From our saddle expert Linda.
I believe camping in the fall is my most favorite time to camp. This fall was especially a great fall to camp here in Indiana. It's been dry but beautiful. Cool enough to chase the bugs away yet warm enough to wear just a sweatshirt in the afternoon. I enjoyed camping with a group of ladies. We were able to go about 5 times since the end of September which is good, for all of us and our busy schedules. We would go over the weekend and have so much fun that we would set it up to go again in 2 weeks.
The one weekend in October proved to be quite trying but in looking back it was truly a memory maker:
We were not going to be able to get to the campground until about 5ish so we knew we would be racing the clock to get set up and supper made before dark. We pulled up to the main gate and there was a line to just get into the park. No problem - it's the second weekend in October, the peak color time in IN so we weren't too shocked until we went up to the gate house to pay to get in and she told us that the horseman's campground was full!! Now if you have ever packed for horse camping you know what is all involved. There's alot of time and effort in remembering everything for you and your horses. I'm fortunate to have a living quarters in my trailer so I can store alot of things in there that can stay there for the season but you still have alot of last minute things to get around: your clothes for all kinds of weather, your food, all the horse stuff that you need - hay, feed, buckets, blankets, emergency kits, etc. So our hearts just sank at the thought of just turning around and heading back home. The gal was checking with the park ranger to see if the overflow sites would be available for us to stay on which was great but there was only two overflow sites and we needed three sites and they were not next to each other and when you camp together, normally you want to be close enough to share the campfire and suppers if you choose to do so. So we talked and thought we could make do. It was better than heading back home for the weekend. We prayed the horses would all get along at the hitching rail and the walking, we decided would do us good.
So we got the go ahead to head back to the horseman's campground, which by now we had people lined up behind us out on the highway waiting to get in. We got back to the gatehouse to the campground and the guy there told us we would have to go back to the main entrance to pay for the weekend stay!! He also told us that there were three sites right inside the campground right next to each other that was open. We said why not and pulled on to those sites. Now a little voice inside my head kept saying, "Don't unload everything until you know this is for real." I've had to pack up and move everything before because of a mess up and it's not fun. So we unloaded the horses and high tailed it back to the main gate. Good thing we didn't set up camp because we had to move. The sites were only open for Friday night and we needed sites for the whole weekend. We paid for our two sites that weren't next to each other and out in the middle of the campground, but we could stay for the weekend. Thankfully the horses got along fine with each other and our neighbors didn't mind us cutting through their sites to get to our friends site. We got everything set up - in the dark and horses feed and was making our chili over the fire at about 9 pm. What an evening!!
During the night we started to hear this pecking on the roof of our trailers. It was starting to rain. Oh, well, it should stop before we get rolling in the morning. It didn't stop until about noon but we did get to sleep in some, leisurely eat our breakfast and just plain relax which most of us needed anyway. Only one problem--when the rain stopped it started getting windy, and when you are out on the prairie, not much is stopping the wind. Didn't think too much about it. It wasn't a cold wind so let's ride!! We got back from a couple hour ride and was getting something to eat when my mom stated that she thought we might want to tie down the awning because some of those gusts of wind would really make it rattle good. No sooner did she get that out of her mouth then we heard this horrible crash and alot of light was shining in. The awning had blown up and over the horse trailer!! breaking one of the arms that attach it to the trailer. God bless good neighbors. One of our neighbors seen it go and came over to help us get it rolled back up and tied onto the trailer to at least get it back home to get fixed. You should have seen people scrambling to get their awnings tied down after ours went for a ride!! Glad we could help them out in sending out the warning at the expense of our awning. It was an older one anyway with a few problems but it still worked up until then.
Despite all the set backs, we had the best time. You'd wake up Sunday morning and there was a light fog settling over the whole campground as the sun was coming up. At night you would smell the campfires burning, the coolness setting in and maybe later on in the evening a raccoon would pay you a visit. It was just priceless to be there. The riding was magnificent. We would ride through the woods and watch the leaves falling and see how the landscape would change from each season and really each week. Totally awesome! Riding through the pines has got to be the best. The smell of the pines can never be bottled, it's so refreshing and clean that it sticks in you mind forever. My friend and I would take our geldings on one of the trails that was towards the back side of the park where there wasn't much traffic and just let the boys run through the woods. It was amazingly invigorating. I think they were having as much fun as we were. What a ride!! And that is why you go through all you do when you camp - it's for the ride!!!