I was once again flooded with memories of my parents taking us camping as kids with my grandparents in an adjoining lot. Breece corner in a wooded private lot as it were.
I woke up, put on my camp shoes and started to make dinner. My last package of Dottie’s Chicken and Biscuits. While packing yesterday. I noticed the TSA confiscated my Toaks stove and my Esbit fuel. The stove probably because of the fuel residue, but my heat shield and spork. Really? Ah well, I had my trusty JetBoil for this weekend. Almost like an old friend as it was one of my big things I got from 2017 when I first began to combat anxiety by getting back outdoors. Away from 911. Surrounded by nature. Forcing myself to remember to live without fear for the sake of living. No choice.
After cleaning up, I dove back into the shelter, stripped down, donned my long johns, wool socks, knit hat, light gloves and crawled into my sleep sack with my small movie player. Before turning on a film, I once again listened to the sounds all around me. The muted sound of 80’s music, campfires, people talking, drinking, laughing. It was a pretty beautiful moment actually. Even if I didn’t muster the energy to raise my own campfire, it was nice to experience everything around me in a shared sense of the simple joy of being someplace where collective good times were being had.
I woke up a couple times in the night, got out, walked around a bit and looked at the few stars I could see through the trees. The rain started somewhere around 3 am or 4 am by my guessing. The sound of it served to knock me back out into a dream-ridden deep sleep. Gently impacting upon my tent cover as it fell through the tree cover, still green with the passing summer. The cool 39 degree, and crisp, air outside contrasting with my body heat filled one man tent that I was nestled inside. Warm, sleeping and happy. I slept 9 hours in fact. It’s amazing what the outdoors can do for our general health and patterns.
I got up the next day, broke camp early and went into Circleville to have breakfast before the Hike Ohio group was to meet at 10 am for the Lake Hargus trail loop. There were about 30 or so of us. I had to tie my boot lace one more time so I ended up bringing up the rear, which was fine, but there were a couple folks who were really physically struggling. One guy made me nervous, and several other hikers as well. We all gave him the full path ahead without complicating things by passing him. Some distance. I was afraid that he would suddenly tumble down one of the hills with his big wooden hiking stick flailing about like a baseball bat.
He eventually dropped off the trail with two other folks but we were effectively cut off from the larger group at that point. Still, the four of us made fast friends and we explored the trail system. Stumbling upon an old cemetery with dates like 186x, 1812, and so on, over these lichen-covered weathered headstones with barely visible writing. From there we caught the blue blazed lake trail and came upon great views of the shores, tree lines, walking through marinas and talking about fishing and canoeing/kayaking.
One of the guys I made friends with today talked about my camping last night and that I should have put a notice out about that on the group channel. I told him I opted not to because I didn’t want to sound creepy. He allayed those fears saying that a lot of people probably would have been into that. Thinking about that possibility made me consider what those campfire conversations would have looked like. So yeah, maybe next time John.
The five of us, we picked up a latecomer, ended our excursion with lunch at Brew Dog. I’d had their beers before, but I’d never been to the facility in Washington Courthouse before. Totally awesome. Really enjoyed the place.
Next up is a 13-mile hike in Great Seal Park this coming Sunday. I plan to not fall behind on this one, shoelaces first, and try to camp out again in the even smaller, non-reservable, campsites in the park. The cool thing about these two hikes is that they are super close to Columbus. Like within an hour or less. While I love Columbus, she always has a way of surprising me with these hidden gems. I’m looking forward to more weekends outdoors as the leaves fall from the trees and the shadows grow longer. There are definitely campfires in my future. I can almost smell them.