Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Poison Ivy, Ticks and Bears, Oh my!

Poison Ivy, Ticks and Bears, Oh my! 

Ok, Ok. There weren't any bears. Well, no bears that we know of. We finally got to our first camping trip of the season and we did, something new for us, camp in "bear country". That meant we needed to take extra precautions to avoid inviting bears to our campsite. Like I said, we did not actually see any bears. Oh, wait. Except for that one very exciting moment when I made the entire family freeze in their tracks and "SHHHHH!" because I saw a bear cub. It was a very tense few moments before the Daddy pointed out that the bear cub was actually a ferrel black cat. Ah, well. So, in conclusion, no bear sightings. 

The weekend started off a little rough. Friday was a wash out due to heavy rain storms. We finally arrived at Stephen's State Park in Hackettown, NJ on Saturday at noon. Upon inspecting the campsite with my surprisingly keen eye for once, I spotted a bunch of poison ivy. Especially with our littlest camper running around, who is only 15 months old, we decided to find a new campsite. We loaded everyone back into the car and searched the campgrounds. We did find another great spot and by 1:30 we were finally unpacked and CAMPING! 

Our first order of business was to get to hiking. We decided to head to Saxton Falls. From our campsite, it was a little less than 2 miles to get to our destination. We figured we would mostly be walking along the river so the elevation changes wouldn't be drastic. We thought it might be a good idea to take the stroller for a change.  Well, that was a mistake. But the results were hysterical. 

There is a small part of the trail we hiked that is along the main road. That part was a little tricky with the whole mob in tow. However, once we got to the portion that led off the road, we could quickly put that behind us and focus on the gorgeous trail in front of us. It was a steep climb to the main trail. It had some tricky footing, steep declines on one side of the trail and sometimes even on both sides. It was an engaging path with a small creek on one side, lots of little creatures to see and a tricky little obstacle to climb through. (Yea, with a stroller.)  

Walking through woods and particularly tall grass can mean ticks. They are just a reality of being outdoors. Sure, they can give you the creeps but for the sake of the babes, its best to put on a brave face and shake it off should you spot them. After every hike and throughout a camping trip the Daddy and I stop and check the kiddies and ourselves for ticks. We carry needle-nose pliers in our backpacks because they are our favorite tick removal tool. We found a few over the 2 days we were away on this trip but our family policy is to remove them and move on. Done. If you and your family hit the trails, check out this helpful post about checking for ticks on

Ah, so, the obstacles. They can make a hike even more fun when you get to climb and crawl over them. However there was no way around these large, fallen trees branches in the path and with the stroller... well, we had a bit of a perplexing situation. But we solved it pretty quickly.  I crawled through and then the Daddy started passing kids through.

Then there was the business of getting the stroller through. Ha! Poor Daddy! 

We got to the Falls and hung out a bit, the kids were awestruck. They really enjoyed seeing Saxton Falls. But it wasn't long before we were heading back to our campsite with thoughts of a roaring campfire in our heads. 

No dinner tastes quite like a dinner cooked over a campfire and after working up a significant appetite, we were all looking forward to dinner!

I love watching the kids playing while we get the fire and food going. They love to investigate the natural world, make up games and collect treasures like cool rocks. They found and observed so many new bugs and spiders. But when dinner was ready, they didn't need to be called twice, they were hungry!

As you might imagine, no camping trip is complete without s'mores! The olders could not get enough! 

Despite the late start we all felt like we had a really full camping trip. We got in a great hike, had lots of fun play, made cool discoveries and some awesome family time. You know what? The kids are already asking about when we are camping again!!! 


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