Matt & I share a love of the outdoors, so I finally marked a date on the calendar as our first camping trip, and said come hell or high water, we are hitting the road. After a few last minute trips to The Sportsman's Warehouse, we hit the road at 5am Friday morning headed for the White Mountains. Unfortunately, the most reliable vehicle we have at the moment is my little red Honda, which was packed to the gils. didn't mind.
The poor dogs barely had enough room to lie down. Sadie, who loves car rides and wags her whole body at the phrase "who wants to go for a ride in the car? Buster, who gets carsick, but loves to be wherever we are, put up with the inconvenience.
We arrived in Prescott and made a quick stop at Wal-mart to grab fishing line, and clean up after Buster got carsick. after coaxing the dogs back into the car, we headed for Woods Canyon Lake. We were about the 4th party into the campground by 8:30am, and everything looked a lot like an urban park. Firepits were already made, charcoal grills were in the camp, and your campsite was about 40x50. Not quite what I was expecting, but we were going to have a good time. We set up camp, then headed down to the lake to see if the fish were biting.
The dogs were extraordinarily happy to be out of the car, and were running around as far as their leads would let them sniffing the air, peeing on rocks and trees, and having the time of their lives. Woods Canyon lake was beautiful, but already pretty crowded. The weather was a bit chilly, and once the wind picked up we headed back to camp. I was exhausted, and irritated that the campground was filling up so quickly, complete with two tiny hurricanes that were running through our camp, shrieking at the top of their lungs. A nap sounded like an awesome idea, so I laid down.
Matt was 10x more irritated than I was, so he put the dogs (poor Buster!!) back in the car and decided to see if Bear Canyon (a much more primitive campground 15 miles up a washboard dirt road) was open. 1.5 hours later he came back, shook me awake, and we packed up and hightailed it out of Woods Canyon. Don't get me wrong, commercial camping is awesome if you have small kids, or don't know how to camp, but it wasn't what we were interested in. We made it out to the Bear Canyon campground, and it was perfect. There were only 3 other parties in the whole campground, and we managed to triangulate ourselves so that we weren't right on top of one another. There were no street lights, no paved roads, and we built our own firepit. (If you've never had a steak cooked over a campfire, you are missing out on a culinary delight!!). The sky was filled with stars; it felt like I could touch the entire Milky Way. And it was quite. No kids shrieking and running through the camp, no generators, just the sounds of the campfire crackling and my ipod playing softly in the background.
Buster, after 6 hours of being in the car, being carsick, and now freezing, was not having such a perfect time. I had even brought a small sweater for him, since he has thin fur and 0% body fat. The sweater helped, but he was terrified of the campfire, so he laid as far away as he could get on his lead. He did come closer when we offered him steak, but was still very cautious, and shivering!! It was pathetic, as you can see. Poor Buster, no dog bed, it's freezing, and he's still a bit shaky from the car ride. He is definitely not a camping dog. After dinner and stargazing, the 4 of us (2 people, 2 dogs) gathered in our 3 person tent. Buster slept right under Matt's armpit the whole night!! Sadie, who has been camping with Matt multiple times, enjoyed herself much more, although she wasn't used to being on a lead.
The next morning we got up, experimented with the old propane grill I borrowed from my parents, and ended up placing the percolator in the fire in order make coffee. The camping trip was a learning experience. After breakfast, we hiked down to Bear Canyon Lake, which was even more beautiful than Woods Canyon. There were quite a few Kayaks and Canoes on the water, but everyone was having a good time. After 2 hours of fishing, I noticed that I hadn't seen my bobber in a while, assumed I had gotten caught on something again, and started to reel it in. Once my line started to fight me, I realized I had hooked the first trout of our trip! Trout don't bite as hard as bass, and since I was reading rather than watching my line, I didn't realize right away I had a trout. This gives the trout an opportunity to swallow the hook, which is horrible if you're trying to do catch and release fishing. I wanted trout for dinner, and luckily my fish was plenty big to keep for eating.
We fished a while longer, but couldn't get any more bites. The dogs were getting antsy, so we headed back to camp for naps and lunch. We let the dogs sleep in the car, off the dirt, and where it was warm. Around sunset, Matt wanted to try his luck at fishing again, so we headed back to the lake. I was sending all sorts of good mojo to Matt, the lake gods, and the trout king, as I didn't want to be the only one with a fish. Luckily Matt reeled in a whopper after about an hour, and once the sun dipped behind the treeline, we called it a day and headed back to camp to cook our bounty.
Trout is best cooked in tin foil packets, with a little bit of seasonings and butter, placed directly in the campfire. The food was Buster's favorite part of the trip. He got plenty of fish and steak extras in order to coax him near the fire.
The next morning we packed up and headed home. Dirty, exhausted, and frustrated after trying to cram everything back in the car (we got it all out here, so surely it must all fit back in!!), we made our way home. Buster's torture was only completed upon the dreaded bath that was a necessity as soon as we walked in the door. Matt & I will definitely head back north to camp and fish again soon, but it will either involve only Sadie, or just the two of us, and the dogs can stay home with their comfy pillows and air conditioning.
For more photos of the trip, including beautiful shots of the Mogollon Rim and both lakes, please visit my Flickr page. http://www.flickr.com/photos/awilderm/sets/72157623990836829/