This past weekend I took my oldest daughter, Kimberly, to Hawn State Park and we hiked the Pickle Creek trail. The Pickle Creek Natural Area, which is within the borders of the park, is apparently very special because of the variety of plants, birds, and animals that live near the creek. The trail begins at a very nice picnic area in a stand of pines.
Then the trail follows the creek for about a mile. The creek bed is very boulder-strewn and quite pretty. Apparently there are few places in the state where so many types of rock formations are visible. The creek itself is described as "tea colored" which is a very good description. However the water is also described as "high quality". We couldn't figure out whether it was the water or the creek bed which gave the color. We were carrying plenty of water so we didn't bother tasting it for ourselves.
The terrain is quite rugged and so there are some nice views to be had. The forest is also very pretty and apparently has been managed using occasional burning so it is comparatively open and free of invasive species.
At the end of the trail we decided to bushwhack to a campsite we saw on the map. The camp is along another trail which picks up at the end of the pickle creek trail but we would have had to follow it around a loop which was several miles long and it was getting dark. Finding the camp took us a while because the map was only approximate. But then we realized that our GPS did show the trail which leads to the camp. So we used the GPS to intersect the trail near where we figured the camp must be and then followed it to the camp.
Often I just camp wherever the mood strikes me. But there are advantages to an established site, even a backcountry site like this one with no services. One advantage is that there is open, flat space. We were sleeping on the ground under a tarp rather than in hammocks so the flat space was welcome. In addition an established camp has a fire ring and so you can make a fire. That helps to make the night seem more cheery. We ate our dinner by the fire and then watched a movie on Kimberly's iPod and went to sleep.
I did get one shot of our camp the next morning. I pitched our tarp between two trekking poles. I really like this pitch because it's so easy to put up and provides 360 degree views. In the picture below our bug bivies are draped over the trekking poles to dry.
We didn't hike a lot of miles on this trip but we had a nice time.