I didn't know how much I needed our Hocking Hills adventure until I was there. Although many friends might disagree based on how much I talked about it- I was certainly looking forward to the plans we made! And I'm pleased to report- nothing disappointed. I'm also happy to say my desire for a camp fix was met thanks to our journey south to one of Ohio's treasures.
-The Hocking Hills region is so close- we need to go more often and will return with the kids for day hikes. We left Granville later than anticipated with loaded car- amazing how much we took for two people for two days....and no tent required.
Although we used a spread sheet to collect said supplies we didn't have an exact itinerary planned. We had options noted with addresses as we tried to go old school with maps and really put the phones away- I give us a B plus for this activity. Reality is that GPS came in handy down there. We had to stop and buy a map and it was not detailed enough. Advice- stop at the Welcome to the Hocking Hills Visitor center and get detailed maps. Service is spotty and it came in handy once we had the region's magazine with map.
We made the call to hike closer to our tipi site due to check-in timing. We found the sign for Whispering Cave- Joe did, I was looking for the Restaurant sign. The burned remains and stone foundation of the restaurant are interesting. The new hike takes you into beautiful woods and descends offering easy to traverse steps. We passed a ranger who shared Whispering Cave is special and make sure to take the spur there. She was correct- peaceful, cool with modest effort- our perfect picnic stop. Then we took the new trail further south to experience the new hickory bridge- again only seeing few people along the way. Fun to cross we had time to keep going and made the call to join the multitudes and head to Old Man's Cave. This turned into the most challenging part of the hike due to wear and tear and water- the uneven ground, exposed roots and rocks gave my ankle a workout. I'm pleased for the opportunity to develop those muscles and increase my flexibility. Total was 5 miles of activity in beautiful terrain.
The timing worked and we found our way to http://www.secludedsanctuaries.com thanks to GPS even with no Internet service, but I had the address and an Okay map that helped. We chose a Tipi- or I talked Joe into the tipi to get my platform tent fix. Last year when researching places to stay around Estes Park I stumbled on tipis and yurts and regretted not making that happen for us. Joe regrets not staying at the Stanley. (Note all worked out for us last year and we loved being in that amazing part of the country. In fact the whole Hocking Hills trip was inspired by the western hiking and fresh air. Another part of our story and orgin goes back to when we were dating and a special weekend without reservation that took us to walk-in camping at the park.
I will admit I was worried- the price was right for our tipi, but it looked like a great fall overnight spot- it had a stove inside? Were we headed to a sweat lodge if the weather was hot? Oh well, we could always return home if not satisfied.
Our tipi and camp site were simple and perfect. Joe and I loaded the cart and walked the short distance to our home away from home. It was warm and a bit muggy but once we unloaded and set up camp were able to relax. Being completely surrounded by nature, in an off the beaten path local, within a forest is a great way to unwind. The tipi was spacious and had a very comfortable air mattress. I brought my usual camp roll - egg crate foam, sheets and comforter. Three cheers for Joe added four pillows to complete our nest. The wood floor and mattress gave me my Camp Alleghany platform tent feel and I was satisfied. We also loved having fire pit with solid grate to execute the dinner plan. If needed we were prepared to scout a different dinner site. I'm so pleased stayed put. Joe builds a fabulous fire and soon dinner was cooking and cocktail hour enjoyed.
The canopy of trees made for a cool setting- literally and figuratively. The tipi's smoke flaps gave a beautiful view, to understand the beauty of our surroundings, you have to know the birds were wonderful company. As the sun set it was an orchestra of calls. Once it was dark there was a deep quiet that isn't easy to find in our world. It was easy to wake up at our usual time but we had the luxury to roll over to sleep-in. Day one of grown-up camp- success!
Once up on day two we high tailed it out anxious for running water and made way to a recommended diner for breakfast. Part of our adventure is getting a sense of the local experience and time in Laurelville didn't disappoint. Tuesday's dinner time activity South Bloomingville provided the same energy and input- sitting at the bar with locals proved quite interesting. We even were able to enjoy a dance and great music sitting outside at an extended 4th of July party. To round out the camp experience we had booked time in a canoe on the river. We opted for the longer journey so we could hike into see the Rock Bridge. We could of been better prepared to blend in with the locals by packing a cooler and enjoying sandbar time. Other's actions reminded me of the fun back in the day on the Niabra river in Nebraska! But our trip worked for us- the scenery and modest exercise- made for a great way to spend the afternoon. The dark cloud that lingered opened up as we unloaded so we could keep our towels dry. The rain was refreshing and provided a wonderful shower. Dancing in the rain has been part of many a date for Joe and me. It almost seemed planned and the timing was perfect. Bonus- we took a walk and found our dating time camp site! It was number 6- not 4 or 7 or 9......good to have the known. Another fire, another great night's sleep and time to linger in the woods wrapped up our hocking hills time. We didn't get to all the hikes we had planned, but happy to look forward to Rock House with the kids.
Life on Newark-Granville Road loves adventure, hiking, exploring and relaxing and camping in Hocking Hills. Joe and I are pleased we can get lost- leave our phones, skip a shower and just be together. It is what we give our kids when we send them to camp, we deserved it too!
Note- limited pictures due to cell phone put-a-way and to see the outside of the tipi- follow the link to Secluded Santuary!