Archive for Camping

Sam’s Visit and Mullica Hill Backpacking

Posted in Friends and Family, Good Times, Hiking and Camping, Vacations with tags , , on April 24, 2012 by Verge

Sam came into town to spend some time with friends for her birthday.

she brought us presents as well!

Monika got cat decals for the walls to go with the robots we already had.

I got a mixed sixer of all Ohio craft beers.  We enjoyed them throughout the week with each other.

To kick off the week of festivities, we decided to go on the backpacking trip through Wharton State Forrest I’ve been trying to make for a few years now.  It starts at Atsion Lake, and ends in Batsto.  After posting the excursion on Facebook, it was down to only four of us:  Monika, Sam, Jimmy and I.

After dropping the one car off at Batsto, paying our fees, and being firmly reminded several times there was no camp fires and no alcohol in the park, we headed to Atsion. We set off with nearly two liters of Maker's Mark and enough matches to burn down the whole forest!

This is a walking shot of the Mullica River. Now, it's used for kayaking and that's about it, but back in the day, if was a very important waterway for trade. It was used by many local mills and glass factories, and served to connect Atsion to Batsto.

Finding good walking sticks was a pretty high priority. The trail was blazed kind of poorly, and at one point we were lost for a few miles. Not too big of a deal, though. I had my phone and a decent GPS signal, so we found the site no problem.

The first leg to the campsite was 6 miles.  Once we got there, it was down to tent building and what not, so I don’t really have any pictures.  We were the only ones staying for the night, which is just the way I like it.  The site had a few  out houses, or privy pits, that were surprisingly clean, but none of us needed to use them anyway.  It also had well water, and I filled my base station with fresh drinking water for all of us for the night.

I had bought Sam a brand new backpack and sleeping bag for her birthday, so once all that stuff was set up, I worked on getting a tarp set up over our tents.  It had stalled raining until just after I was finished setting everything up.  And, thank god I did, and did well.

Oddly enough, even though there was not supposed to be any camp fires, next to the obviously well used central camp site fire pit was a stack of freshly chopped wood for us to burn.  It was definitely left for campers because there’s no way to get that wood back to the site, and there was literally no wood around the sites to break up or hatchet up.  It had all been used up over the years, so it must have been driven in.  As we sat by the fire, sipping whiskey, it began to rain.  We had our emergency ponchos, and we were able to hold out past midnight.

Overnight, the rain and wind picked up considerably, and ended up raining out Jimmy’s tent, he had it a little rough.  Ours faired better.  It was fine, didn’t leak, and we all made it through the night unfazed.  Next morning we had some breakfast over a small fire.  it had dried up fairly well, so our packs were’t too weighed down with water.  We set off pretty early for Batsto Village.

another 6 miles, some with Sam in bare feet, wading across a shallow Mullica river when we discovered the bridge washed out.

It was a great success.  The easy, flat-ground hiking was evened out with the difficult night.  It was well worth the 3 dollars a piece it costs us.

The rest of the week, Sam bounced around to see friends and her family. One night, we got custom mustaches at Jack's Twin Bar.

it was dark, and late, and I didn't stay for very long because I had to work in the morning, but I'm told they had a great time.

It was the last chance to see Sam before she went home to Ohio, so there were a ton friends that Monika and I hadn't seen in a while.

The day before Easter Sunday, we had a huge breakfast outside on my patio in the sunshine. It was a beautiful day. In fact, so beautiful that Sam couldn't get herself on the road, and she stayed another night.

Always good times...


New Year’s Road Trip, Part 1: Letchworth State Park

Posted in Good Times, Vacations with tags , , on January 7, 2011 by Verge

we headed off to upstate NY for a weekend of craziness

we rented a cabin in the woods. I wonder how many times they had to scrub blood off the floors before the cabin warranted this sign?

but, actually, the cabin was awesome. three rooms, electricity, fridge, stove...but no running water.


this is about how far we had to walk to the bathrooms, which where also surprisingly nice...and warm.

this is the real reason we came. This is the Grand Canyon of the East.

I know that there is another one somewhere in PA, but maybe next time we'll go there

this Grand Canyon was pretty damn good for us this trip. It was cold, but we layered up pretty well.

we hiked from lower all the way to upper falls, about a 3 mile round trip.

Kreg and Monika decided to cross a frozen stream while Kat and I decided to worry.

underneath the bridge, the tarp has sprung a leak

This is a track of the entire day.  It includes the car ride out of the park from our campground, to the left towards the falls, the entire hike, and our trip back to the cabin.

we tracked down some wood behind the cabin and started a campfire, pretty much a must while camping, no matter how cold.

we were the only ones in the campground with a fire, even though lots of people were out drinking on their porches, so we kind of became the center of attention.

so, of course, we built the largest fire we could for the hell of it.

After we burned all the wood, we went inside and played some dominoes.  and drank…a lot.  We were in bed early for the drive to Ohio for New Years Eve the next night.  Monika paid the price dearly.



As always, the full set of pix from this leg of our road trip can be found right here!

Two Fires and a Matinee (Weekend Review # 2)

Posted in Good Times with tags , , , on May 12, 2010 by Verge

There were a lot of circumstances that prevented the backpacking trip I had planned this weekend.  We were supposed to be partying Friday night, then waking up early Saturday and driving to Atsion.  Four to six of us were then going to take a five mile hike with all of our camping gear on our backs to the Mullica River campground.

It is a vehicle inaccessible site and so once we were in, we were in for good.  The plan was to set up our tents, gather firewood, make lunch and dinner, and generally enjoy the outdoors.  This campground has no water, toilets, of other luxuries at all.  We were all looking forward to roughing  it for a month and a half.

Then, as we made some preparations  on Thursday night for the exciting weekend ahead, Kreg got a horrible call.  His shop was on fire and those were about the only details he got.  He rushed off with Kat to Hainseport to see what the hell was going on.  It wasn’t good.

I didn’t see them again for the rest of the night, but several calls from them confirmed the worst.  It was indeed his shop that burned.  It was no small fire.  All his work inside was destroyed.  His tools were about the only thing that made it out still usable, and only after several days of cleaning.

At noon on Friday, as I enjoyed a beer at a local bar, I got the news from Kreg that he was bailing.  I should have expected that he would.  I would have in his shoes.  He had way too much to take care of at that point.  I was just hoping he was going to blow off things for a day or two and let things settle.  Within and hour or so, I decided to call off the trip.  It was probably smart that I did.

That afternoon I got to plant my garden and all my annuals.  Pictures to follow soon.  I originally was planning on feverishly planting so that I could pack our backpacks and head out in the morning.  Due to our postponed camping trip, I was able to take my time, and Monika and I had a leisurely afternoon instead of a hectic one.  Later, we had a small camp fire at our house, and then another one over some drinks at Rob’s.

The weather was supposed to be windy and rainy.  We had originally decided that we were going to go for it anyway and hike through the rain and have a hell of an adventure on Saturday.  Well, in the end, it never rained.  But, there was a hell of a windstorm that not only would have scared the hell out of us had we slept in our meager tents surrounded by trees that night, but also spread a forest fire through the Pines.

Instead of gathering firewood Saturday afternoon, Monika, Schmoo and I went to Philly to see Julia Nunes, who I was originally pissed I was going to miss due to the camping trip.  It was a 4 pm show at North Star Bar in Fairmount because it was all ages and only ten bucks.  We got there in time for the opening act, a guy from Philly name Lucas Carpenter, who you can also check out here (all the loops were made on the spot, not pre-programmed).

I was glad we made it for him because I thoroughly enjoyed his show and got to meet him after his set.  We also got to meet Julia afterward along with the other 60 or so teenagers that were at the show.  We picked up a few of her CDs…

Monika, Julia and Maya on a Saturday afternoon.

and got some photos, too.  It was a great afternoon in the city and at least softened the blow of missing our hiking trip considerably.

Later that night we hung out with Marla and Rob and Kreg and Kat over a campfire and some cigars.  At least we got outside for another night and had some more outdoor time.  The next morning, neither me nor Monika had to work, which was why we were originally going camping in the first place.  But, even though we didn’t have to work formally, I had tons of stuff to do around the house and yard.

I worked in my garden, did laundry and dishes and the normal boring crap. But, I did finally finish and mount the huge wooden gear above my garage.  And, after discovering some directions online, I made some of my own recycled bottle tiki torches.  The details of how to make these is in a coming blog post.

I had a great weekend after all, but at the expense of my best friend’s shop and a potential epic weekend that could have been.  Hopefully both will be resurrected in the future, better than the original, and everything will work out in the end.

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