Monday, May 11, 2009

Family Fun: Zaleski State Forest Backpack Overnight

If you're going to kill your TV - you'd better find something else to do. So, in addition to the status updates, we'll try to include family fun stuff that filled those hours that we've previously spent slack-jawed and drooling in front of the idiot box.

This weekend Kate and I went for a walk in the woods in Zaleski State Forest. On Friday night, I packed up our two-man tent, two sleeping bags, the JetBoil, and some other bare essentials, and off we went for a overnight backpacking adventure.

We left the trail head bound for the campsite that was 4.8 miles away according to the trail map (6.0 miles according to my quadriceps-o-meter). There was a point in the trail that we could have chosen to go to a closer camp, but I convinced Kate that we should "Go big, or stay home!" She reminded me of this moment later when we were about 4 miles into the journey heading up a very steep grade. I was breathing a little too much like Darth Vader after Luke took his helmet off, and she was looking a little worried about the prospects of her college funding. In any event, we arrived at camp only a little worse for the wear.

We made some grade-A camp food (I cooked, she did dishes), an ill-fated attempt to get a campfire going (the recent rain had dampened the kindling), and some less than tasteful jokes about the need to possibly drink our own urine (which elicited simultaneous "EEeewww"s from us both).

The next morning the sun was up early, and we plodded back from whence we came confident in the knowledge that we had faced mother nature's ( late-spring, calm, clear, and dominated by high pressure) worst. On the way home, I introduced my daughter to a fine old backpacking tradition; "The Celebratory Milkshake".

The Good:
  • Zaleski is a great out-of-the-way park for overnight trips or longer day hikes.
  • No mosquitoes and only a handful of other winged insects at this time of the year.
  • JetBoil - if you backpack, get one; even if you already have a stove.
  • Zaleski's primitive campsites have trucked-in water available.

The Bad:
  • Some of the trails have standing water - waterproof over-the-ankle boots are required.
  • The campsite had more folks (10-20) in it than I would have liked. I think the word is getting around.

The Ugly:
  • After duly convincing my daughter that I might have a little "backwoods game", I plunged my left boot into about 18 inches of sucking mud/quick sand while attempting to cross the last creek on the way to the car. This elicited yet another set of simultaneous "EEEeeewwww"s.

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