My Part-Timer lives in the Lubbock area, and she has visited this park on more than one occasion. As I mentioned in my previous post, she neglected to mention she had never camped in the remote site she had reserved for this trip. While this was a little surprising, and added to some of my uncertainty, it is totally typical for this child.
No real surprise at all.
We pulled into the park, realized the ranger station was closed, then made our way around to the parking area we would use as our staging area. We were headed to the North Prong Primitive Camping Area. My little girl had managed to pack two packs with gear. One for each of us. We spent a short amount of time transferring some of my gear into one of the packs. You know, important things like:
- Something to sleep in.
- Sleeping bag.
- Dental hygiene supplies.
- Contact supplies.
- Additional food items.
We then proceeded to layer on clothing, coats included. We helped one another get our packs on and adjusted. There was a lot of laughing and giggling during this process. They were heavy. A minimum of 50 lbs. each. Plus, we had an additional back-pack and the dog. Steadying ourselves, we started out. It was starting to get dark, but we were blessed with a bright moon to light our path.
It took all of five minutes and we were starting to sweat. We realized our mistake in putting our coats on, but time was of the essence. We pushed on. The trail was solid. Only a few obstacles here and there, but we were hiking up into the park. Not sure of the elevation difference, just know there was enough of one to make it a work out. At one point, we were struggling with the additional back-pack we were passing back-and-forth between us. I stopped and we let the straps out. I then had her assist me with placing it on my back, over my pack. This made things a little easier for a while, until both my arms started falling asleep. I was inadvertently cutting off my circulation. When I couldn't take anymore, we stopped to remove the pack. I also took this opportunity to remove all my equipment so I could get my coat off. After strapping my coat onto my pack, I had to load it all back on my back. Then make adjustments to my gear so I could get a snug fit.
I cannot convey the importance of a pack that fits you properly!
My Part-timer's pack fit her perfectly. I was using a pack belonging to a young man she works with. The fit was close, but no cigar. I had it tightened as much as possible, but it was still slightly big. This allows the pack to pull back. Which makes gravity - not your friend! After our short stop, we started back on the trail. Only to realize we were closer to our turn off than we had thought.
Had I known, I would have suffered with the discomfort and kept going.
Hindsight is 20/20.
We made the turn to the campsite, only to see lights ahead at the campsite.
Someone else was up there.
This prompted a stop and a lot of discussion. We wanted to be alone. My Part-Timer was under the impression this was a single campsite. In her mind, someone had taken our spot. This did not make her happy. On top of the frustration of a bad week, I was trying to talk her down off the ledge so to speak. While we were having our conversation, the campers up ahead had caught the dog's eyes facing them in the dark. Only thing, they had no idea it was a dog. The next thing we noticed, two flashlights coming down the trail toward us. While we were uncertain of our plans, this left us to make a decision.
Proceed and confront these Yay-Whos?
Turn and leave?
We decided to proceed and confront. Once we made it up to the camping area, we realized we were facing two guys. A little unsettling for us. The two guys, relieved when they saw the dog. Apparently they thought they were being visited by a coyote. I will give the dog credit. She is more than a little goofy when she visits my home, but in this environment, she became extra protective and was letting loose with a low growl.
Certainly enough to be intimidating.
Our conversation was awkward at best. We mentioned our reservation for the sight. They mentioned their reservation for the site. They did point out that while it was crowded, there was plenty of room for everyone, and tried to be welcoming. Somehow, the conversation included mentioning of a campfire? We were then informed that campfires were not permitted at primitive sites in the park.
A fact my Part-timer was not aware of.
We knew we wanted a campfire. We knew we did not want to camp at a primitive location with two strange men.
Change of plans.
We decided to turn back and hike back to the car. Drive to another location. Another location my girl had camped at previously. Then we would hash out all the details at the ranger station in the morning.
Did I mention it was dark?
Back down we went. Back down with loaded packs. Back down in the dark.
We were pooped.
We loaded all our gear back in the car. Jumped in and drove around to the South Prong Tent Camping area. A location my little one had always camped at before, but had skipped this go round because it was usually crowded. Well, guess what? Not a lot of people out camping in the cold! Can you imagine that? We drove around the area to find two other groups of campers. Then, we located a secluded spot and decided to claim it as our own.
Having been on the road a couple of hours, hiking a couple of miles with gear, a bathroom pit-stop was needed. We drove back around to the restroom. We were relieved to find the facilities clean, and we took care of our business. Walking back to the car, we made another encounter. A ranger had noticed our car and decided to investigate. Once he said hello, my Part-Timer launched into action.
"Do you work here?"
He had no idea what hit him. She ran through the details of our adventure and expressed her discontent with finding campers in a site she thought would be our's alone. He explained there were actually three campsites to reserve in that location. No, we weren't allowed to have a campfire up there. Then, a little confused about the details she had relayed, told us we wouldn't want to make that hike in the dark. He was shocked to find we already had. When I say shocked, I mean a little impressed. During the conversation, he was also a little impressed to find she had regularly frequented the park alone. Once we had all the facts, we explained we were pitching camp at another location and we would be in the ranger station the following morning to make the necessary changes. He agreed, and we parted ways.
With that done, we drove back around to our new home. Her job - set up the tent. My job - unload the car and get a campfire going. As exhausted as we were, these tasks were accomplished quickly and without incident. The only thing left to do...
- Cook dinner.
- Make hot tea.
- Laugh at our trip so far.
- Crash out.
That last task...a little harder than it should have been. I can not tell you the last time I slept in a tent on the ground. Seriously. I have thought long and hard about it. It has been so long ago, I can't put a date on it.
Just drawing a blank.
I got nothing.