My son is home from college so we went out for an overnighter. I checked ReserveAmerica and nobody reserved my favorite site, #004 at Lower Forge. We took a chance and just walked into Atsion office and paid $6 total for the campsite, as opposed to $18.75 if I used the website. The down side with walk-in is there's no guarantee there will be an available campsite.
We originally planned on hiking 10 miles Saturday, and 7.5 miles on Sunday, but it was extremely humid. We went the most direct route, 6.5 miles. There were plenty of blueberries to be had, but I had difficulty convincing my son that they were safe. Oh well, more for me!
We saw more wildlife than I am accustomed to seeing including an entertaining turtle:
He didn't like the camera so his strategy was to hide behind my son's boots.
We also found a Northern Scarlet snake, a pretty rare snake for these parts. At first I thought it was a coral snake (poisonous), and told my son to stay away from him. I poked the snake with my boot, and that's when I realized he was dead. My son said, "If you thought it was poisonous, why would you move it with your foot?" Why, to see if it was dead, obviously! Once I flipped him over, I could see he had been run over.
When we got to the Lower Forge turnoff from Batona Trail, I was disappointed to see five or six vehicles parked there. Apparently, Lower Forge does attract car campers who don't mind dragging their gear 1/3 of a mile. Upon arrival at the campsite, it was crawling with car campers with huge ten-man tents, coolers, the works. They even had a boom box, which they thankfully did not play.
We set up our hammocks and tarps, and I could see our ground-dwelling neighbors at site #5 were fascinated. It wasn't long before they wandered over to admire our gear. It took us a long time to set up - my son seems to have hammock amnesia. He's been hammock camping plenty of times but can't seem to remember how to do anything. Whoopie slings, Whoopie hooks, Tarp flyz and hooks, underquilts and topquilts are all a mystery to him. We shared a campfire with the neighbors, having a few laughs before retiring at 11 pm.
A six-year-old kid woke up at 8 am, and he was a holy terror. He would start out saying something like, "Daddy, I think I need to go the bathroom." The father would reply, "Okay, son." Then ten seconds would pass and the little kid would scream at the top of his lungs, "I WANT TO GO TO THE BATHROOM NOW OR I'LL CALL MOM!" I tried to sleep a bit more but this kid kept screaming and issuing "I'LL CALL MOM" ultimatums about a variety of topics. Truly the most obnoxious terrorist kid I've ever met.
As I was trying to sleep, I overheard some hikers approach our neighbors and beg for water. There were six of them, and they were down to a liter among them. If I hadn't been dozing, I might have given them my Sawyer Squeeze, but somehow I doubt they would have drank brown water. My son was certainly none too keen on it - I had to force him to chug a liter of filtered Mullica River water before we hiked out, just so he didn't pass out. "Am I gonna get diarrhea?" he asked.
I took a swim in the Mullica River before we packed up and left. My son wanted nothing to do with the cool refreshing waters. "It looks dirty," he said. I'm glad I cooled off because it was even more humid hiking out. The water lilies were in bloom on Beaver Pond - very pretty.