Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.
The sliver of a crescent moon is barely still hanging in the early morning sky…I slip out of the camping trailer quiet as can be so as not to disturb anyone and take a deep breath. The air is cool and still, unusual for July. Dawn makes its way over the horizon in shades of orange as I begin my walk.
The campground is silent at this hour apart from a few other early risers. I suspect many are sleeping in from their late night reveling and over indulging of food and drink that seems to accompany camping with good friends and family. The air is heavy with the smell of camp smoke from last night’s blazes. Soon, the embers will be breathed back to life and the aroma of bacon and eggs frying on cast iron will take over…
It feels good to stretch my legs as I make my way around the sites. A few night time birds are still calling…A mockingbird sings and does it’s best imitation of a whip-poor-will from somewhere deep in the oak trees surrounding the campground. An old familiar barred owl calls from across the lake and is answered back by another owl even further away. But, the night dwellers voices are soon overtaken by the songs of robins and cardinals as the first light creeps into the tree canopy. A few starlings skit around on the path in front of me and add their rough voices to the chorus of early birds…
With each minute, life comes back to the woods with the increasing sunlight. Chipmunks dart on and off the camp road and the dull buzzing of cicadas revving up and down picks up. Crows caw off in the distance and soon all of the wildlife will be joined with the sounds of kids riding their bikes through the campground and the laughter of adults sitting around their morning fires as breakfast is prepared.
I round a bend in the road and exchange pleasantries with another camper/walker and we both continue on our way. The older gentleman walked with purpose, as if on a mission to get in his steps before the day grew too old. I lost track of my own steps in my head, somewhere around 1000 before the distractions of bird sounds and the wave of campfire smoke took my mind to other places. But, I’m not too worried about how many steps I’ve taken this morning as the company of mother nature has been good. Another 10 minutes and I’m back at my trailer, stoking the hickory coals in the fire ring. A few pieces of fatwood kindling and a couple of long breaths have the flames curling again and in short order, eggs in bacon grease will be on the menu. I sit back in my chair and stare at the fire for a few seconds and enjoy the quiet of a new day and my mind is renewed.
If you haven’t been to one of the many state parks or state recreation areas here in Indiana, I’d highly recommend giving them a try. Camping doesn’t have to be complicated, uncomfortable or expensive and just about anyone can do it. In light of all the negative news these days, it’s refreshing to get outdoors at one of our parks or campgrounds and let our minds be cleared of the clutter and get back in touch with nature and ourselves. For more information about camping at our state parks go to secure.in.gov/dnr and search state parks and lakes.