Saturday, July 12, 2014

East Fork Report

East Fork Lake

Dear George,
Duffy and I are just back from a three-day camping trip to East Fork State Park in nearby Clermont County.  East Fork is one of Ohio’s largest state parks – nearly 5,000 acres of land and 2,600 acres of water.  It’s known for good fishing, has 85 miles of trails including some designated solely for horseback riders, and nearly 400 campsites.  Here are a few photos from our outing.  

There aren’t that many people camping on weekdays, and I got my first choice of sites.  In my opinion, East Fork has the best campsites in the region – many of them set well back from the road and surrounded by groves of maples, oaks, beeches, and hickory.  Our spot had two tables and two fireplaces.  That’s my Gander Mountain 10 x 12’ dome tent in the photo above.  It’s designed to sleep six and was more than enough room for Duffy and myself.  I bought it for $2.50 at the St. Vincent de Paul some years ago, part of a collection of 6 or 7 tents that I accumulated at the time.  Now I’m down to three, and this one is my current favorite.  

Here’s all my camping gear, packed in the rear of our SUV.  As I Boy Scout I learned to be extremely parsimonious in packing gear – bringing only enough to fit in a boy-sized knapsack.  Now my standards have flip-flopped, i.e., I only bring enough to fit in a single SUV.   

Duffy came with me while Mike stayed at home with Katja.  Duffy is a perfect companion – loyal and true, eager to do whatever his master decides, ever patient, never quarrelsome, and able to fall asleep in a matter of seconds during down time.  Duffy isn’t as fond of camping as I am though.  I know this because, whenever we walk past the SUV, he heads straight for its door in order to go home.  I think it’s because the forest is unfamiliar and uncertain.  One place Duffy likes a lot is his enclosed playpen.  His favorite is the tent which must seem much like a cave.   

I cooked a lot of delicious meals on this outing.  This one’s called “Cheeseburger Breakfast.”  You fry a couple of ground chuck patties and cut them up in bite-size pieces.  Then you scramble three eggs, mix in the burger bites, and cover with grated cheese.  As good as Bob Evans.  

One afternoon we set off for a hike on the Fernhill Trail.  The trail is supposed to be a loop, but I got lost, and it soon became unclear where we were going.  At one point the path descended down into a ravine.  There was a bridge of sorts, consisting of an 8-inch wide plank, which crossed over a creek about four feet below.  I worried about whether Duffy could walk across the plank without falling off, but he solved the problem by simply going down and through the creek.  On the other side the hill was extremely steep, almost perpendicular.  I made my way up by using tree roots as footholds, but I didn’t know if Duffy could make it.  However, he clawed and scrambled, and we eventually got to the top.  I followed the trail at hand, and we came out about a half mile away from where we should have been.  As we walked back along the road, a man came out of the forest and asked me which way to the campgrounds.  He said he’d gotten lost on the trail and didn’t know where he was.  I nodded knowingly.  

Night-time was the most relaxing time.  It’s against the rules, but I gather firewood from fallen tree branches on the forest floor.  Sitting and watching the fire burn makes for lots of nostalgia.  I thought about all the campfires I’d experienced over the years – camping out as a kid at Mason Park or Pig Island, fires on the Green Bay shore at friends’ houses, ghost stories and singing “Comin’ Round the Mountain” at YMCA and Boy Scout camps, tenting with Katja on our trip west as young marrieds. 

Duffy and Mike always seem to want to get on my air mattress in the tent, so this time I brought Duffy his own air mattress.  He wasn’t very interested though, and sprawled out on the tent floor most of the time.  I didn’t sleep well and had lots of dreams.  Years ago I would get nervous when I was alone in the woods at night -- thinking of bears or rabid raccoons or robbers or murderers.  Now I don’t seem to be nervous any more.  Possibly I’ve reached an age where being eaten by a bear isn’t that big a deal.  In any case, I was surprised when I got home to read in the paper that the State Police had just captured a wanted murderer who was hiding out in a tent in the woods at East Fork State Park.  Maybe I ought to be more nervous.

G-mail Comments
-Gayle C-L (7-14): David
Love the story and what an adventure !!!!.. You're certainly brave aren't you.
Especially since you finally faced you fears regarding murderers and bears and wolves etc eating you up and beating you up in the woods..  Than go home and come to find, the police found a murderer in the exact woods where you had just spent 3 fun filled relaxing, lets not forget Fearless days.. Ok..  I suppose somebody was on your side..  You got to have your fun and get home safe and sound.. :) ….  Give my love to all.... G  :)
-Jennifer M (7-13):  Hi Dave,  I read your blog about going camping. I'm glad you got out again and were able to bring Duffy. I laughed at your joke about how many things you bring, including in a mattress for an ungrateful Duffy. :-)
-Donna D (7-13): this is great!  two questions:  really, a murderer????    and, is that your underwear in the picture of Duffy in the tent?  

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