Friday, August 24, 2007

Camping At Gunner Pool, Aug. 17-19, 2007

I suppose the most memorable thing about this camping trip was, to make an understatement, the heat. The actual high temperature was about 100*F every day we were there at Gunner Pool, with the humidity pushing the heat index (humidex to my Canadian friends) well into the 110's.

Although there's a creek to wade and splash in, there are no showers and only a non-flushing (stinky) toilet and a water hydrant shared by several campsites. By the time we climbed back up the steep, sandy, rocky bank from where we waded and splashed we were hot and sweaty again and dirtier than when we got in the water.

We decided against wading again that evening and just took our soap and shampoo to the hydrant and washed up and washed our hair there rather than going back to the creek.

It was miserably hot and humid during the day, especially since the shady campsite we prefer was already taken by a weirdo who kept talking to himself. Our tent and campsite was out in the hot boiling sun from about 10 am until 7:30 pm or so with little or no shade. I can stand the heat a little better in the daytime as long as I have a little shade, something to drink and a little air stirring. But at night, if I'm hot, I can't sleep. And brother, let me tell you, it was HOT!

It sprinkled on us a little on Friday night, not even enough that we had to get in the
tent, but there was a pretty good lightning show all around us. It didn't do a thing to cool us off, though. Saturday night about 9 pm it rained hard enough that we had to get inside the tent and zip the windows almost all the way up to keep our beds from getting damp, but it wasn't enough to even settle the dust and was over in about 20 minutes. Talk about hot and steamy! Ick! Although there was another pretty good lightning show off in the distance.

Donna and I have already decided that we won't be going camping again when it's this hot. We much prefer chilly nights and mornings around the campfire to sweltering in the heat. Come on, Fall!

Other than the heat we enjoyed our time camping. Poor Donna had to do most of the carrying and loading of the car because I just can't do much with my bad knees and legs. I helped where I could and wish I could have done more, but we made it.

We also decided that we're all in a much better frame of mind when the weather's cooler. Hot weather seems to bring out the irritability in people for some reason. ;-)

Another thing different about this particular camping trip is the visitors we had...Four-legged furry visitors. We've had armadillos trek through and around our camp before, but this was the first time we had raccoons and skunks. Yes, I said SKUNKS!

The first night we were there, about dark we could hear something rustling in the dry grass and leaves. The only light we had besides flashlights was a kerosene lantern, which doesn't give off much light when it's pitch dark out in the woods. I had my trusty 3 D-cell flashlight and I shined it in the direction of the rustling. A raccoon!
And he didn't show any sign at all of stage fright from being in the spotlight! He ambled away and we went back to our conversation and coffee drinking.

A few minutes later he was back and we could hear something else in another direction. I shined my light and this time there was a skunk along with the raccoon. We were very quiet and still, I assure you! The skunk and the coon(s) came and went all evening, even after we went in the tent for the night. The second night Mr. Raccoon tore into our garbage even though Donna had hung the trash bag on the
lantern hook about 4½ feet off the ground. The coons grow tall in them thar hills!

At one time, the skunk came right up to Donna, within a couple of feet of her as she was sitting in her lawn chair. Another time, I was sitting at the picnic table and heard something on the other side of the table. When I shined my light over there, a raccoon was sitting on the bench on the other side with his front paws on the table, staring at me! I gave out a little "Eeep!", not because I was scared of the coon, but because I didn't expect anybody (anything?) to be looking back at me, and certainly not that close!

Donna and I think the main reason the animals were so bold is that they're looking for food. The late freeze we had back in the Spring killed most of the nuts and wild fruits the animals eat for forage, and the drought has kept the grasses and plants from growing that they feed on. This Winter is going to be a lean one for wild animals in Arkansas. Animals are going to starve and it's really sad. We just saw a little of it with the animals in our campsite, but the animals will have no choice but to come into populated areas in search of food this Winter. Animals are going to starve and will die because people will kill them to keep them out of their safety zone.

It's really sad....

And now the pictures....CLICK TO ENLARGE THE PICS.

It's very dry in the Ozark Mountains, as
you can see from this picture. At this time
of the summer the weeds, shrubs and bushes
should be so thick that the ground shouldn't
even be seen, but you can clearly see the
ground in this picture.
The bushes alongside the road are coated
in dust because it's been so long since
they've had any measurable rain.
I just stuck the camera outside the
window over the top of the car, and that's
the antenna you see in some of the pics.Here you can see some of the bluffs alongside
the road leading up the mountain to the campsite.
This is Gunner Pool, where we splash and
wade. It's usually deep enough to swim, but
as I said, it's really dry up there and the creek
is a little lower and slower flowing than usual.
The deepest water is against the bluff and is
about 4 feet deep right now.
That's Donna's grandson, Jon running

across from the left, and the other two
people are some unknown visitors.
This is Donna and Jon in a shallow area.
They explored a little farther downstream
but I stayed and soaked in the deeper water.

It was cool while it lasted!
I forgot to wear my watershoes and those
rocks are murder on the tootsies!
Here's the top of the dam upstream from the
swimming hole. We fish upstream from the
dam. The water is really deep upstream,
and the dam is probably 25-30 feet high.
I wouldn't want to fall off the downstream
side! I have walked across the dam, but it

was 10 years ago and I was much steadier
on my feet and had better knees and reflexes.This is our fishing hole on the deep side of
the dam. Usually the water is clearer and
running faster, but as I said, it's so dry
there's not as much water in the creek.
Most of the water in it is from natural
springs or the water would be even lower.
This is the shallow side of the dam that
I mentioned. If you squint just right you
can see Jon in the bottom right foreground.
That will give you an idea just how steep a
drop off there is from the top of the dam
to the bottom.
Our camp, complete with the tent out in
the hot boiling sun, the lovely toilet and
the water hydrant just out of sight beyond it.
Donna - "Do what?"
The creek is directly behind Donna,
about 30 feet down to the water, and
the fishing hole is about 50 yards upstream.

The swimming hole is about an eighth
of a mile downstream.
A butterfly that lit on my hand to taste me.
Please be so kind as to not point out
how dirty my fingernails are in this pic.
I'd just been putting worms on a fish hook
and hadn't washed my hands yet.
Apparently butterflies like worm residue. Ewww!

Reading by flashlight. One of my trademark lovely self portraits.
See my sunglow? It was gone by morning.Note the zipped rain fly on the window.
It was hot and steamy while we had to keep
the windows zipped, believe you me!
I like to call this picture,
"We're through playing now!"
And a few minutes later, the grin because
we're almost packed and ready to go.
And now, if you've read all the way through this, I'll wish you a great weekend and if all goes as planned, I'll see you again Saturday evening for my Sunday Dinner post.


MightyMom said...

wow, yukky heat!! I'd've called it quits a lot earlier than you did!!

I wanted a pic of that skunk that said hi!...or the raccoon!!!


kansasrose said...

Woooow...I can tell that it was hot as you know what ( that place we all don't want to go when we pass on) I feel sorry for the poor hungry critters. The coons are goin through my corn now. And my Lab tangled with a skunk last night and PU he reeks now. Made me wanna gag when I fed him this morning. I know what you mean about these animals needing food. Soon the coyotes will be moving in. I want to keep chickens but why bother? Enjoyed your pics...Did Donna do any star gazing? Did you catch any fish? it is cooler today...and we had some good rains. Hope you all get relief soon. Yep..hurry Fall! Love ya, Jen

Barb @ A Chelsea Morning said...

The heat and the steamy night in the tent doesn't sound very inviting, but other than that, it looks like great fun. If you're going to be hot, it might as well be in a pretty place! Still, I think I'll stay inside with my a/c until oh, about October. :-)

Big Mama said...

I got hot just reading about how steamy and dry it is there. Sounds like y'all had fun!

Dawn said...

Too bad things are so dry. And so hot. Me, give me air conditioning, or at least a fan!

Sounds like the skunks are all over this year. I'm picturing the raccoon sitting at the table, with his paws ready to pray. Great story.

I really gotta give you credit for doing this! But I'm with you on waiting a bit till it cools off for the next one. I remember some from last year that sounded like a lot more fun.

Hey, maybe that guy who was talking to himself was talking on his phone with earphones. That always freaks me out when I hear it going on.

Linda said...

I love camping Diane, but I don't think I would have done very well in that hot, humid weather. You get bonus points for sticking it out!
That first picture of the water looks exactly like our state park just up the road a piece. This year, with the abundance of rain we've had, everything is full to overflowing. Last year everything was practically dried up. We are having such extremes of weather this summer - all over the country.
It sounds like you had a fun time in spite of the weather. Getting up close and personal with a skunk just has to be lots of fun!!
Have a blessed weekend Diane.

Diane @ A Watered Garden said...

The pics of your trip look awesome!! What incredible scenery!! However, I have my limits on camping in the heat. It has to be cold enough for a nightly campfire for me!! We used to tent camp, but a few years back after camping with my parents in their 30' RV, I've become hooked on the comfort of RV camping. You were a trooper!! Have a great weekend!

Jen said...

im sori the heat was too much for you

looks like a nice place though

Val said...

I agree, it is more bearable to camp in the cold than it is in the heat. With the drought and this year's hot summer here we went up to our bush block less often - also the dam was completely dry so there was no way to cool off. It now has some water in it but I still wouldn't go up there if it was stinking hot. Humidity? You did well to survive that!

I rather like skunks. They are beautiful animals. Wouldn't like to get a good dose of their protective "aroma" though!

Lyndy said...

You are a better Girl Scout than me my friend. Looks like a beautiful area. I don't blame you though I would wait for cooler weather next time.

Love and Hugs, Lyndy

Greeneyes said...

110 are you out of your minds !!looks like a lot of fun but I would have to bring plenty of ice to sit in LMBO.
Love the pics and what a great shot of the butterfly tasting you ! you did a marvelous job taking us along ,I enjoyed it !Thank you , now go cool off,I am hot just lookin at these pic LOL
HUGS to you dear sister friend
love you!


violetlady said...

I haven't been camping for years and years. Sometimes the thought of it is enticing, but after reading this, I think not. Anyway - skunks freak me out!

Dick said...

See, I knew there was an advantage to having an RV to go camping in! The air conditioner will drop that temperature inside and the potty stays clean and un-smelly. Even in Spokane last July when the outside temp was around 100 it stayed about 82 inside. And cooler at night.

Doris said...

Even with the high heat, I envy you camping. I haven't been camping in almost two years and sorely miss it.
Hmmm I think I'll plan a weekend trip. :)