Monday, December 9, 2019

Cold Weather Camping at Indian Lake: Part 2--Out and About

Fireside mobile office

Last night after the early sunset, I went outside to wash a few dishes after dinner and tidy up the camp. To my surprise, the dishwater was a slurry of ice, so washing my dishes was somewhat like rubbing them with snowcones! Now, that was interesting--a real pioneer experience!

At 25 degrees Fahrenheit this morning and awake before dawn (even after a good, full night's sleep), I lazied around again, writing and reading the news, cooking breakfast later, another meal of home fries and scrambled eggs. Second time's the charm, though, and this morning's meal was quick and fun--breakfast at 10, clean-up and then easing into my second hike around the lake at 11:45.

A walk back in time . . . 

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh:
but the earth abideth forever.

The sky was a hazy colorless translucence with patches of faded, faint blue. It was a good day for black and white photography because of the almost-winter fade of the foliage and the shadowless, muted quality of the light that leached colors to shades of gray. I walked easily, allowing for muscles to loosen, not in a hurry, photographing my way around the lake, even sitting quietly a couple of times on trailside benches to just blend into the environment to allow the wildlife to become active again.

It was quiet, though, with just a few woodland birds and squirrels active. At one point a flock of geese circled overhead and then landed on the lake water, their rambunctious calls echoing across the lake's surface, ripples of sound along with the ripples of their landing. My hike today included hiking through a bird-watching copse of trees, an area about two hundred yards long and a hundred yards wide that borders the main park area. A mown trail meanders through the wood and I followed it, but it wasn't really long enough or diverse enough to captivate.

Red berries on a late fall day

I've found the short daylight hours have changed my eating schedule--later breakfast, later lunch, and then a light dinner. Otherwise, I'd be cooking two meals and cleaning up by headlamp. I can bake potatoes or boil water for muesli inside the camper, even if it's dark outside. It just feels comfortable to fit my routine more into the natural environment when camping. I was asleep a bit before 9:00 and then awake by 5:30 this Sunday morning, following my new routine.

Des Moines River, gray water reflecting gray sky

Farmington, Iowa, population 618, the Legion Hall open to the public,
but I continued my Sunday walk.

Today it's warmer, up to 50 degrees, so after writing and checking the news this morning the sun was higher in the sky, I ate a quick breakfast of muesli and was hiking by 9:30. Rather than taking a third lap around the lake, today I decided to cross the river and walk around in Farmington. I crossed and entered town, about a mile, and then walked down Front Street that--yes--fronted the Des Moines River, which flowed along about twenty feet below road level. I ambled along and finally saw a woman outside checking her mailbox. Asking her, "Has the river ever flooded here?" her reply was, "Oh, yes, back in '93 our house had about twelve inches of water in it!" That's a lot of water for the river to rise that much and then to flood the whole river basin.

Textures and patterns this time of year, not colors

The river road skirted the river, providing silent company

Walking on, I saw a sign that read River Valley Lodge and Campground, a private campground that I'd researched before. I decided to continue on and check the place out, if it weren't too far down the road. I walked on a bit more and did finally reach the campground. No one was around, even though the lodge was open. There was a sign mentioning that it was Sunday, and the owners were just a mile down the road, and to call if necessary. No, thanks! The camp is set up as an equestrian basecamp for campers who want to horseback ride the trails of Shimek Forest--a horse version of what I do with my bicycle, less upkeep for my bicycle, though.

The round trip hike was five miles, which was long enough that I was glad to reach camp again and cook a big lunch. I did sit down and rest a couple of times during the hike, enjoying the flow of the river and the gray of the day. It's 2:30 now. I was going to say it's mid-afternoon, but is it mid-afternoon if it's going to be sunset in two hours? Hmm, not sure, but it is definitely 2:30!

Meadow vista near my campsite

The white oak nearby, ancient and stately

I've enjoyed today's greater warmth, and now the wind is picking up, still from the south and a harbinger of rain tomorrow. I've picked up camp some, putting my cooking table and rug away so I won't have to pack wet tomorrow. I can cook tonight on the trailer's front storage box if necessary, and I can wipe my feet on the trailer step if it starts raining. Now it's just time to relax and enjoy. The door to my camper is open with just the screen. It's not too cold yet, and I'm enjoying this day with its warmer temperatures and overcast, muted, late-fall moods. Not much excitement, but that's why I came. I'm going to do some stretching asanas to ease my muscles after my walk. I kept the bed made today so I could be comfortable after my longer walk. Now for a cup of tea and then an early fading away of the light, gray day to cloudy night.

A mist of gray rain as the final morning begins before I depart.

After an easy night--not too cold--dawn is slowly giving way to an overcast day. With the cloud cover, no sun is rising over the lake, or rather it is rising but the clouds obscure its brilliance. All that can be seen is a gradual increase of light on a gray day. I'm warm in my camper, packed up from last night, and will head home before the rains come and the cold north wind turns the day from gray to a brittle ice blue. Safe travels to me and all of you.

Part 1 of this series of two articles is here.

One Facebook comment on my blog post remembered and posted a song about Indian Lake--not the same lake but definitely a happy song (about summer).

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