Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Camping - The WORST weekend of my life

It was a really rough weekend. I was determined to have fun. I am determined to laugh about it now that it is over.

Arriving at Ricketts Glen
So, Paul had to work a 6 hour shift on Saturday mandatory overtime. He got out early at the mercy of his supervisor and we hit the road around 3 pm. Arthur is in the back, we left Sebastian with my Mom in an air-conditioned house. (He didn't mind I'm sure. My Mom spoils him and feeds him ice-cream all weekend and they watch CSI.)

So approximately 45 minutes from the park my GPS takes the worlds biggest crap. We should have turned around and went home. Nope! I'm stubborn! I remember the way to get there anyway...No big deal!

Upon arrival, I tether Arthur to a tree and we set up the tent and unloaded all the stuff.

Arthur was snapping at some unidentified flying insect, I pointed this cute behavior to Paul and we had a chuckle.

We decide to take the beach trail down to the swimming area and check out the newest additions to the park, a new concession stand and restrooms. We poke around in the woods for awhile...
I loved the warmth of golden sunlight on this stump through the trees.

So my dog Arthur is a champion pooper. His bowl movements are like clockwork. It was nearly 8pm and he hadn't pooped yet. To inspire the dog to go...Paul took him on a brisk little jog up and down the shore while I was taking tons of pictures.

He approaches me while I was focusing in on a particularly gorgeous shot of some lily pads and says "Lex, your dogs butt looks funny and he won't poop."

I took a look after scoping the area to make sure nobody would see me checking out my dogs butt...and there was a welt on his...well...asshole. 1 inch swollen welt protruding from his anus. Apparently when he was being cute and snapping at the unidentified flying insect, it must have been because it stung/bit him there.

We should have left at that point.

I came prepared with a first aid kit. We gave him a histamine blocker and decided to wait 30 minutes and if the swelling didn't go down, we would stay. Otherwise we would leave and head for home.

Aforementioned lily pads

Sunset over the lake

Arthur and Paul - After the histamine blocker

Well, needless to say, the swelling went down by the time we came back to the campsite. We had a lovely dinner of grilled chicken, fresh spinach salad and croissants. Arthur had his traditional dog food but in a vintage Girl Scouts mess kit to keep the camping experience authentic.

By this time it is dark and we crawled into the tent. We lay down and discuss our plans for the next day.

Around 12 the noise around us started to die down, it didn't particularly bother us that everyone was so noisy, we were talking anyway.

12:30 neither of us can sleep. Apparently the campers in the site next to us had to finish a very intense discussion to finish regarding some 11 year old getting her nose pierced.

1:00 the entire campsite is quiet, even the nose-piercing discussion was over. The campers that were talking must have gone to bed, the evidence we have for this is the INSANELY LOUD SNORING.

1:30 dozing off to sleep when we hear...I swear to god...a bear. There is no way it could of been anything else. Arthur begins to growl all menacingly and all three of us are staring out the screen door of the tent into the penetrating darkness for about ten minutes until we decide that we are all stupid/crazy/insane and everything is fine.

1:50 something huge (probably a deer) crashes through the bushes 10 feet from our tent and scares the shit out of us again.

2:30 we recover and are discussing if we should just pack it all up and go home. We are pretty miserable, Arthur is sleeping between us and having a nightmare.
All of a sudden he yelps in his sleep and jumps up and starts licking his butt. I smell the inevitable "Fish in a copper pipe" smell that often accompanies the release of a dogs anal glands. Paul has never experienced this and freaked out. He started yelling "HE SHIT IN THE TENT!!!!!" "WHO SHITS IN A TENT!??!"

I was hysterically laughing as we evacuated the tent and removed all the bedding.

The only linens that weren't afflicted by the "Anal Gland Expression" was 1 light blanket, 1 sheet and 1 pillow.

Around 3:00 we finally slept in a mound like formation to conserve body-heat. It gets damn cold in the mountains at night.

Day 1
I woke up at 8 a.m. and poked/harassed/whined until Paul got up and made coffee. This is a ritual with us, very normal behavior. Arthur peed, refused his dog-food and waited patiently for us to get ready to go do fun camping stuff.

Traditionally we take the Falls trail - it is 7.6 miles long and includes scenic views of all the waterfalls that the park is famous for. Its a beautiful trail and in some sections very precarious. There are drop offs and switchbacks that I wasn't completely sure I wanted to take Arthur on.

So I mapped out a different route that neither of us had taken before. The plan was to take Cherry Run Trail to Mountain Springs Road and come back to the campground via Mountain Springs Trail and be back by suppertime. I brought provisions enough and 2 big bottles of water for the dog.
Arthur and Paul walking ahead of me on the trail. Some of the beautiful sights along the trail.

This looked like a hand in the ground with a really long pointer finger!

Lush foliage and shady green spots covered in moss and detritus.

We took our time and so we reached the end of Cherry Run Trail at around 3:00. It was a 4.6 mile trail but it was seriously rocky and rough on your ankles. Arthur was a trooper. Loving every minute of it. We ate our granola bars and kept him hydrated the whole hike. (He also ate a granola bar - he loves the peanut butter kind!). I obviously enjoy photographing fungus.
Fungi is so beautiful to me. I love the different varieties and colors.

Mountain Springs Road was long. It was really long. I'm not sure exactly how long but the dog and Paul were starting to get really tired. I honestly wasn't feeling it yet. We took breaks here and there. As I studied the trail map all the landmarks coincided with the terrain so I thought nothing of it.
Along Mountain Springs Road there are many scenic forests - very neat place to bring a camera if you don't get lost on the way back!
Tired dog and fiance.
By the time we reached what appeared to be the next trail, Paul was complaining a lot, the dog was tired and I was ready to go home. the sharp bend appeared to be the same one as on the map.

Unknown road we traveled for 2 hours. I thought it to be Mountain springs trail...nope.
People were passing us in 4x4 vehicals, Jeep wranglers and quads. Paul mentioned several times that we should ask these people if we were going the right way. I said "Why? I know where we are?" (famous last words). There were Orange trail markers and little tree medallions that said "PENNSYLVANIA STATE PARK BOUNDARY". We were right by a river the entire time, and if you look at the trail map (link below) there is ... a river.
Trail map

Around 5:30 we asked two 20-something guys on 4-wheelers where approximately we were. They said we were off the damn map. Apparently we had done something wrong...I'm still unsure what?!

Being that we were completely desperate, we asked for help. After being denied help from the two 20-something guys and a married couple - we started the long hike back the way we came.
I saw this little guy on our hike back. Honestly, he made the entire getting lost thing worth it. I didn't modify this photo, he is really neon orange!

45 minutes later the couple on a 4-wheeler came back and in three separate trips we were taken to the edge of the park. With Arthur on my lap and facing backwards he zipped us along a rocky road full of potholes. I clung to Arthur with all my might so he wouldn't jump off the back of the thing and prayed that he wouldn't overpower me. Every time we hit a pothole, 86 pounds of dog would bounce up and land back down on my knees that were hanging over a metal bar on the back of the quad. Excruciating pain to say the least.

There was a really awesome guy in a jeep who gave us a ride back to the campsite from where the quad left us off.

And he was awesome because he saved what little pride I had left...The jeep-guy admitted that he too, had gotten mislead by the trail map, but he did it in April and there was 6 inches of ice on the ground.

thanks to the married couple (mostly the woman, she talked her husband into helping us-he wasn't all about it) and the dude in a red jeep wrangler - both of which we are ETERNALLY GRATEFUL - we made it back to the campsite.

We made hotdogs the ghetto way

he was a bit cranky and threatened to stick the camera up my...well...you know...
This is a VERY tired dog

After a hot shower, some ghetto hot dogs, and a full nights rest we came home.