We got set up quickly, organizing camp and hanging our food bags for easy meals.
We split the food into breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks/drinks.
It made it much easier, each bag was a different color and each colored bag had a different type meal in it, no more digging around for the cheese or having to move tomorrow's breakfast to find tonight's dinner.

Jake slept in the hammock, Ben and Chan shared a 2-man tent and I slept in my own 2-man tent. We had 2 picnic tables, a privy and best of all, Jim had brought down 10 gallons of water for us! No filtering from the creek or having to treat water! It was like camping at the Hilton.

The valley we camped in is a mecca for butterflies, the whole place is, really. We saw lots of this guy and his identical friends.

There's our campsite! It was pretty well-trodden by the creek, so we used already-bare spots for the tents.

While the kids played in the creek by the camp, I walked on down the road a while, keeping them in earshot, even though the water was thigh-deep at most. Some habits take longer to let go of.

Chan decided to walk along with me and the boys walked down the creek, chasing fish around and looking for snakes. I heard one leave the trail ahead of me once and Jake saw a little water snake on the way out the next day, but the creek itself harbored no visible legless wonders.

Chan is making vanilla pudding!

Our kitchen!

This trip started a new way of cooking for us, I am using freezer bag cooking, which you can look up more about online, there are a zillion sites.

For our gear, I cobbled together 2 potholders I bought at Dollar Tree for .50 each, using gorilla tape and a piece of insulated cloth across the bottom.
You put the food in the freezer bag, add boiling water, seal and close the top of the pot holders for a few minutes, shaking every now and then if desired.
After about 5 minutes, we opened the bags and added seasoning (we made ramen) and tuna and ate with chopsticks.

Ben is checking out the fish trapped in the pool by the campsite.

After dinner, around 6, Ben sacked out. He was tired all day and then the mosquitoes tried to drain him and the walk wore him out, we had to mess with his new pack to get it to fit, he has no hips, so it slid and his shoulders were carrying the weight until we got that sorted. At any rate, he was pooped, so we left him (after letting him know where we would be) snoring and walked along the trail a while, hopping in the water to swim at Blue Hole.

There were so many flowers in bloom!

And...non flowers!

After I told Jim of finding a leather flower last Sunday, he told me how to locate this one!

I have been on many hikes and seen loads of wildflowers, but this is the first time I can recall being aware that night was coming and the flowers were getting ready to sleep. Some of the flowers that only bloom a day like spiderwort and blue-eyed grass were getting softer. Spiderwort actually melts, an enzyme turns the petals into an oozing liquid. Blue-eyed grass just closes and it's over. It caught my breath, thinking I was bearing witness to the end of a cycle, that in the morning, that bloom would not re-open. A single day of existence.

The water was probably in the high 60's for temp, it was bracing to say the least and we created some noise pollution while we splashed around!

Heading back in the gloaming. This is the time of day that caused barred owls to question who does the cooking around your house?

Back at the campsite, it was nearly dark! We decided to have a fire and while that was getting started, Ben came out and joined us.
The fire did not last long, about 30 minutes, but we enjoyed it while we had wood. We could not get the larger pieces to burn, they were too damp, so we put them around the smaller fire to dry. They would have been perfect the next night!

When Ben got up, he cracked open 2 of his toes on the stump Jake was occupying. There was some drama and a good bit of bleeding and swelling. I patched him up with the first aid kit...a 3-pound thing I haul around with me even in my daypack. And one day, when I break my leg and can set it in the field, including poking the bone back in and adding stitches, I will be glad I have so much stuff.

Day Two