I think I’ve finally hydrated after spending forty eight hours in the woods. My skin has been parched and I’m reminding myself to drink more water. We arrived home just as a storm rolled in and I love a summer storm. However, I was beyond grateful that we had packed up camp and were in the comfort of our warm, strong home. The rain and the wind were impressive! It was like a monsoon, dropping inches of rain in minutes. The skies were black, flashing with lightning and rumbling thunder. And I watched the beauty and power of it all from the comfort of my couch. It was the perfect ending to a perfect camping trip.
We set out camping on a Wednesday, which was perfect because there aren’t as many campers during the week. We also found a really secluded spot that was heavenly. I will not disclose the location here. This is more of a story, than a travel guide. I hope you enjoy reading about our adventures and that it inspires you to set out on your own.
The drive to this particular lake is less than an hour from our front door and the journey is always part of the fun. My husband and two sons drove in his truck and my daughter and I went together. My husband totally talked me into getting this Jeep Rubicon and I will love him forever for it. It is the most fun I’ve ever had off-roading and it came with an intense stereo system that my daughter and I love to blast driving everywhere. We stopped at a gas station to fuel up on gas and candy. Then we stopped at another gas station to get all the things I remembered I had forgotten: coffee filters and mayo. Then we wove our way through the mountain roads deep into the forest.
When we arrived we were ecstatic to find there were no other campers at the entire lake. There are only about 5-6 spots but we had the entire outdoors to ourselves. Well, us and the animals (more on that later). It was overcast and a little windy that first day, but warm. We set up camp, the kids went paddle boarding and the dogs ran around like wild animals. It was the best!! Our dog Chloe is nine and a little overweight. She does get sore after a lot of activity but, you will find out, that doesn’t stop her from keeping up with us. Jasmine, our new dog, is just over one and this was her first camping trip. As you can imagine, she was so excited to learn that she could run free in the wilderness and sniff whatever she wanted.
When we first arrived I spied two duck mamas with about seven ducklings each swimming to the other side of the lake. We did not see them again the entire time we were there but there were certain beaches with an abundance of goose poo. The ecosystem was noticeably thriving in this hidden gem of a camp spot. There were birds everywhere, nesting in the high rocky cliffs and I suspect that is why there were literally no mosquitoes to be found, another absolute God-send. Because nothing is more annoying than being covered in itchy bug bites or tasting and smelling like bug spray all the time. There were clearly a lot of fish in the lake because we could see the small ones everywhere. My husband caught a small Bass but we were never really out fishing at the optimal time. We are going to fish a lot more next time we go.
That afternoon while two of the kids were napping, three of us drove around to the other side and walked to the outlet side of the dam creating this gorgeous lake. It may have been because I watched Malificent just before camping but it reminded me of Aurora being Queen of the Moors and all the fairy creatures. Spring was in full effect in the forest and it felt like Mother Nature rolled out the green carpet just for us. The forest floor was lush and soft, there were colorful wildflowers everywhere and the constant music of birdsong filled the air, only drowned out by the mountain streams shouting the power of nature’s raging waters. I did thank God for nature’s beauty as I was immersed in it, once again.
Back at camp we cooked dinner on our little cookstove and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. It was a delicious feast of chorizo, potato salad and baked beans. I ate three smores as we told scary stories by the fire and sat in awe of the moonlight. I also did not know that it was a full, super moon that night. Never had I seen a lake lit up by moonlight quite so beautifully. I still can’t believe how gorgeous it all was.
Always the explorer, I wanted to see what we might see down in the water by the moonlight. I couldn’t see anything in the water but Chloe was off to the side looking deeply into the forest. I wondered what animals were watching us from behind the trees. We decided to turn in for the night and crawled into our tents. We left the door unzipped on our son’s tent, so the dogs could go in and out.
At some point, I was awakened by barking but it wasn’t my dogs. I could hear my dogs running around the camp squeaking. The barking was in the distance but there were no other campers here. Then the dogs were jumping up on the side of the truck trying to get in our tent.
“Ray!” I yelled and shoved my husband awake. “The dogs are jumping on the truck.” He was up immediately and they were squeaking at him to let them in our tent. The dogs in the distance continued to bark periodically and Ray zipped the dogs up in our son’s tent. Jasmine was shaking like a leaf and we figure they were wolves trying to lure them out into the woods. I think Chloe knew they were there earlier when we were down by the lake. I could hear two distinct barks in the distance. They carried on barking for about twenty more minutes before giving up.
One of my favorite things about camping is sleeping in until the sun warms the tent and birds wake you up. We made breakfast and had fun being grateful that our pups weren’t wolf snacks in the night. My husband and I went on a paddle board adventure, paddling across the reservoir to see the rock tower that houses hundreds of birds’ nests and the rock dam. Paddling was fun and I like to go fast streamlining through the water. Then my daughter came out on the paddleboard with me and we explored a spot where a stream fed into the lake. There were a hundred fallen trees in a log jam and the waterfalls over the trees ran into the lake at a perfect spot for ducks to come in and out. There was duck poo everywhere and thus the mud was like quicksand. My daughter got sucked in once and said, ”Nope.” I was on my own, but I enjoyed climbing over the log jam and balancing over the trees as I walked back and forth over the waterfalls.
We basked in the sun a little longer and had some lunch. Then it was time to pack up camp. We had one more adventure stop on the way home. When everything was packed and loaded we took off through the forest on backroads running along the river that feeds the reservoir. To my surprise, there were plenty of mud puddles and I made a game of seeing how high I could splash in the puddles. I was determined to get my new Jeep good and dirty. I love the big tires it has and I tried to spin out, throwing mud as far as I could.
We finally made it to the trailhead and parked to walk to the falls. Not far from the car, the trail made a serious downhill slope. We came to a flat spot on some rocks and then there was a gorge cut into the earth by the river. You could walk straight along the cliffside to the top of the falls or follow a path down, down into the gorge to the bottom of the falls. That was as far as my daughter was comfortable going and she stayed on the flat rocks. It was certainly a dangerous trail. A fall could mean death if you continued down the mountain. I was not about to climb all the way down into that gorge. I was content staying at the top but I really wanted to go underneath one of the falls. The trail was not very clean and I slipped on some loose gravel sliding a bit down the hill on my bum. It scared me but I made it. Apparently, my husband had to save the fat dog twice from rolling down the mountain and I couldn’t believe both dogs went to the bottom of the falls with the boys and climbed all the way back up that mountain. It’s no wonder the old dog, Chloe, couldn’t move for two days afterward.
The falls were amazing. Just the force of nature created by snow melt amazed me. The purest, coldest mountain water was beautiful. It was so refreshing to be out of cell service and not have the internet for two days. I hope next time it’s longer. For more photos and video of this trip, check out my Instagram page.
I encourage you to get outside and have an adventure. Appreciate all that nature has to offer. Here are some of the items we took camping in this post Summer Must-Haves from Amazon. Or if you’d like to read more travel posts click here for the TRAVEL CATEGORY.
Tell me about your favorite outdoor adventure!! Where was it?