I wanted to make reservations at NEW (well, new to me) parks this year to see if I could add to my "Favorites" list... Millersylvania, Seaquest, Lake Wenatchee, Fort Flagler. It seemed as if EVERYONE wanted to go camping over Memorial Day Weekend - even in February, it was hard to find a spot! Finally a site opened up at Belfair State Park, on the smaller side is probably why - and I GRABBED it!
Pictured: The welcoming wooden bear at the entrance to "The Tree Loop" - arguably the best tent sites in the place
You can take a ferry over from multiple places in the greater Seattle area... Edmonds Kingston ferry and drove down the peninsula from up north. You can also drive around the south and cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to get here. And you can retrace your steps home, or take a different path and see new things. It was a warm day when I arrived at Site ___ at Belfair State Park. I was very happy with my split-wood fenced site; it had nice greenery around, proximate to water at the next site, a bit of a hike to the restrooms but doable.
Pictured: Site #146 - it's small but mighty in terms of delightful; though close to neighbors, you can easily conjure up your solo camp bubble with the nice amount of greenery around.
Often I start with lunch at the picnic table before set-up, but this time I ate on the road. So I jumped right in with setting up - two camp chairs (both for safety, as they give the impression that I am not alone; and practically, one to prop my feet upon) small low table, tablecloths and kitchen bin and ice chest, food, on the table, and tent footprint and tent, indoor outdoor rugs, then add the filling into the tent of bedding, night kit, etc.
The first thing that became apparent as I set up is the ONLY bummer at this park; the tent pad is gravel. I'm not sure who thought this was a good idea, or why~ perhaps for good drainage, etc? It is spikey, and it is HARD - on tent stakes, on tent bottom and footprint, on knees. I had to replace my usual tent stakes with hefty steel ones, and sacrifice one of my nice thick blankets from keeping me warm at night to being floorcovering, staving off ouch-ouch-ouching whenever I crawl around in the tent.
Pictured: My little nest for the weekend
Pictured: Me, in my happy place
As I unpacked my kitchen kit, which I had re-arranged at the end of my last trip, my heart sank. I checked the back of my car, which is always packed to the gills... it HAD to be there. But, it wasn't. My Two Burner Stove had not made the trip with me.
For about an hour, I decided, hey, this is one of those hardships that you have to be resilient about when solo camping. I can do this. I can cook over the campfire. UNTIL... I realized that I would not have morning coffee until the fire had been set, and burned down sufficiently to be coals appropriate to cook over. Fire-building happens AS the coffee water is boiling... it cannot be otherwise, for me. SO I admit it - hopped in my car, drove the 12 minutes back to town to the hardware store, and found a simple inexpensive single-burner stove. It was still going to be a stretch, with one burner where I have always had two~ but at least I'd be caffeinated right off the bat in the morning.
Pictured: My "emergency" 1-burner stove, acquired
Camp set up, I set out to explore. There are several paths to the beach, one just to the south at the end of the Tree Loop, which was WAY out with the tide. It's lots of rocks and simple shells, and the path to it with beach roses which smelled amazing as I passed.
Pictured - a beach-ward path
Pictured above: A stroll to the nearby beach results in wonderful vistas
Lots of quiet time to contemplate, breathe deeply of the sea air, lean against a warm log and let my shoulders drop.
Back at camp, it was time to take this single-burner for a spin. Since the sole burner was devoted to frying up a burger, the sweet corn needed to boil over the fire. So working backwards, I made an earlier fire than usual, and put the corn pan off to the side as the flames were still more "atmosphere" than "cooking." I got the pan a bit blackened - it is not cast iron, which would be ideal for campfire cooking - but both the pan and the corn survived, and a tasty camp dinner materialized.
Pictured: Classic camp fare tastes as good as it looks! I love how I eat when I camp :)
After dinner, you know what I love to do - read by the fire as the late afternoon turns to dusk turns to nighttime, breaking out a head lantern if I'm in a really good chapter. (Of course I read when I got to bed too, so it's not SUCH a sacrifice to get ready to turn in.) I love a good "schoolboy" cookie - cookie with thick layer of molded chocolate - and these dark chocolate ones made a killer S'more.
Pictured: My preferred blanket-pile sleep set-up, in use.
The night was a bit cooler than the day had forecast, but I was cozy in my woobie-blanket nest, which I prefer to a constricting sleeping bag. It's a foam pad (Khaki floral) topped with a fluffy mattress topper (white), topped with 3 thick sherpa blankets (various) this time one relegated to the floor; and a lightweight fleece blanket or two, which I also use outside as lap blankets around the campfire, or on the hammock. I've tried an air mattress, but I didn't find it more comfortable, and the possibility of air loss as the temp cools overnight and hassle of inflating and deflating also makes me prefer the "bedding pile" method.
In the morning I was awakened by my neighbor chopping his firewood at about 6:30 am for his morning fire. Yes, I am whining. I am all for a morning fire - but although one tries to create a bubble, sound carries easily beyond the boundaries of one's campsite, something campers seems to typically forget in late-night revelry or shouting to one another, etc. I mean, even a loud belch makes it to the sites around you. Of course, I recognize that *I* am seeking more quiet and peace than your average camping couple or group, so that's on me; I just need to adjust expectation. But chopping, in my mind, should happen during the midday or early evening, planning ahead for one's early morning fire. This may be a trait unique to Belfair State Park~ I heard it happening all over camp from about 6:30 am to 9:30 am and I've never encountered it anywhere else, not even once? I had to really try hard to tune that out. Which really means, it woke me up, which means I had to get dressed and make the trek to the restroom, which means that now, I was up. SO, time to (quietly :) ) set and light my fire and get the coffee on.
Pictured: There are some very tall trees in The Tree Loop, hence the name. This one is between my site and the restroom, had to stop and admire.
After I made MY fire, got the coffee water on my single burner, I settled in for some fire time. While the fire was fairly low, I popped some bagels on the grate for my indulgent camp "pre-breakfast" ~ a toasted snack to have with my second cup of coffee.
Pictured - morning fire going, the coffee water is on, grounds in the Bru french-press ready.
My camping mornings tend to be leisurely, if I am only doing a weekend... I like to draw them out. If I am out 3 days, the center day will likely be an up-and-out-early one, to fish, meanderhike, day trip, etc. But this was just a 2-nighter. So after pre-breakfast and a second cup, I worked on actual breakfast... this morning, some protein pancake-mix pancakes with fresh blueberries were on the menu. With only one burner, I had to cook in stages - bacon cooked and then wrapped up in foil while I worked on pancakes. I love camp breakfasts; they are more than I typically eat at home on weekend, but-
I know I'll be active in the afternoon so extra carbs here and there don't seem like a problem. Fuel for the activity - and keeps me (perhaps) from hitting the hammock early.
Pictured: Breakfast, the Main Event
After breakfast, it was time to explore - the river that bisects the campgrounds, and the beaches it leads to. Such a lovely little wander! I loved sitting next to the little stream and closing my eyes and just listening, feeling the sun warming me and the deep tranquility that I often experience (and crave) when I am on a day hike solocamping.
Back at camp, I met two of the volunteers that keep this camp so beautifully clean and ready for new campers. Shirley and Larry were ON it, taking care of the sites that were turning over, raking and taking up ashes, and making sure that every camper's first impression upon arrival is positive and inviting. They hit several campgrounds a season.
Pictured: Larry and Shirley, who travel from camp to camp, volunteering for their summer.
I still had Impossible Beef left to use from the burger dinner, so I made a childhood favorite, a Patty Melt, for lunch. Then it seemed like a bit of hammock time was calling me. It led to a sun-dappled nap, I'm not gonna lie. Wonderful!
Pictured: A hammock, a book, a snack... a nap.
In the late afternoon, I did another beach walk and found some lovely flora along the trails. Beautiful serenity during my wander, which is one of the elements that for me, makes a weekend of solo camping feel like a week away.
For dinner, Since I'd had a late lunch, the sun was definitely low before I started up the burner for some Camp Stroganoff over rice (Success Rice, easy-peasy in a boil-in bag; sauteed mushrooms, and the last of the browned Impossible Beef... it could have just as easily gone spaghetti, but I had sour cream and a hankering.)
By the time I was done, it was headlamp time on the path to the restrooms and getting squared away for the night. Nippy and cool, but my blanket nest warmed up with body heat and felt cozy.
The next morning, it was awake-to-the-firewood-chopping :-/ coffee and some campfire time, and a quick low-effort, low dishes breakfast of ZOOM hot cereal with raisins. I typically keep breakfast on leaving day simple, so I don't feel pressed for time.
One last quick walk to say "goodbye" to the sound.
On the way home, I swung by a little cabin on a pond that was for sale - just to rule it out. But that story and how it ended is for another entry. :)
I will definitely come back to Belfair State Park. Did it make the Favorites list as a new entry? YOU BET! It has rocketed to a top spot. I hope you'll try it!
"Dreams and beasts are two keys by which we are to find out the secrets of our own nature." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson