Hi Everyone! FINALLY, I'm posting something! I have really been trying to get to this blog post since Sunday, but one thing after another has arisen at home base. I spent 4 hours on hold on Monday between medical insurance, Social Security and that insane municipality tax issue, with a lot of the follow up happening on Tuesday and Wednesday, then today, I find out that at least two of the entities have errors at their end which will now start most of the processes over again. I'm lucky to still have some hair left! So, see......the "living the dream" lifestyle can be plagued with frustration! So far, this week has been a nightmare! LOL!
Anyway, let's get down to filling everyone in on the 13 great days Bo and spent at German Ridge in the Hoosier National Forest!
This was a super campground, in our opinion. It is really a "horse camp", but never really felt like a horse camp except most every site had a hitching post. We had the entire campground to ourselves the entire 13 days! Right there makes it near perfect! Most all of the sites were an 8 or higher. The only downfall on some was the slight parking incline or decline. Of course, that's not a problem if you are tent camping because the pads were completely level -- only a problem if you are sleeping in your vehicle. For the most part, the sites were well spaced with trees/woods in between. We had our choice of all the sites and settled on a "double" site -- #17.
Most of the center was quite wide, totally wooded and a bit rolly so you couldn't see any sites or movement across the center. The prime horse sites were on the opposite side from us. Not that it mattered, since no one showed up! The bathrooms were new last year and there are many spigots with potable water. Everything says it's NON-potable, but I found out from a very reliable source that it is actually city water which is trucked in. Personally, I always drink bottled water, but good to know, just in case. We had a spigot right across from our site. And, speaking of spigots, Bo quickly learned a new word this trip. "DRINK". A lot of the time on our walks he was off leash since no one was there. He could be way behind me and all I had to do was say "DRINK" and he would race to the closest spigot and wait for me, even if it was a bit in the distance. See him on the right of the path just past the sunny spot?
I've gotten off the topic of German Ridge! This area was settled in the 1820's by English, Irish and Scotch immigrants, but by the 1840's was comprised primarily of Germans. They built their homes and other buildings on the the edge of ridges to save the ridge tops for a large variety of crops and livestock. They carved their farms out of the forests. On many trail walks, we found ourselves descending the ridges of stone. Not quite as dramatic as Hemlock Cliffs (Aug 24th post), but very scenic in itself.
Most of our daily walks were on a very wide, canopied path beyond a very deep, thick wooded area almost right behind our site. Bo had so much fun running like the wind up and down this path and into the woods!
The grass/ground cover hadn't been mowed in some time, as acknowledged by Fred, the maintenance guy....but, eventho' we were the only ones there, about half way through our stay, he brought over the big mower and trimmed it all up for us!
I was glad, tho', that we had time to use the path when the grass was high, because it harbored wildflowers. Once mowed, many were no more.
Oh - before I keep posting nature photos, I received my "new" old Panasonic LUMIX camera from an Ebay seller. It is just like new! Really looks and operates like it just came out of the box eventho it has to be at least 8 yrs old...probably older. THRILLED! I love that camera! So...moving on...
There were some points of interest within the general German Ridge area. We drove up to the fork where you can either go to the "beach" as they call it, or down to the campground. I wasn't sure how far the "beach" was, so we planned to drive down there. Well, that didn't work!
I called the Ranger's office and asked if they were going to open the gate. No.....it closes after the Labor Day weekend. OK. So, we parked at the entrance in a little spot off to the side and started walking. Luckily it wasn't that far. Upon getting near the lake, we came across these unique, old buildings. These were part of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). This effort evolved during The Great Depression of the 1930's to stimulate the economy when so many were out of work. The program recruited young men 18-25 years old to work in the forests and parks. The men were required to send $25 of their monthly $30 wages home to their families to keep them off of the relief rolls. There were several camps in southern Indiana, five of which in the Hoosier National Forest.
Just down the hill from these buildings is a pretty little lake. Prior to Labor Day swimming is allowed in this lake. But there wasn't what I would call a "beach" exactly.
For some reason we never did get around to walking the trail that went around the lake, but we did walk a little way around...
Not wanting to get bored, we did have another one of our infamous "adventure hikes"! Which, by now you know means a "where the heck are we?" hike! We thought we were going to take the familiar wide trail I showed you above right to the lake. That's what Fred told us, anyway. Well, we must have not taken the correct fork or something. As with the other hikes that threw us into the "we've gone too far to turn back now" scenario. It was a beautiful trail, tho'! The wide grassy trail eventually ended and it became just a foot path trail, albeit easy to follow, but an up and down, rocky terrain.
We crossed over a couple of little creeks that cooled Bo off a little. But, the situation was we had no idea where we actually were and how far we were from "somewhere".
Sure, they put up these posts and put the little blue diamonds along on trees here and there, but that really tells you nothing except you are aware enough (or smart enough!) to still be on the obvious trail. Not really that helpful in the bigger picture. WHERE ARE WE?? That's all we wanted to know!
So, by now, we've easily walked at least two miles. Doesn't sound like a lot, but we're not walking on a sidewalk. It's uneven and rocky....you have to watch just about every step...and it was hot. Of course, it was a piece of cake for Bo. He was running up and down the trail, into the woods...all over the place. He has become quite the trailblazer! At one point, I had to find a place to sit down, have a little water and a snack bar. He waited for me, impatiently! Then we moved on. After quite a long way on the rough terrain path, the trail became mown grass....a clue! In order to get a big mower back here, there has to be a road where a truck and trailer can deposit a guy and the mower. Right?? There's hope! LOL! Well, ultimately, it wasn't that nearby. We came upon a placard...surely that must be a "You Are Here" sign.
Nope! No luck! It was a story about finding the remnants of an old farm and some old artifacts. Interesting, but it wasn't telling us anything we really needed to know. It would have been a lot more interesting if the circumstances were different! Onward we went. We finally came upon a little pond. At this point, I was not thinking it had any significance to being near the end of the trail and ending up "somewhere". I was correct.
Bo played around the edge for a minute and cooled off while I rested [again]. It was about 87* and, like all of our other unplanned long hikes, I had only one bottle of water with me which was just about empty by now. I'm apparently not a fast learner! I must like making the same mistakes over and over! LOL!
Silly me, tho', I keep trying to find things to photograph during all of this!
Walking, walking, walking......then, FINALLY we see a gravel road up ahead. I grabbed my cell phone, which really hadn't had much of a signal since we started this trek and VOILA! I pulled up a map and could see the County Road we were approaching. I never erased the GPS coordinates that originally got us to the campground, so I scrolled down and asked for directions...and the time frame for walking vs. driving.
EGADS! TWO MORE MILES... ABOUT ANOTHER HOUR OF WALKING. (We've probably walked about 4 miles already by now!) This gravel road was going to take us to the main, paved road which goes directly to the campground. Well, at least we finally knew where we were! We rested again before trudging up a hill to walk the 1/3 mile to German Ridge Road. I knew there wasn't going to be much activity , if any, on the paved road from driving on it when we first were going to the campground. In a few minutes we reached German Ridge Road. It wasn't flat! Very hilly, but we had no choice but to turn right and get going.
Well, in about 1 minute, here comes a little forest utility cart. I flagged down the worker and ask him to verify if it was, in fact, 2 miles to the campground. Yep! Then he said, "Do you want a ride?" Best thing I'd ever heard! LOL! Bo was a problem, tho. He wasn't going to have anything to do with this stranger, let alone sit on the front seat with him! The cart was something like this...no larger. But, there was a big tank of disinfectant on the back that, really, took up the entire space, as you can imagine. A bottle of water would just about have taken up any remaining available space! The guy, Phil, suggested putting down the tail gate (a whopping 8" wide) and see if we could somehow fit ourselves back there.
Bo was super skiddish, understandably! We squished ourselves onto the tailgate and Phil started to go forward. Bo was ready to fall off or jump off, but he finally got situated. I held him tight by his collar. He took up the entire tailgate, and more....literally, he was right on the edge. Good thing I'm not a very big person, or this would never have worked out! Luckily, German Ridge Road is very smooth or we would have been in trouble! Off we went at 7-8 mph.. What a sight that must have been! LOL! Phil was doing something against the rules, by the way, so he kept looking back to see if any official forest trucks were coming up on us. No other vehicles came by the entire way to our destination. We were SO LUCKY he came along at the second he did! I'm really not sure we would have made it the rest of the way on foot. He couldn't take us all the way to the actual campground, but dropped us off about 1/2 mile, maybe a little less, from there. But, what a lifesaver he was!! So, that ended this little adventure! We got back, Bo ran to the water spigot and then we collapsed for the rest of the day!
I realize this post is getting quite long. But it has taken me so long to get something out, I figure I might as well just keep going with it. Hope you're still here!
I think I mentioned in that last, very short, post that we had a new addition to our camping set up. Actually it isn't totally new....I had it last April (2017) when we were camping out on that private property for awhile. You might recall our pop-up canopy thing bit the dust in a rain storm at Saddle Lake. We did without at Hemlock Cliffs, but I was ready to have some kind of coverage. I might have used this earlier this season, but frankly, I couldn't put it up due to the semi-fix of last year's broken arm, but that's a little better now, so I pulled this out of storage and brought it along to German Ridge.
It's a Barronett Hunting Blind. A pentagon. Each side and the top "pops out" like any other popup camping accessory. This is a little harder to put up than the canopy, but it's super sturdy. It's about 23 lbs, with a footprint area of about 41.5 square feet. 91" x 91" x 72", so it's pretty large! Easily large enough for our kitchen, the camp chair and the camp table for the water jug. It has no floor, like a regular tent, but I'm not ever going to sleep in it, so that didn't matter to me. One could just put a tarp down for flooring. You can open/close the windows totally randomly to expose as much, or as little light as you want. There are windows all the way around. This was especially handy when we had two days of rain! I put the canopy cover, which I saved, over it, just in case there were any pinholes. Stayed dry as a bone during some pretty hard rain. This blind retails for about $200, but it is so much more substantial than your every day tent.
I think that finally wraps up this long saga of our excursion to German Ridge! This is definitely a spot we would return to. Oh -- it's $8/night....$4 for us with our America The Beautiful Pass. It was well worth the $4.00! Well worth $8.00 if you are only camping a few nights!
Not sure when we will be heading out again. Still have all of the first paragraph's junk to deal with and, hopefully, resolve before too long. Will just have to see how it all works out!
So, until next time, enjoy your weekend...look for the leaves beginning to turn and remember..............
WATER - don't leave home without it! LOL!