Camping Trip to Shawnee National Forest
I couldn’t keep the photos to a reasonable amount (over 10 but under 100, so I decided to just pick 10).
Monday morning we made our way on the six hour drive to the Shawnee National Forest. There were a lot of reports of severe weather and tornado watches, but I was determined to not let all that stop us. I kept watching the radar and by the time we got to the town outside the forest, I was sure the worst had passed and we could head in.
There are several different areas to camp in the forest, and we sort of just blindly picked the Bell Smith Springs area (as in, we didn’t know anyone that had gone before so just based on the short narratives, we liked this one). We finally made it to our campsite, we were the only ones there except one truck with a tiny camper, and even though it was dark and rainy, we set up shop (it took us two hours to get the tent and two tarp coverings up). Of course the minute we were done, it had stopped raining, but that just meant we could start a fire.
Tuesday morning, the other camper was gone and it was just us! We headed in to town for a couple essentials (fire wood, maps, etc.) and then came back to do a little hiking on a trail close to us.
Wednesday we went out to the Garden of the Gods Wilderness - MUST DO THIS. Since it was raining off and on it was a little foggy but still stunning! The majority of the photos above are from that area.
Thursday it was FINALLY sunny and warm. We took our hand at the Jackson Falls trail. After that we headed to the Rim Rock and Pounds Hollow trails that took us to the Ox-Lot Cave. When we got back to the campsite, there was a sizeable group that moved in to the grounds, so we were no longer alone.
Friday morning before we headed out for Nashville we went down to the other trail near our campsite that took us to Devil’s Backbone. By the time we packed up there were probably four or five more campsites taken, so I’m glad we went during the week. It was a little spooky being there all alone, but also made it more serene.
Each night we’d start a fire, cook brats (or veggie dogs in my case) and veggies on the fire, make s’mores (with Reeses mmmm), drink beer (duh) and Al would strum on the guitar. Mornings we’d make pancakes or eggs & veggies over the little alcohol stove we brought.
So even though it rained over half the time we were there, overall it was an amazing time. Some of the trails weren’t as clearly marked as others, so sometimes we turned back a little early just to be safe. We love Fall camping for the weather and the colors - but this would be amazing in the Spring when all the snow melts and the brooks/creeks/waterfalls are flowing.
We peeked around at a couple of other campsites (Pounds Hollow and Garden of the Gods) and Bell Smith Springs was the best. We didn’t make it to the other two - Lake Glendale (largest one by far, has showers) or Camp Cadiz - but I’d bet ours was still the best. I love getting out and away, but taaa-rust I was ready to be back with running water in any form (no showers, sinks or flush toilets).
Oh! I almost forgot about Fernando the Walking Stick. On the first night, I felt something on my hand sitting by the fire and I said “bah!” and flicked it off, thinking it was just a bug. Well, a little later I was shining my flashlight and saw antenna on my chair and looked under the arm - there was a walking stick! He must have fallen from the tree above. We took a bunch of pictures then put him on the tree.
The next day, we’re driving back from town and Alex looks up and THERE IS A WALKING STICK IN THE CAR. I like to think it was Fernando trying to get back to me. We let him out somewhere along the road because he was struggling getting around. The last day we were packing up and we saw another walking stick on the tent! They were everywhere. Crazy lil creatures.