Guest Blog: Exploring Woodford State Park, Part 1
By 2016 Guest Blogger Matt Parsons
This camping trip was full of surprises right from the start. This Spring our calendar was filled with birthdays, graduations and weddings. There was only a short window of opportunity before our calendar would be filled again. In our world that is NOT a surprise. Looking ahead we decided to seize the moment and combine a camping trip with a visit to my brother and sister in-law who live in Massachusetts. It was a pleasant surprise to see the “skies” in our calendar part and make room for our plans. Camping in a lean-to in another state was not our first desire but it was the most logical, To our surprise we could not find a Massachusetts State Park with lean-to’s. Throwing logic out the window we opted for our first desire; a Vermont State Park.
We always love to explore new parks and the southern part of Vermont has plenty to choose from. We had recently helped our son buy a car from a good friend in Woodford. The park was not open at the time and we only had time to locate it, but a fresh seed was planted. Woodford State Park is only a two and a half hour drive to the in-laws. An early tear down of camp would get us to the “party” on time. It was decided and all I needed to do was call the reservation line to book our plans. The helpful young lady on the phone told me there were only 2 lean-to sites left and that Apple looked to be a bit more secluded than the other. Perfect!
Our plans were for 3 nights and to shove off early Sunday morning. Time allowed me to pack the night before which was a surprise. Food would be packed Thursday morning. Our three and a half hour journey would take us down the scenic Western corridor of Vermont. The forecast looked pretty good, with the exception of Friday. Heavy thunderstorms were in the forecast. We were already glad that we opted not to camp with our newly purchased tent.
The ride with my “sweetie” was pleasant as usual. Our arrival was equally as pleasant as we introduced ourselves to Park staff. Excited to be there we went directly to the day beach for some pictures and to explore. The park seemed to be filled with people setting up camp so we had the beach and picnic area all to ourselves. A short stop determined that we were definitely coming back to enjoy this area again. We drove through the camp grounds like we were driving through our town looking at Christmas lights. We like to see how others set up camp and what they are using for gear and to scope out future sights.
Our site was as promised and we commenced to set up camp. Setting up a cheap canopy over the picnic table was new for us. A slight challenge to set up for the first time but well worth the effort. Eager to explore, we quickly set up camp and got our traditional trunk load of fire wood. We cooked over the open fire and relaxed before checking out Adams Reservoir from section C and the campers beach.
Ann armed herself with a book she got from our local library where our son is the librarian. With my camera gear conveniently in it’s backpack, I threw it on my back and headed for some shots. The campers beach invited Ann to sit a spell. The bench is strategically placed where one can relax and take in the view. Ideas of an early morning coffee were already brewing in our heads.
I went off to play while Ann took up the invitation to sit and read. A nice little peninsula and a soon to be sunset were my calling. The water was calm. An occasional fish jumping after bait broke the mirror like image. Ideas of fishing were popping into my head. Ann joined me as I settled in to capture the sun setting over the forest. We savoured the moment as the sun sank out of sight.
On our way out a teenage couple with a point and shoot camera hustled in to take our place with nature. I smiled and thought that could have been us 30-35 years ago. We headed to camp and settled in for a night by the fire. The wood was slightly green but we were able to make it work. Friday’s weather had changed only slightly. The storm was still approaching but not until afternoon. Perfect! With that, we went to bed with a firm resolve to get up early and head to the beach with our coffee.
I woke up first and got the coffee perking and the wood fire hot. It was a glorious Friday morning and all of Creation was announcing it’s arrival. We joined in it’s praises and headed for our bench by the water. Sun beams streaked through the trees and fanned themselves towards the bench. The mist was rising from the water to greet it. It was as if Creation was shining a light on our bench and saying “Have a seat kids”. So we did.
We enjoyed our coffee, took some pictures and made plans to kayak the reservoir. Leaving that area was difficult. Enticed by the desire for more coffee and knowing that we were coming back, we slowly packed up and headed up the hill. Coming down the hill was a couple that looked to be roughly our age. There was an excitement about them that we could not avoid. We had a great conversation with Doug and Leslie and found that we had a lot in common. It turns out that they have camped many of the same parks as us. The way they explore future parks on their way home is very similar to ours. Even though they are from Massachusetts, Doug and Leslie are very familiar with our neck of the woods in Northern Vermont and visit regularly.
Our traditional breakfast was down the hatch and we were transitioning to our kayaks. We brought the car down and offloaded them near the beach. Our kayak carrier would have been perfect for transporting from camp to beach, but it was back at home. Oh well, next time. Ann was excited to try her anchor that we bought days before. The sky was increasingly overcast but the water was as calm as a day off in July. I was looking forward to trying my hand at fishing even though I didn’t take the time to get live bait.
Adams Reservoir is 23 acres and a maximum of 15 feet deep so exploring it was going to be short. With a distant threat of rain we began paddling North from the South-East end and going counter clockwise. We like to check out camp sites from the water and to see how people are enjoying life. We passed a few anglers along the camp side of the pond. The day beach was coming to life as families were making their way to check out the still waters. By the time we got to the West side of the pond a gentle breeze was forming and a patch of sky opened up to blue. We found a little cove where Ann could cast her anchor and read for a spell. This would be a good time for me to throw out my line. The combination of gravel bottom, occasional rocks and weeds made me think I could get lucky catching a trout or two.
Ann looked pretty comfy with her feet up and a book in her hand. I wish I had taken a picture of her and her “couch on water”. I was a short ways away pretending to be an angler. All I was catching with my poorly equipped tackle box was a tan. Clouds came in fast and they were a little darker. Ann decided to pull up stakes and slowly make her way back. We did not anticipate having a problem pulling up the anchor. I detected an “excitement” in Ann’s voice. When I turned to look, I could see she was having troubles getting the 5lb anchor off the bottom. I came to assist. We were both keenly aware of the possibility of flipping over if we did not think this thing through. Eventually I was to able paddle up to the rope and keep Ann at a distance. I was able to pull up the anchor and a small tree log with it. Pulling any more was going to “upset the apple cart“. While I sat there with this mess suspended in the water I heard Ann quietly ask for help. Instantly I gave the rope a quick tug upward and let the rope drop a ways. The log rolled off the anchor and we were set free. I’m sure that Someone beside me heard that quiet plea.
Relieved, we finished exploring the pond. Ann headed to the bench to read while I stayed out to take more picture. From the water I could see where a trail followed the pond. I was intrigued. Saturday’s weather was looking pretty good and I was sure I could convince my bride to go for a walk in the woods. : ) Ann was at her bench reading while the birds chirped out a song. I landed my kayak next to hers and hinted that I was hungry.
We had plenty of leftovers and so we decided to cook a smorgasbord over the “microwave”. ( once I plugged it in with wood ). A visitor from Pennsylvania came and visited us while we were preparing for lunch. We had a good time talking with the ole boy. After lunch I ran into Doug and Leslie near our site. We happily exchanged more camping stories. Ann showed up some time later, adding to the conversation but delaying my time to use the rest room. Leslie gave us a helpful update on the weather which had become a tornado warning. After they left, and I had made my mandatory pit stop, we decided to secure the camp. We rolled the dice and kept the canopy up. Bungi cords are our best friends and we secured every corner to a tree or lean to. It was a masterpiece that would make any Boyscout cringe but a red-neck gleam with gladness. I was gleaming!
The true test did not come until night fall. In the meantime we sat by the fire and puttered around camp. Having a lean to gave us a sense of security and we were actually looking forward to the storm. When it hit, we moved our chairs away from the fire and into the shelter. A new light that fit nicely in the ceiling provided enough light to read by. We would look up between paragraphs and scoff at the deluge of rain forming at our feet. Occasionally I would have to jump under the canopy and relieve it of trapped water. The camp fire defied nature twice. In a similar rebellion, the coals shook off the downpour of rain and came to life in between showers. I have never seen anything like that before. It was a peaceful night of rest as the sound of rain fell outside our shelter.
By morning the skies had cleared and the song birds seemed to be promising us another great day. Morning meditations, breakfast and a nice shower were the first order of the day. In camp area C there is a new modern bathroom facility that has a similar “footprint” as the old one. This one however has 4 roomy showers. We never had to wait to take a shower. : )
Feeling refreshed we set out to explore the 2.7 mile Woodford trail. We encountered several families enjoying the trail. As we walked and talked I was able to capture some nature shots and people enjoying the water. The trail goes right to the day beach. Business was picking up by the time we got there and I was able to get some more shots. We visited with the nature interpretor who was roaming the grounds educating guests about squirrels, (we had a red Squirrel at our site and we named him Chubby.) The beach was the perfect place for a snack before finishing the trail. We found the trail to be an easy and scenic walk.
Eating and relaxation were on the menu for the rest of the day. At some point in the afternoon we decided to visit our friends at Townshend State Park which is an hour drive from camp. Every Saturday night is music night and people come from far and wide to camp and play their musical instruments. (See my blog entries on Townshend State Park.) Feeling content with my work for the Parks, we thought it would be cool to relax with friends. What happened next is something nobody could have predicted or scripted.