Don’t Leave Early, You May Miss The Best Part!

Last week was the 3rd camping trip of the summer.

The key criteria in selecting this particular spot was that it had to be remote, primitive camping: reachable only by canoe.

After doing some investigation we found Pillsbury State Park, in NH. And, the ideal site was totally secluded from the rest of the campground, reachable only via canoe. Score!

Cindy and I stayed 4 days / 3 nights.

Click here to view the campground map. We stayed at site number 38, located on the bottom half of the map, just below where the two ponds (Butterfield and May) join at “The Narrows.”

While not a huge, cold-water lake, which is our preference, it is a beautiful area to visit.

Here is the view from our front yard.

Pond

And, talk about primitive. When investigating I asked (for Cindy) if there was an outhouse at the site, to which the response was “Yes.” Below is what is called a “wet willy.” They didn’t fully qualify the term outhouse. But, it was fine as there was absolutely no-one else around 🙂

Wet Willy

As always, we did some fishing. We began using worms but had no luck. I then used a lure: the trusty Daredevil, and caught the only fish of the excursion. I’m pretty sure it was a baby pickerel. You’ll notice the lure is almost as big as the fish. So, back it went. As a kid my friends and I used to catch monster pickerels with Daredevils. While these are bony fish, if you catch’em big (18-24″) they are very good to eat!

Fish

Probably the 2 most exciting happenings of the trip involved a loon and then a downpour.

Let’s cover the loon first.

Although we didn’t get a picture or better yet a video (because it happened so fast) we sent a loon into a conniption fit (click here to look up the meaning 🙂 ). You see, we were paddling across the pond and came to a marshy, island spot in the middle. Cindy commented that she saw something that looked like a rock which seemed out of place. It was less than 10 feet away. As I gazed over I had a sneaky suspicion that it was some sort of wildlife.

Before we could say another word a loon rose up on its legs, furiously flapped it’s large, outstretched wings, jetted across the surface of the pond making sounds that only a loon can make. It was trying to lure us away from its nest.

Now, I’ve seen MANY loons in my life, but never a display of shear panic! And, the bird was MUCH larger than I would have imagined, since when observing loons they are typically in the water and you can only see their head and a portion of their neck – from afar.

Little did this bird know: it could have attacked, causing us to roll the canoe sending us swimming for our lives 🙂

Thankfully, its instincts told it to become a decoy.

As it was putting on its act, I noticed a large brown egg in its nest, confirming the reason for its display. Needless to say, we stayed away from that spot for the remainder of our time there…

Then, we had some rain, which was forecasted for the last full day of our stay.

The night before we proactively hung a tarp from the trees above our tent to minimize the amount of rain that would fall on our sleeping quarters. A good idea overall, but it didn’t rain much during the night making this unnecessary. However, there was wind, so the tarp made for an annoying noise-maker the entire night, as it sounded like a very large kite being blown around. I suppose I could have gotten up and cut it loose 🙂

Site

On the final full-day of our stay I arose to an overcast sky and fired-up the cooking torch (a small propane tank with a burner attachment that can be used to boil water or cook a meal) to start the water for our coffee. I then checked the weather on my iPhone. To my surprise there was a severe weather alert indicating that downpours were expected to begin within 30 minutes. I quickly woke Cindy and we prepared for the onslaught.

We already had our easy-up in place, over the picnic table. But, with heavy rain comes wind. So, we needed to install walls (a.k.a. tarp) on the corner of the easy-up facing the direction of the wind so that our gear wouldn’t get wet. Since we’ve done this before, it was a pretty quick procedure. Shortly after completing the setup the sky opened up!

After a couple of hours standing in our shelter I commented: I wonder if we could make a break for it?

NOT an easy task: breaking down camp, packing the gear in the canoe, paddling to shore in the driving rain, unloading and then loading everything (wet) into the truck. So, we quickly determined it would be best to ride it out.

Fortunately we both brought good books. Mine was the second in a series by a Hampton Beach native (Jed Power), who writes crime novels. I purchased 2 of his books while at Hampton Beach last week, completing the first (The Boss of Hampton Beach) prior to departing on our camping trip. The setting for his stories is Hampton Beach. And, if you’ve been there more than a few times and read his books, the stories truly come to life as he navigates you around the area as the story unfolds. An amazing experience and a recommended author!

Back to camp…We decided it would be more comfortable sitting in our camping chairs to read, but they wouldn’t fit under the easy-up in its current configuration, considering the picnic table was taking up all the space. So, we grabbed another tarp and hung it as a roof from the end of the easy-up (opposite the previously installed wall) to a couple of trees, creating a make-shift patio.

For the next several hours we “did a dance.” While reading, one of us would observe that the sun was out and it had stopped raining. We’d grab our chairs and move them outside, to continue reading our engrossing books. Then the rain would start up again, and we’d return to our shelter. We repeated this dance several times until finally the showers were over, and my book (Hampton Beach Homicide) was completed.

And, a beautiful rainbow was on display.

Rainbow

Now it was time to inspect our tent. Thankfully, none of our sleeping gear was wet. However, the bottom of the tent was so we emptied everything out, un-staked it from the ground and hung it from the trees to let the bottom dry out. Cindy, being the great sport she is, got under the tent and wiped down the bottom to make sure it was dry for the evening’s rest. If you zoom in you can even see the smile on her face 🙂

Cindy tent

All-in-all it was a great trip at a highly recommended camping spot!

Had we left early, prior to (or during) the rain, we would not have had the opportunity to complete our excellent books or witness the beautiful rainbow after the storm. And, finally, by riding out the storm we can say that we made the best of it, through what some would consider a miserable situation, fully enjoying the experience of raw nature 🙂

Life is Good! More to come!

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