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Deer Camp, part 2
November 25-28, 2004

After Thanksgiving dinner Darrel, the boys and I headed back up to the deer woods. Cliff and Grant were going to spend two nights and Darrel and I five or six. Our old campsite near Fly Gap we’ve used all these years was already taken, and at the next campsite just down the road some guy has been illegally leaving his unoccupied camper for the duration of the hunting season for several years now. So we had to settle for what we call The Camp in the Pines a couple of miles away.
But my spirits were high as we started unpacking. I love the woods in late November, especially in the late afternoon when the air is still and quiet and the sun is already low and behind the trees. I said to myself “I’m home!” The sky was filled with soft pink clouds after the sun went down, and I grabbed the point-and-shoot from the truck and snapped the picture at th top of this page. A little while later the moon eerily appeared through the trees to the northeast. Back home we never see the moon low through the trees like that. As silly as this sounds, many times at camp through the years we've seen similar moonrises and for an instant not known what the heck it was!
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Similar to our first campout two weeks ago, the boys started eating as soon as they found the containers with the food. I didn’t pack any candy or cookies and the only snacks were marshmallows and potato chips, so the boys attacked the hot dogs and breakfast cereal. Also similar to last camp, I wound up driving Grant home. He was planning on sleeping in the tent with me, and we were in our sleepwear in the sleeping bag around 8 o’clock when he announced that he was going to throw up.  He never actually did, but he did a pretty convincing acting job. I quickly got dressed and grabbed him and his sleeping bag and off we went to take him home. This time around I returned to camp that night, with the good intention of going hunting that next morning. However when the alarm beeped the next morning I still had no desire to deer hunt, plus we’d had our first sub-freezing temperatures of the year that night, so I wussed-out and slept in til almost 10.
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The weather was cold and cloudy - pretty uninspiring actually - and I couldn’t talk Cliff into doing anything fun. Not 4-wheeler riding, shooting the bb gun, hunting, hiking. Nothing. He just wanted to stay inside Darrel’s camper, and actually had already started saying he wanted to go home. This surprised me because he has always loved camping up there.
So after a quick lunch I decided to go do a little exploring on my own. Our camp just happened to be right uphill from a place I was quite interested in - the very upper headwaters of Herrod’s Creek. A year ago at the end of our Thanksgiving campout I had hiked a mile-and-a-half down this drainage, while I had the sling on my left arm. I’d found some neat stuff on that trip, but didn’t have a camera. Since then I’ve wanted to come back and document that section of the stream.
Three hundred yards below camp the creek forms its first waterfall at a spot which seems impossibly close to the birth of the creek at a saddle uphill. (I’d found the waterfall ten years earlier while scouting for deer and it was the reason I returned last year.) GPS cooridinates (NAD 27) are N 35.77007 W 093.73396.
The creek runs steeply down the mountain on it’s southward journey to the Mulberry River. Below the big waterfall the stream tumbles over boulders as it hops from one small water hole to the next. There are countless small cascades and falls, quite rugged but beautiful. I’m a big sucker for these small water features and spent an hour taking pictures. Two hundred yards below the big waterfall I came to the next major water feature, where the water falls from a wide flat ledge. Coordinates for it are N 35.76850 W 093.73390. My last picture of the day was from below that waterfall, looking up. Just downstream was another waterfall of about the same size, but I only saw it from the side. I didn’t want to stick Darrel with watching Cliff for too long, so I started uphill thinking I would return the next day to resume the exploration.
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I was glad to see Tony’s tent when I arrived back at camp. He has been coming up to camp since I started hunting all those years ago. It started raining at 10: 30 than night, and there were frequent periods of thunder and lightning which kept waking me. At least the tarp over my tent kept everything dry. It was still raining when my alarm clock beeped at 4:30 Saturday morning, so I went back to sleep and didn’t get out of bed until 9. Cliff was still talking like he wanted to go home, so when Tony left around noon to go back home he took Cliff with him.
It was still cloudy so I got ready to hike back down to Herrod's Creek. Darrel asked me if I wanted to use the 4-wheeler so I jumped at the chance. My topo map showed a logging road going almost to the area of the creek I wanted to explore. To get to this road I took the 4-wheeler east from camp a little over a mile then turned right onto the forest service road that runs south between Herrod’s Creek and Indian Creek. About three-quarter’s of a mile down that road, on the right was the logging road I hoped would take me to Herrod’s Creek.
It’s a good thing I had my intended destination marked in my GPS receiver, because at some point the logging road took a left turn away from the course shown on the topo map. I was getting farther and farther away from
my goal, and just about the time I decided it was time to turn around, a near-disaster occured. To make a long story short, I had to bail off the 4-wheeler just before it flipped on a section of the road that was totally washed out (Word to the wise: Don’t try to ride past N 35.74405 W 093.73397). That scared me half to death so after making a full recovery of the 4-wheeler and my wits I turned around and headed back to camp.
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I made one stop on the way. The logging road crossed over a wonderful little stream cascading down the mountainside among a forest of Beech trees with their golden brown leaves.  GPS coordinates for this spot are N 35.75266 W 093.73196. The sun was out casting hard shadows on the scene, and I had to wait a long time for some fast-moving clouds to cover the sun and give me the necessary conditions for a photo.

That afternoon I called Stacey to check on the weather forecast and she had nothing but bad news: it was probably going to rain for the remainder of our trip. Darrel and I made the call to go home the next morning before the nasty weather moved in. We cooked steaks over the campfire then enjoyed a great dinner in the comfort of the camper.
Sunday morning we packed up and came home. The trip basically amounted to two days and three nights in the woods.
I wasn’t scheduled to go back to work until Thursday, and planned on driving back up to continue my exploration of Herrod’s Creek. But it rained Monday and Tuesday and then Wednesday it was too sunny to take pictures. So it remains on my list of future adventures.
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