Now that we've established I'm a weenie when it comes to worrying about bears... ;)
Back to the list of things to be sure of:
#2 of 2 – Know that your dogs are comfortable sleeping in your new tent.
Seems obvious, right? Right.
I thought I knew this. Or at least kind of sort of maybe. :P They loved the tent we’d used up in Canada and had seemed cool with this one when I tried the initial setup in the backyard. Apparently all of that goes out the window in a new location.
We reached Horton Springs Trailhead with plenty of time left to hike and set up camp. We hiked and then set up camp across the creek where there are two wooden “tepees” in a clearing and several fancy “couches” made from stones circling the fire ring. I'd missed seeing this on a group hike I'd done here a few weeks prior (even though we'd been on the lookout for it), so it seemed like the perfect spot to set up camp this time around.
While exploring the site I noticed banana peels left in the fire ring and a half eaten banana on one of the stone seats. Who leaves food sitting out in the woods?! Are you trying to draw in pesky wildlife?! (Just to be clear, I love seeing wildlife, but I don’t want it lured into camp.) I planned to burn it in the campfire later or move it outside the immediate campsite area. We continued exploring the area and eventually set up the tent along the edge of the clearing.
Returning to the fire ring later, I noticed the banana on the seat was gone. I’d made a point to keep the dogs away so they wouldn’t eat it, so what did eat it?! Eek! Ummmm….okay.... time for a distraction! More exploring and playing in the creek!
As the pups started to slow down I decided it was time to hang out in the tent a bit. <insert sound of everything coming to a screeching halt> The dogs weren’t having it. And not because they weren’t tired or ready to relax – they were definitely worn out. Herc was trying to push through the tent walls and Cool Whip was trying to pry open the doors that I couldn’t close fast enough – it was mayhem.
Options? Hope that if I try again later they won’t completely destroy the tent or pack up and head home for the night? I really wanted to spend the night and I really wanted to try again with the tent, but it was nearing dusk and the day had already been weird enough that I figured better safe than sorry (“sorry” being a second round of mayhem at bedtime, a torn tent, and hiking back in the dark).
I packed in a hustle and we set out for the car. Back home I decided to set up the tent in the backyard (in the dark :P) to see if the pups would do okay with it in a familiar setting. Cool Whip claimed the top, widest portion (of course, such a princess). Herc got the middle, half on the blanket and half on my sleeping pad (always the sneaky fella). And me? I curled up in a fetal position in the lower, skinnier half of the tent. Not ideal, but doable. ;)
I’ll try this another time or two to ensure they’re comfortable in here, but I’ll still keep an eye out for a proper 2-person (aka 1 human and 2 large dogs) backpacking tent just in case. Because all bets are off when Herc decides to stretch out and roll onto your head in the middle of the night…
Talking again about how life isn’t always 100% sunshine and rainbows.
Most of the time it is, but not always.
We tried to do an overnight backpacking adventure. It did not go as planned.
Two things to be sure of next time:
#1 – Know what bear scat looks like. Or that of any predatory animal in the area I suppose. Know what is out there that could kill or seriously harm you. Know how to identify if it is nearby.
I thought I knew this. Or at least kind of sort of maybe. Until we ran across scat on the trail that resembled what I thought bear scat looked like. Uuggghhh. It was dried though, so we kept hiking.
A few minutes later we came across a second pile. Then a third. This was starting to get out of hand.
Upon finding a fourth pile which was somewhat fresh – not steaming, but definitely from that morning – I decided to assess the situation. Was my fear of bears taking over or was this something I should actually consider?
Regardless, if the farther we went and the higher we climbed equaled increasingly fresh bear(?) scat, then it seemed like a good indication we should head the opposite direction.
Eventually we returned to the trailhead, explored a little more, then headed to a backup destination. Knowing what type of scat that was would have either solidified my decision to turn back or given me confidence to move forward. I felt like I'd let my fear win, but was happy that at least it wasn't an overwhelming win since we were going to fit in more explorations. With a second trail in the plans for the remainder of the day, we could still log about 10 miles of hiking. AND we're enjoying an excellent day outside, which is most important.
This area was quite amazing. Completely different from the eastern side of the Superstition Mountains that I usually see. So many trees and the stream was flowing much more than I expected!
This loading chute is at the trailhead, along with several pens to hold livestock and a house. Elsewhere in the area are other old remnants of people living out here such as building foundations and walls, and even an old bed spring out in the woods. Wild! ;)
I love the Superstition Wilderness for its history and its beauty!
#2 in the next post.