Haw Creek Campout
October 25, 2008
Work finally slowed down enough that I got an entire weekend off. Recalling how much we enjoyed camping last fall, I threw together a plan for us to drive up to Haw Creek Falls campground Saturday morning as soon as Grant finished his last soccer game of the season. Stacey has always liked the notion of having a dog that could accompany us on outdoor activities like hiking, camping or canoeing, so I wasn't surprised when she wanted to bring Emmy along.
We stopped at the pet store on the way out of town to buy a harness to keep Emmy from moving around too much in the vehicle. She whined and panted a lot for the first 45 minutes, but then settled down and behaved perfectly the rest of the drive. At some point we unhooked the harness from the seat belt and never reattached it.
It was a beautiful fall day with clear blue skies and mild temperatures. We were able to get a good campsite. After unloading the Tahoe we all walked over to the falls, which only had a little bit of water running over. We returned to camp and made quick work of setting up the tent and getting the bedding spread out.
Grant gathered black walnuts from the forest floor, put them on a boulder, and smashed them with a hammer. He and Cliff found a tooth fungus growing on a fallen beech tree behind camp, and ran back to excitedly tell me I had to come see it. While there I noticed quite a few strawberry bush fruits about waist high in the understory.
We got back in the vehicle and drove the 25 miles to Sam's Throne for a hike. Ever since Cliff and I first visited 5 years ago, I'd wanted to bring Stacey back to see how great the scenery is along the ridge opposite the throne.
We parked at a pulloff a bit south of the main camping area, and took a faint unofficial trail downhill to join the bluffline. We followed the trail along the edge of bluffs in a southwesterly direction. Emmy wasn't trained and constantly pulled against her leash. We soon came to a spectacular area of weathered sandstone directly opposite Sam's Throne. Stacey wouldn't let the boys get anywhere near the edge of the cliff, so we didn't stay there very long and I didn't get a chance to take any pictures. We continued to follow the trail which circled around to the northeast to another overlook area with a fantastic view of Big Creek valley. I got out the camera and started taking pictures. Stacey couldn't relax with the boys being close to a drop off, so they soon started hiking back. It didn't seem like I stayed there very long by myself before I started worrying that Stacey and the boys might get off on the wrong trail (there were many unofficial trails along the ridge) and walk toward the camping area instead of where we were parked. I hurriedly packed up the camera and walked at a fast pace to try and catch up with them but they had just covered the half mile to the Tahoe when I caught up. Now that I think about it, I bet Emmy kept them going pretty fast!
We didn't get back to camp until sundown. The boys got a fire going and we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. We boiled water on our Coleman stove and made hot chocolate.
It was nice having Emmy along. We fastened her harness to a long cable secured to the leg of the picnic table, so she was able to walk all around camp. The only problem was occasionally she would get the cable wrapped around a chair or the lantern pole. The temperature dropped quite a bit and she curled up into a ball on the ground but wasn't shivering. When we went to bed, Stacey called Emmy over and she crawled down into the bottom of the sleeping bag and hardly moved.
As usual, Cliff got up before first light and lit the lantern and got the fire going. He woke me when he had problems with the stove... there was a gas leak causing flames to shoot out the side. I couldn't get it fixed so we had to build a fire in the campsite's upright grill to cook breakfast. It was tough keeping a supply of sticks to fuel the fire, and our frying pan and kettle got coated with sticky black soot.
It was another beautiful sunny fall day, but the temperature rose swiftly and we were almost too warm by the time we had camp tore down and everything packed for the drive home.