Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Spirit of Adventure

Again this weekend we decided to pack up and head out. This time there were three of us, as my sister, Jeffery... Er... I mean Olivia, decided to go as well.

So we looked at the map of the National Forest, and found a couple of "official" campgrounds. We visited one called Turnipseed Camp. This campground was really nice, but there were a number of other people there and we were aiming for more of a wilderness camp. So we aimed for another camp called Tree Farm, which was also on the map.

    When we got there, we were looking to the left of the road, but we only found a small track which went off to a dead end. So we sorta wandered around until we found, on the north side of the road near the entrance, a large open field. There was no sign, but we figured it had to be the campground.
We pulled the Jeeps (we brought the red one with us too) around to the back of the field between some trees. The field is arranged in a circle around a large clump of trees. Dad set to gathering some wood, and Olivia and I started setting up the tent. We brought some wood with us, but not enough to burn all night and the next morning. Our tent is a large Ozark Trail 8 person tent. (The one I previously referred to as a tent-mansion)  While I don't believe you could put 8 people in there, it is pretty big. It does take up a fair bit of space in the Jeep, but would sleep a fairly large group of people comfortably. It'd probably fit without issue on a cargo rack of some sort.

 After that, we started a fire between two large halves of a stump that someone had put there in the past. The pile of sticks we acquired made for a large, hot fire. After building up the fire, we started to cook a few things. We had burgers and salmon.

The burgers were great, and the salmon was pretty good too.
The place where we camped was toward the middle of the National Forest, with many miles of wilderness on all sides of it. We heard almost no manmade sounds the whole time we were there. At most, we heard three airplanes all night. We saw lights of one car, in the distance. So we were very much in the middle of nowhere. It was almost unsettling, the lack of noise in the night. There weren't really any crickets or birds either, which I think is due to the cold and isolation.
The field was nice, but there were low clouds and strong wind, which caused the temperature to drop quickly. It didn't get too unpleasant near the fire though. Inside the tent it never got cold, at least not to me. My Coleman sleeping bag kept me very warm throughout the night as well. I think all three of us had the same type of sleeping bag. Olivia also brought some blankets from home... and then disappeared under them. Dad's sleeping bag is the blue one.
I slept fairly well, the only problem caused by the things on my mind. I think that is one of the best things about camping, being able to think. It clears your mind, to get out of cell service, break your routine, and breath some clean (if a bit smokey ) mountain air. To not be able to do things you are told you have to do, and only focus on what you need to survive. It is the spirit of adventure, ultimately, to reboot yourself. To do something you wouldn't normally do and clear your mind while leaving normalcy in the dust and live on the edge, if only just for a little while. It sets things back to balance. This helps you to feel better, to be more efficient when you do return to civilization. Balance, I think, is the key to life. You have to find balance in all things to be successful, I believe.

The next morning, I woke up first and started rebuilding the fire. Father woke a few minutes later, and started making coffee. I made grits again, and Olivia made a pig in a blanket meal, and dad ate cheese and bread.

 It was still pretty dark when I got up around six o'clock. The clouds were rather thick.
I took a panorama shot of the whole campsite:

Some time after breakfast, we packed up the tent and other gear:

We had my Jeep loaded, but it all actually fit in there pretty well.

Then we headed off into the forest. There is a large paved highway in the middle of the forest, highway 281, which the campsite's road exits onto. It seems sorta random, when you drive on many miles on dirt roads and then, suddenly, there is this nice, paved, highway. It goes from Cheaha to Adam's Gap, but neither of those roads are close to the quality of 281. So it seems very random.  

A short distance down this road, we went back onto the Duck Nest Motorway, a two track dirt road that leads back to Oxford.

 This road has a stretch which has very steep drop offs next to the road.

Before long, we arrived home. It was a great campout. The location was good, if a bit difficult to find. The two Jeeps had plenty of space. Our equipment worked really well, and all packed well. The weather wasn't great, but it added to the experience. I think enjoying these events is more psychological than physical. If you try to enjoy it, you will.  

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