Camping On Friday the Thirteenth- Pokagon State Park

How did this girl celebrate Friday the 13th? I went camping in a fairly isolated section of the campground at Pokagon State Park. Pokagon State Park is located in north eastern Indiana and is approximately one hour from where I live.

The park was originally called Lake James State Park, but was changed to Pokagon State Park  to  honor the state and regions Native American heritage. Leopold and Simon Pokagon were father and son and the last two notable leaders of the Potawatomi.   Please click here to learn more about the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi.

Also noteworthy, is that Pokagon State Park was home to the Civilian Conservation Corps , Troop #556,  from 1934-1942. The CCC was created as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to provide employment for unmarried boys and men 18-23 (later 17-28) as a relief effort during the Great Depression.

While the CCC camp is long gone, you can still see evidence of their work in the park through the stone and log structures and also in the pines and lilac trees that still thrive here.  While on one of my hike’s, I came across one of the old stone dams. You will see a photograph of the stone dam in my photo gallery.

I wanted to mention that the staff I talked to were so nice and really helpful. Since I hadn’t visited this park before, I had a lot of questions and everyone was happy to assist me.  They also have a really nice camp store with pretty much everything that you would ever need, including bundles of fire wood. Too bad I brought my own, there’s was cheaper.

I arrived in early afternoon on Friday the 13th. I reserved my campsite in campground #2 site 247. This site is in a small cul-de-sac and is fairly isolated from the rest of the campground. On this day, it was myself and one other camper who was a few sites over. Otherwise, there weren’t a lot of people around.  I was avoiding other people at all costs as I was having an “introverted episode”.

In all seriousness, I wanted to mention that there are no bad campsites in this campground. They are all great. They are incredibly spacious and there is enough room between you and your neighbor to allow you to have some privacy.  I was overjoyed.

The first adventure that I had was when I was setting up my tent, I set it up on a nest of what I am pretty sure were fleas. Tiny and jumpy. So, I shook off and moved a few feet. I set my tent up and sprayed it with Permethrin to keep the jumpies and the crawlies away.  I didn’t have an issue after that. I am pretty sure I was standing on a nest.

This was the first time I had set up my brand new tent. In another blog entry, I wrote about ordering a Kelty Trail Ridge 3 tent and that it was a replacement for another tent that I no longer owned. That entry was called Planning and Deep thoughts-Replacing What Was Lost.  This camping trip was its maiden voyage.  This tent is great. Kelty products are quality and I honestly can’t say enough that’s positive about this tent.

After I was fairly settled in, I decided to take a drive around and get to know the park. My goal was to spend all day Saturday hiking. Lu and I hopped back in the car and drove through all of the campgrounds, we found the Nature Center, the saddle barn and the giant Toboggan Slide that the park is known to have. We walked around and explored the beach and visited with the horses for a few minutes.

I was so over the moon happy.

As it got darker I returned to my campsite and started a fire. I spent the next few hours sitting in front of the fire. I roasted some hot dogs for Lu and I to enjoy for dinner. I had my iPad with me so I could do some fireside reading. I also enjoyed some music.  Most of all, I just took a breath and relaxed.

As I was sitting enjoying the campsite, I was visited by a raccoon who was watching me through the trees. Later I learned my lesson of not having Lu tethered or leashed. After several warnings because I noticed her watching the woods where the raccoon had been, Lu saw her opportunity to go after the raccoon.

There was a short fight before I got her to come back and somehow, Lu didn’t have a scratch on her. A review of the area where the tussle occurred didn’t show any evidence of the raccoon being hurt either.  Huge miracle because based on the all the noise, I was expecting to take Lu to the emergency vet. 

Follow the rules and keep your dogs on a leash!

I decided to turn in around 11pm. It was starting to sprinkle a bit. I knew that there was rain in the forecast and pretty much didn’t care. I drifted off to sleep while listening to the rain fall outside of my tent. It was amazing.

The temperature dropped about 30 degrees over night. I experienced heavy rain and high winds for awhile. My tent held up like a champ. No leaks.  Bone dry and between Lu and my own body heat and my sleeping bag, we were warm and comfortable. Even though it was cold, it was still wonderful.

We got up, I started another fire and made some breakfast. I enjoyed scrambled eggs and some sausage. I boiled water for coffee and even made some fried apples. It was just wonderful.  Of course I shared some sausage with Lu.  We sat around for awhile and then headed out to hike for the day.

I drove to the parking lot of the Potawatomi Inn, which is located inside of the park, and left my car there for the day. Armed with water and snacks, we headed out to find trail 3. Our destination was Hell’s Point, which is the highest point in Steuben County.

It didn’t take long to reach Hell’s Point.  I have never understood why people give such horrible names to beautiful places. The only thing hellish about Hell’s Point was the climb up the stairs to get there. Or down the stairs, depending on how you come in on trail 3 to get there. It’s just an overlook.

We met two other women at Hell’s Point and had a really nice conversation about my hydration pack. One of the women explained that they both were going to “backpacking boot camp” in Vermont in June. They were looking to buy some gear. I did my civic duty and directed them to REI to look at gear and explained the benefits of being a member.

I also educated them about Lyme Disease and asked them to be vigilant about checking for ticks and suggested that they treat their clothes with Permethrin. They both took notes and one of them was Googling REI and Permethrin. I thought that was great.

Lu and I hiked along trail 3, 9 and then 7. Trail 9 was a lot of fun and loops around the Potawatomi Nature Preserve. The springtime wildflowers were in bloom and the Dogwood’s were all blooming. It was really beautiful.

I got pelted with frozen rain quite a few times. I dressed for the weather, thankfully I had brought a hat, gloves and my wool head scarf that I always just wear around my neck. I love that thing. I decided that it was better to be pelted with frozen rain than unfrozen rain. Ha!

On my way back, I inadvertently took the wrong trail and ended up doing parts of trail 3 twice. After reviewing my map, I finally found my way and started heading out of the woods. I stopped and took a break on a bench that was along the trail. I was taunted by a sign that pointed to trail #7 that was right in front of me.

After a minute or two of debating with myself, I looked at the map to see how long the trail was. It was an easy mile and a half, so I decided to go ahead and go. I was glad that I did.  Trail #7 is also known as Bluebird Hills. Between the Dogwoods in full bloom, the open meadow and the wetland, it was a breath taking sight from on top of the hill. It was like stepping into a painting.

Beautiful.

I completed the trail and headed back to my car. Lu looked wiped out. I was mostly hungry and cold. Yet, really okay with that. We drove back to our campsite to relax for a little while. It was almost 6pm.

I consulted my weather app and saw that the temps were going to continue to drop that night and it was going to rain again. I had to be up very early in the morning so I made the decision to just go ahead and pack up and go home.

Ugh. I didn’t want to leave.

I packed up and pointed my car to the west and went home. Relaxed and pretty happy.  The only thing worse than having to go home after camping out is having to put everything away when you get home.

It was the perfect weekend. I can’t wait to do it again.

Below are some photo’s I took over the weekend. I hope that you will check them out!