I went on a pretty last minute camping trip this weekend. Went two nights with Jamie, Tiffany, and their dog Chester, to Mosquito Lake. A cousin was a possibility for one night, but didn’t make it.
The idea was floated mid-day Thursday. I was reluctant at first because I need to get bulbs planted and other yard work done with the warm weather, plus I wouldn’t have much time to get ready. But I had my camping stuff partly ready from the last camping trip, and with the bathrooms at the park shutting down and a low chance of more warmish weekends this year, I decided to go for it. I did most of my packing Thursday night, cut out of work a little early, finished packing and shutting down my house, and headed off.
It was already solidly dark when I got to the campsite a bit after 6:30. It’s always hard to find the site when it’s dark, since they don’t make the numbers easy to see. The others arrived not long after. We started a fire and made dinner.
The site was among wooded and the ground was covered completely with leaves. We used the leaves for starting fire and had to move the rest away from the fire ring. The site was fairly large as park sites go and had empty woods behind it.
The picnic table was set over the parking curb at the end of the parking spot. The campfire ring was pretty far back from the road. We spent some time deciding where we wanted to set them up at. If we moved the ring close, we’d want to find a spot without grass or other plants under the leaves. We settled on moving the picnic table back by where the fire ring was, partly for the ease with the fire ring and the log “bench” nearby, and partly because we worried some neighbors would be boisterous (they weren’t).
They set up their tent fairly early on. I found my spot while they were setting up, but didn’t feel like pitching right then. I waited until after they had gone to sleep. It was dark and cold, but I had done it recently enough that I largely had no problems. Except: I set the stakes down under the tent on the ground cloth to have them close to the tent but avoid setting them in the leaves, then in my tired state forgot where I put them and then thought maybe I just hadn’t brought them at all. I just left it without stakes the first night. I though of it in the morning and found them, set them up later that day.
There were a decent number of people camping, including tent campers. A number of younger couples or small groups. We had a couple sites empty on either side the first night, but one adjacent the second night. Most were fairly quiet, though one nearby couple left their car door or hatch open at times and there was a constant beeping when they did, quiet but annoying.
Lots of coyotes howled occasionally late at night. Also some owls hooted. Before and around dawn, there were a ton of gunshots for duck hunting happening nearby. It was sometimes a lot in succession and coming from many directions, making it sound like a war zone.
It got cold quickly after dark. It was nice by the fire, but kept getting colder as the night wore on. We had not expected it to get that low when we saw the near 70s daytime forecast. It got down to 40 or lower overnight.
After dark, we spent most of the time around the fire and layered up. We burned through 3 bundles of wood the first night that they had bought coming in. For the second night we got 6 bundles, most of which went fairly quickly. We did have a little left over though since we went to bed early.
We didn’t bring our bedding for that low of temperatures. All of us were cold and didn’t sleep well that first night. I got very little sleep and struggled to get comfortable, trying to adjust my bedding and adding clothing. I fell asleep for short periods, then woke up again. The duck hunting gunshots helped keep me up some time before dawn. It was so cold outside my sleeping bag that I just lay there even when I knew I couldn’t fall asleep again. I finally pushed myself to endure the cold to get dressed and got out of the tent. I ate a Clif bar and sat in my car, idling with the heat on to keep warm. However, I was very cold and my toes were numb for quite a while, until well after the sun came up and raised the temperature.
The second night I slept much better by adding two things to the equation: I heated some water and put it in a water bottle that I stuck in my sleeping bag, and I added a fleece sleeping bag liner that I keep in my car put over the floor of the hatch storage area to keep it clean. Also, I was quite tired from the night before. With the additions, I was pretty comfortable, even almost cozy, except for my face and breathing the cold air. I kept my mouth within the bag the best I could to keep the air warm.
Dinner the first night was hot dogs and soup, simple to make, filling, and tasty. The second night we had a special mac & cheese pasta with ground beef. This was a fallback plan with what we had on hand, because we were originally planning spaghetti. The brought the ingredients, but forgot the sauce entirely. I had a box of mac & cheese, and they had the spaghetti and beef, plus some cheese and butter. Tiffany made a very rich sauce. Combining with the regular mac & cheese tempered it. Altogether, it made a very filling meal, and we couldn’t finish all of it. Though it was an impromptu concoction, it tasted good and satiated us.
They had instant ramen soup for lunch Saturday. I made a peanut butter pita.
Breakfasts were quick oatmeal. I also had a Clif bar and fruit each morning. I made little sandwich bags for my oats, but forgot the sugar. The first morning I put a marshmallow in, which worked well enough. The second morning, since we would be packing up soon, I just ate it plain. It was fine at first but got a bit bleh as I ate more of it. I used a banana and Clif bar to get some sweetness between spoonfuls.
I had some healthy snacks like dried chickpeas and apples. I also had some of their Doritos. I also had an occasional tea and bubble water.
Evenings, we mostly sat around the fire and talked. We did go on a walk Saturday night, just down to the lake and back.
I went for a walk by myself Saturday morning (when I was quite cold and hadn’t slept well) to the lake to see early morning sun and fog over the lake. With the fall colors, it was really nice looking.
We played a couple hands of Milles Bournes during the day. It had been a while since any of us played, and we had to explain it to Tiffany. I had to look up how to play three player, plus remind myself of a couple other rules and the scoring. I won the first hand. Jamie won the second in a game I did rather poorly in, leaving me in last place when we stopped to start the fire for the evening.
The disc golf
The main entertainment of Saturday during the day was 18 holes of disc golf. There was a course nearby that we had walked to last time, but were too tired to play then. This time we drove.
It had been years since I had played last, and I was definitely rusty. With all the hazards, I played very cautiously. I did fairly poorly, often 2+ above par. On ones that I did poorly on the drives, I seemed to do well on the putts, and vice versa. There was one I could’ve beat par with a good shot, but botched it and then botched the follow up putts.
The course was fairly wooded, with like half of the holes having fairways cut through forest. My throws always curve one way or the other, so I ended up hitting or in the trees a lot on those. Sometimes I’d bounce off the trees to my advantage though.
There were also some holes with water hazards. One had a marker like the normal starting markers that was across a little finger of the lake from the pin. It was the sort of distance where it seemed like it could be done, but would’ve had to be a good throw, and would be really easy to end up in the water. There was no tee pad there though: That was actually on the other side of the water, so the actual drive was close to but not across water. It was easy enough to avoid the water with cautious throwing.
The other water hazard hole had the pin just several feet from the lake, throwing at an angle toward the lake. That took quite cautious throwing and we all still overshot and ended up pretty close to the water. Luckily we were then throwing away from it.
One pin had the pin on this tiered earth mound so that putting was upward. I haven’t dealt with that before in disc golf, and it was hard to get in. I think I missed twice.
I lost one of Jamie’s discs on hole 17, on a big grassy field with scattered trees. It was lumpy terrain and leaves had gathered in some of the lower areas. We spent quite a bit of time looking for the disc, walking over a area way wider than where I thought it landed and kicking leaves in lines to see if it had gone under them. We never found it and got quite tired by the search, but we did find another one that was also a mid-range and in better shape. I finished from that spot.
On the next and final hole, first throw, Jamie lost his disc. We did the same search method, and this time we found it after maybe 10 minutes. It was partially buried among leaves, hard to see from an angle, ie not right over it.
With all of the walking around the course plus the searching, we were quite tired and sore afterwards, so we went back to camp, made lunch, and relaxed.
We packed up after we ate breakfast Sunday, got warm, and the sun came up enough to dry the dew off things. I got home before noon I believe, where I brought everything in, then took a much needed shower.
Overall, it was a good weekend, though it went quite fast and the cold was rough. I still feel worn and will hopefully sleep well tonight, which I should’ve started already.