I'd planned to camp out two nights and three days - more about how that turned out later - and do some hiking while we were there. The map below shows some details. We left the car at the red arrow and hiked along the trails (blue track) to set up at a great campsite (blue triangle) by Sand Lake #1. Later that day, we hiked (purple track) around Sand Lake #1 and visited Sand Lake #2, finding a great campsite in the pines for another time (yellow star). The next day, Friday September 1, we hiked along the orange track to Sand Lake #3 (red star).
The trail into the camping area, about a half mile or so, was a nice easy hike - perfect for a girl's first backpacking trip.
No one was camping in the area, so we had our pick of the six or so available sites, and we thought that this was the best one - in the trees above the lake. I set the tent up, and then the next order of business...
She loves to fish and quickly caught this little perch, which was returned unharmed to its watery home.
Shortly after that, Aja was exploring and found a superior campsite, so I took 30 minutes or so to relocate camp. It was in a grove of trees with fabulous views of the lake, and in a location to get morning sun and afternoon shade. It also had a log for a bench and a good fire pit. It shows that you need to explore a bit! I set up the tent again, and
we found a good spot to hang our food away from bears and raccoons.
Panoramic view by the lake....
Speaking of exploring, we decided to hike around the lake and the wetlands at the other side, and did just that. Here is a view of the lake from the south side. See the tiny white dot on the shoreline just to the right of center? That is my tent.
I mentioned the other great campsite, indicated by a yellow star on the map. Here it is, nestled between two lakes. Sand Lake #2 is in the background.
My granddaughter loves to climb trees. Here is one that she found along the way.
On a short trip like this, I will carry extra things like a pot to try to make more elaborate dinners. My attempt at mac and cheese with porcini mushrooms - pasta seen cooking here in the mushroom broth - failed when the intense heat of the stove scorched the milk. So we had noodles with cheese and mushrooms, which was good enough.
We also got a great campfire going and made some S'mores.
Soon enough, it was time for bed. It was a cool night but we had plenty of room in my new two person tent. Aja slept like a log, me less so. But it gave me a chance to listen to the most amazing barred owl calls I've ever heard. They called in all sorts of manners, one at a time, two at a time, back and forth, near and far. At dawn, a bit chilly, I got up, put on some tea water,
and admired the morning mist over the lake. Aja was enthralled with this when she got up.
We made pancakes - with butter and maple syrup - for breakfast.
I'd really hoped to hike more, but much of the day was gone and it was now about 3:00, so we decided to hike to Sand Lake #3, see what that was like, and let her fish there. Up to that point, the trip had been pretty perfect - amazing weather, plenty to keep a 10 year old occupied, great campsite, good campfire, decent food. She had not complained once, nor had I had any problems. But disaster was around the corner.
We hiked about a half mile to the lake, which was different from the one we camped on.
Aja very quickly caught a bluegill, which she wanted to keep, but I insisted she return it.
See her big smile? Well, that was about 10 minutes before she snagged her hook on something under the water and lost her only hook, bobber, and sinker! She was very upset, and announced that she wanted to leave! I tried to convince her that we could still camp out and have fun, that we could hike to the car in 30 minutes and drive to a store and get a hook, but her mind was made up. I didn't feel right making a 10 year old away from her mom and on her first real camping trip stay against her will, so we returned to the campsite and packed up and headed out - although she did want to eat our backpacking meals before we left, which we did.
I was disappointed not to have a second night camping out, but it was still a great trip, and great memories for me. Hopefully, they will be for my granddaughter as well.