Blomidon Provincial Park – Sweeney-style
When you’re hiking with a young family, sometimes just getting to the hike, is a hike in itself.
And when you’re camping with kids and pets, sometimes just getting to the campsite and making camp is worth a weeks holiday at five star resort. It can bring even the most loving couple to their knees.
First there’s coping with the over-excited children who’s energy does not match your own after days of organization, list-making and packing. Then there’s the physical labor of setting up camp while trying to fend off starving small people who don’t understand the motto: camping = slow food & slow service.
But it’s always worth it in the end. Right?
We headed off to Blomidon Provincial Park this weekend for our 2013 inaugural family camping excursion, our party consisted of Dad, our three girls; ages 6, 8 and 11 and our two whippets Pharoah and Cosmo and moi.
The past eight to fifteen days of rain and possibly the worst Spring EVER, had us longing for the great outdoors and a bit of sun. And thankfully, the clouds parted midway down highway 101. It was all meant to be and I was patting myself on the back for pushing the early family camping weekend even though the weather looked dire. What’s that saying, “Life is not about waiting for the storm pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
We were going to dance in the rain, damn it.
I took the liberty of naming our pop-up tent trailer Tahloola last summer after we graduated from tenting to ‘glamping‘. She’s a beaut and has made glamping absolute bliss for us — more time relaxing and adventuring, cooking and chilling and less time boiling water for dishes, blowing up beds and fighting over tent poles.
This weekend was to be Tahloolah’s first time in a Provincial park with no electricity and no water. So we charged her batteries and filled up her water tank. We were giddy at the thought of her independence and ability to function all on her own. We set-up our entire campsite in a mere 20 minutes and giggled (yes, I think we jinxed ourselves) as we heard the all too familiar sound of air being electrically pumped into air mattresses, which we knew would slowly spend the night deflating. Why don’t they make an air mattress that will at least take the entire night to deflate? Rather, you’re always left on the cold, hard ground around 5 a.m. when the cold is at it’s dampest.
Even though the clouds had parted, the temperatures were still hanging around 12 degrees Celsius and I’m fairly confident the temperature dropped down to a chilling six degrees on Friday night. That’s when our heater clapped out on us. We awoke around 3 a.m. wondering why we were experiencing that old familiar, middle-of-the-night, damp chill that we experienced back in the days when we were ‘tenters’.
But surely our heater would have kicked in and killed the damp, arthritic chill that was sneaking in through Tahloola’s seams. No, that night there was no heater to the rescue and Talbot took to the black, woodsy night to tinker with the gas cylinders and tamper with the electrical wires.
The only success he found was in successfully startling the kids awake with all his thumping, scratching and shifting of Tahloola’s parts. We bundled up and tried to sturdy ourselves through the early morning chill, managing to get a little sleep here and there.
Needless to say everyone woke up on the grumpy side of the tent.
Kids bickering about who stole who’s covers and one whinny dog who just wanted to be outside (but not on his own) to sniff the smells and be at one with nature. It was 5 a.m.
A little hike in the woods
After begging, negotiating and bribing a bit more sleep out of our fellow campers, Talbot BBQ’d a breakfast that would have made any cowboy proud. Campfire bacon, sausages, pancakes and homemade fruit syrup to top. It was going to be a great day.
We dressed and prepared for our 6 kilometre hike out of the park, through gnarly woods and past stunning vistas.
Got the water? Check. Sunscreen? Check. First-aid kit?… yes, I told Talbot. For it says clearly on the hikers manual to be physically fit and remember a first aid kit. He looked at me in that, “you’re O.T.T and packing too much” familiar way.
Not 15 minutes into the walk, our littlest daughter, Dahlia, went over on her ankle. Dahlia insists on galloping everywhere. Especially through the woods and over stumps and rocks. I remember running as fast as I could as a child, through forests and flying over bumpy stumps, tree roots and rocks. Oh to be airborne.
But we weren’t born yesterday. There was no turnip truck that we were falling off THAT day. When she started hopping about and crying about a sore ankle, I admit, we were skeptical. “It’s just a bruise,” we reassured her, “you’ll be fine in a few minutes. Carry on.”
It should be noted that the beginning of any and EVERY walk with Dahlia starts with “I’m tired” and “Can you carry me?”
So we weren’t having any of it and we pressed on. By the time we got to the first look-out, we saw a trail map on the side of a tree. We’d hiked 2 kms. and seemingly made pretty good time. We said to Dahlia, sit down and rest that foot while we pulled out the water and trail mix.
Bad mistake. The rest only made Dahlia’s ankle stiffen, swell and become…well…not so good. Here came that sinking feeling, as we realized the sore ankle act wasn’t just a ploy for a typical free ride.
We pulled out our trusty first aid kit, which luckily contained a small tensor bandage and some gauze wrapping. Who knew? It was the most comprehensive, tiny first aid kit I had ever come across and don’t even recall where I had found it. Thinking a ‘magic bandage’ would do the trick, we secured the ankle and continued along what seemed to be a perfectly manageable trail.
Deeper and deeper into the marshy woods. Too far now to turn back. We made it to kilometer 2.2 when we accepted the fact that Dahlia required the long sought-after piggy back. So I took the backpack and camera and Talbot hoisted Dahlia with her limp ankle, onto his back.
For the next four kilometers Talbot carried her up and down twisty trails, through marsh, over logs. His silence was enough to let us all know that this Fathers Day weekend wasn’t turning out as planned.
Huge sigh of relief as we rounded the last kilometer back into the park, a mere hour and half hike.
Unfortunately the electrics couldn’t get sorted and the forecast for the night was…COLD. So we made the difficult decision to ‘decamp’ and pack up for home.
Seeing as the power was completely drained, we had to use the manual winch to get the top down. It was our first time using the manual wench…and low and behold, it didn’t work. Round and round Talbot cranked it and with each turn the lid wouldn’t lower.
Tension…walk away….give space…keep quiet. That’s pretty much all I could do, as I saw Talbot slowly dismantling the van’s battery and knew his sanity must also slowly be dismantling.
Grease-covered, aching back and energy-drained, the lid finally fell and we hitched her up and dragged ourselves back to Halifax.
If you ask the kids how the weekend went, they’ll tell you it was awesome! Best camping ever.
I need a hot soak and a strong gin. But we both agree, thank god for test runs – not too far from home, before the warranty runs out!
Cheers to glamping and finding beautiful places to get lost.
(And as for Dahlia’s ankle…mild sprain maybe, but we think it’s more likely the bandage she’ll be wearing at school tomorrow is merely for show. A trophy well-earned.)
Weekend June 14-16: Blomidon Provincial Park, Site #10
We loved site #10 in Loop A and it’s also one of the Park Ranger faves. It’s private, partially shaded, flat and looks out over the spectacular Bay of Fundy. Another park ranger suggestion was site #54.
Some Glampy Nearby attractions: