Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Independence day camping at Yellowwood

Friday, July 6th, 2007

Sarah and I decided at the last minute to go camping Tuesday night. We weren’t even sure where we wanted to go, but settled on Yellowwood State Forest. We haven’t gone camping at any of the state parks yet, but my theory is that the state forests are a little less popular, and more remote, so they probably make for a better camping experience. I think we’re very lucky to have so many places to camp within half an hour of where we live that our biggest problem is figuring out where to go — even if we don’t decide to go camping until evening. There’s a slideshow at the end of this post.

When we got to Yellowwood, we drove through all three campgrounds to find the best spot. We settled on a camping spot in the Red Pine Campground. There were a few spots from which you could see Yellowwood Lake through the trees a little bit, but those were already taken. We found a site with a good place for our tent a bit back from the road, so it felt a little more secluded.

After setting up the tent, I suggested to Sarah that we hike down the trail that lead down into a ravine from our campsite. It looked a little boggy at the bottom, and I thought we might be able to see the lake from down there. Sure enough, we didn’t have to hike far at all before we were treated with a stunning view of Yellowwood Lake. I had brought my old film SLR camera, the Pentax K1000 I got when I was in high school to learn about photography.

Yellowwood Lake II
Yellowwood Lake from near our campsite

When I snapped a few photos, this old camera that I hadn’t used for quite some time put a big grin on my face. It felt so comfortable, and it’s about as simple a camera as you can get. No auto focus, no auto exposure, and the light meter is just a needle that moves up and down to tell you whether you’re under- or overexposing from the metered reading. The camera feels solid in your hands, and even the clicking of the shutter is loud and confident. You can feel it shake a little when the shutter releases. So it’s probably not ideal for the most crisp photos, but you *know* you’ve taken a photo — with authority.

Sarah seemed a little antsy, worried about the dog, who was still in the car, and getting the rest of our stuff set up. I kissed away her worries and we enjoyed the beautiful scene a little bit longer.

All in all, this was very similar to our last camping trip. Once again, we made bratwurst. I did a better job of cooking them this time, waiting for the fire to burn down a bit more, and putting the grill a little higher off the fire. The brats were hotter throughout and took on more of the smoke flavor from the fire.

Some fellow campers were playing some music loudly early in the evening, but they turned it off before long, and most people went to bed pretty early. The rest of the world just melted away and it was just Sarah and me, and our dog, Rob. All you could hear were insects and bullfrogs, and the crackle of the fire; all you could see was our fire and the light given off by the nearly-full moon. There weren’t any lamp posts in the area, and I was very glad.

Before we went to bed, I managed to convince Sarah to go for a walk around the campground with me, despite the fact that we were both tired and drunk. It was just a small loop. We took a flashlight, but really didn’t even need it because there was so much moonlight. After our walk, I got my tripod out of the trunk and took some long exposure photos with my old camera, not sure how they’d turn out.

Moonlit Trees
Moonlit pine trees

It felt funny setting up the tripod and fooling with my camera’s very rudimentary cable release. It’s a button you push, but not an electronic one — it just pushes a wire down that opens the camera’s shutter, and it stays open as long as you hold the button down. It feels like having a direct, physical connection with the shutter.

We went to bed, hearing some kind of howling sound that may have been coyotes, but I’m really not sure. Maybe that’s wishful thinking. We woke up a couple of times during the night and felt cold, so we held each other close and tried to keep warm. I had the love of my life, my dog, and the forest to wake up to. It was great to wake up in the morning and see a line of trees leading into a ravine. We would have been warmer if we had closed the tent door, but it sure was great to be able to see out as soon as we woke up.

It was a fantastic camping trip. I really love being out in the middle of nowhere with Sarah and Rob and no distractions at all. No TV, no e-mail to check, no laundry to do or dishwasher to load — just us.

Update: I submitted two of my photos to StateParks.com’s page about Yellowwood. They accepted them; I’ll have to submit some more, both for Yellowwood and some other state parks.

5 Responses to “Independence day camping at Yellowwood”

  1. Marty Says:

    Sounds like a great time – glad to hear that you were able to get out on the spur-of-the-moment like that.

    And those old cameras – there is something magical about them. I never shoot film anymore but part of me longs to get out with some old Ilford black-and-white and do some shooting of natural settings.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Noah Says:

    Nice shots! By the way, I also have a K1000. The thing is a tank. Never, ever get rid of it. Funny, I just had to buy some fixer at the local indie photo/art shop downtown. No one deals in film anymore. I still have a buttload of Ilford HP5 to shoot, but haven’t been doing film as much as I’d like to. It’s so warm and organic — especially Ilford HP5 with Kodak HC-110, my favorite combo.

  3. John Says:

    Maybe you will become famous now that your photos are being accepted by publications.

    My old Cannon AE1 has become quite a dust collector.

  4. furiousBall Says:

    that place is freakin beautiful. really enjoyed that movie, nice choice of song too btw. rob is awesome at staring.

  5. MRMacrum Says:

    My favorite leisure activity over the last 17 years is camping. Only it was not until I simplified (a nod to your previous post) my efforts did I find my favorite type pf camping. I discovered solo off-road touring. Completely self supported, I would park the truck, grab my bike and trailer and head into the back country of Maine for 3 or 4 days. Completely alone with no real agenda, I explored the logging roads and trails. Some trips ended with hardly any real miles and others became marathon rides that covered huge areas. I have not been on one for about 4 years. This fall though, I am going to introduce a couple of riding buds to it with a tried and true loop that I call “Height of Land”. It is up in the area that Benedict Arnold took his army through on their way to attack Quebec back in the day.

    With so many beautiful locales in this country that only require the minimal amount of prep to enjoy, I find it amazing more people do not take advantage. Yellowwood sounds and looks like another pearl in America’s landscape. Good pics and good narrative.

Ear to the Breeze is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).