this happened to be one of my more exciting outings so far. i left my comfort zone a bit more then usual. from camping in a primitive camp site, to leaving the pavement for my first bits off road excitement. i love this state forest, and i will be back.
i researched for a camping site that would allow me to hit a few dirt roads this time. i wasn’t looking for anything difficult, just hard packed dirt fire roads that would make me feel more adventurous. to leave the pavement. what i found in my research was wharton state forest. it was within 3 hours from my brooklyn apartment, and has many many forest paths that were legal to drive / ride on as long as your vehicle was legally registered and insured.. with a license plate. i usually determine the weeknight i want to camp that week based on the weather. Thursday night looked like the clearest night of the week. the problem is i found the place the night before i wanted to camp, and you need more then 24 hours to make reservations in most of these places. i called them and they told me i had to be there before 4pm to reserve a site. no exceptions. guess i wasn’t going to get much work done that day.
i left work early, got home, packed, and left brooklyn around 1pm, but not before stopping for a quick bite at L&B Spumoni pizza. i got on the road, drove my 2.5 hours and got to the visitor center around 3:30. i need to mention that having a real windscreen and a place to rest my legs makes a 2.5 hour trip much easier.
i really didn’t know what to expect of the camp sites. i read online about the 5 or 6 different camping areas they had in the park. one of the sites was the main camp area that had electricity, and water hookups and plenty of camping sites within it. that looked to be the crowded most visited site. i didn’t want that. the other 4 sites were all called primitive sites, and 2 of those you had to hike there. so i was left choosing between the 2 camping sites that were primitive, and that i could ride my bike up to. the lady at the visitor center helped me reserve a spot and gave me directions to get there. it was about 20 minutes away. this is a big forest by the way. it could easily been 45 minutes away if i chose a different site.
finding the camping area was interesting. it was a tiny little sign to a tiny little dirt (sand) path. for some reason, most of the forest was sand under the dirt and trees. so the path was somewhat sandy and mushy, but luckily mostly hard packed dirt. it was about 1/4 mile in to the forest to get to the camp sites. once in the camping area, the entire area was thick mushy sand, with some paths covered in yellow rocks making it easier to ride on.
i was unsure of my self on these sandy areas. right when entering the path off the road i almost fell. then once in the park again, i hit thick mushy sand and almost toppled over. having so much equipment loaded didn’t help. it took some time getting used to, a lot of clutch control, patience and balance. seemed mostly like a confidence building exercise.
i met a dude right when i arrived who stopped me in my tracks to talk to me about his R1200 GS, and to tell me how much he liked my bike. i was sweating still in full gear, not yet even at my camp site, but it was fun chatting.
i finally found my camp site. it was just an empty area with a fire pit. no picnic table, a first for me. sounds small, but so far while camping, picnic tables have been the center of all my interaction. i was a bit nervous about where to cook, if i would be able to do it on the floor. i parked my bike, and set up my little action cam to record some of my activity. i built my tent, and my chair. i then took my top case off and prepared the bike to carry fire wood. i rode in to town, finally found some fire wood and loaded up. i also tried to find a small portable table. no luck, but i did find a bottle of wine.
i got back to site, and it was still just around 630. early. i unloaded the firewood, and my side cases. the bike was now bare. i hid everything in my tent hoping no one would take anything, and headed out again, this time in search for hidden forest paths. light weight, i thought i had a better chance of not trashing my bike, breaking my side cases etc.
i found a little path, and cautiously entered it. this was an all mushy sand, 2 track path in to the woods. leading who knows where. i saw tire tracks, and so i felt a bit confident i was allowed to be there. but having street tires, instead of knobby tires, i was hesitant. i finally sucked it up and forged further in. it was scary, but amazing. beautiful green woods to the left and right of me as far as i could see. a beautiful winding path ahead of me. it took me some time but i learned how to handle the mushy sand a bit better. towards the end i even got quick at it. not as quick as the gif you might have seen, thats been sped up .. because gif. it felt amazing to be out there, and i was proud of myself and my street tires. i finally got off the pavement, and had a mini adventure, on my adventure bike. baby steps.
i got back to camp around 730, started my fire, and began preparing dinner. i ended up using my top case as a table, and to my surprise it actually worked pretty well. the problem was, i indulged in a bit too much in wine and random green herbs, so my balance and accuracy doing simple things was soon greatly diminished. i made my baby chicken, that was great. but when i got to my two hot dogs, i dropped the first one in the dirt while cooking it in the pan. i threw it out. my 2nd dog, i thought to my self i better not drop this one. the pan flopped over again, the dog in the dirt. this time i went to the pump by the well and washed it off. the walk back from the water pump was a woozy one. i realized i was in over my head. lesson learned. don’t indulge too much while camping, as you’ll need your wits with you at all times. small amounts are fine as proved in the past. this time i surpassed my limits. by 1030 i was dizzy and had to goto sleep before i puked. lightweight i know.
that night was a tough night, i had my rain fly half open to the sky so i could see the stars, yet i could barely look up without wanting to puke. i had to keep my eyes closed. i was pissed at myself. on top of that, it was a chilly night, low 60’s. i ended up mid sleep waking up to roll the rain fly back down. it wasn’t doing me any good anyway since i couldn’t look up. i was nauseous all night. i even woke up nauseous. after a cup of coffee i started feeling better. good old coffee. probably my best friend camping is my cup of coffee. that and my iPad for music and reading material. meanwhile, back to that water pump / well. that thing is super cool and a first for me. it was much more fun to use that next morning when i was a bit more heads up.
i made myself my standard breakfast so far.. scrambled eggs in corn tortillas with melted cheese. delicious. i packed up the camp site, and headed to my parents house in jersey for the weekend. my family spends the summer at my parents on the jersey shore, i spend a few nights a week in brooklyn since work requires my ny presence.
getting back to my parents house was a shorter trip. 1.5 hours. i got home to my beautiful wife and kids and a great hello. i showered, and got back to work for the 2nd half to the day friday.
i really loved that trip. i loved camping in a primitive site. i loved the water pump. i loved getting off road. i loved taking great video finally. id love to go back to that forest, next time more prepared.