No man is a failure who is enjoying life. –William Feather

For the past few weeks, I have intensified my search for winter camping opportunities. Living in a state that has limited public camping land most of my opportunities will need to be centered in those areas that are public and allow overnight camping. For the most part, these are COE, (corp of engineer) lands. These are the areas of nearly all reservoirs in Kansas. This along with state-provided public lands such as state lakes and smaller areas around those.

That does provide many places, but still very limited compared to large wilderness areas found in many western states. I have no plans in the near future of hitting road winter camping so my home base and surrounding opportunities will have to do. My hope is just for a couple of days with a night of sleeping under the winter stars so nothing major in the way of grand adventures is really needed anyway.

Over the years I have become very familiar with Perry Lake. This is an 11,000-acre lake with 160 miles of shoreline. One would think this would be plenty. Truthfully it is. I just get a little picky on locations and things like photo opportunities when it comes to where I camp. Go figure!

There is a somewhat double-edged sword so to speak with many of the Kansas lakes and reservoirs. That being, over the past 10 years or so many primitive campgrounds have been closed. The road that used to go back into these spots now gated shut. My suspicion is due to the never-ending budget limitations these public places now are forced to deal with. Fewer people to take care of things like campgrounds eventually leads to few campgrounds. 

I can understand this. For some time this really bothered me. Being a person who places great value on outdoor opportunities I simply do not agree with limiting such things when it is my opinion we need more of these things. I still feel that way, but I have come to realize unexpected opportunities. That being, if one is willing to hike back to these now closed and abandoned campgrounds you will have them all to yourself 99% of the time.

These closed campgrounds are not off-limits they simply are no longer maintained. They have been allowed to become overgrown with plants, scattered with fallen branches, no trash containers, and some, that once had maintained pit toilets are now just left to slowly decay away.

Over the past few years, I have hiked to every one of these closed primitive campgrounds. Some no more than a quarter-mile from a parking area while others may be close to a mile hike to get back to. The roadways, that were once paved now broken up with weeds and rocks scattered up and down them. A few good floods over these old roads and no attempts to repair them have left them to now be foot traffic only.

Once I realized some of these places were actually in good areas I have taken numerous hikes to them just for the hiking time and photography opportunities. I now look at them, not as wasted public use areas, but more like my very own seldom-used camping and photography areas. 

I will always believe there should be more natural areas for the general public to enjoy, but when I can find public areas that the public can go to but don’t because you can longer just drive to them and you now have to put in some hiking time I seem to think that is a good thing. Good as long as I am still able to do some hiking!

If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. –Marcus Aurelius

As I get on in age I seem to have an opposite mindset compared to others of my age. I have no plans of intentionally making things easier for myself. My pace undoubtedly has slowed and will continue to slow. But that does not mean doing less. It just may take a little longer to do things. A little more attention paid to detail and less to the “just do it” type of thinking. I seem pretty good with that approach. Instead of a “roughing it” experience, it might be more of a “how do I need to do this” experience. 

Maybe it just semantics, but as they say, with age comes wisdom. Along with a few aches and pains. 

I believe it is important to continue to go beyond one’s comfort level. It seems to be the only real way of growing as a person. A life of comfort both physically and psychologically may be fine for some. But how does one know what comfort is without first experiencing discomfort? This does not mean intentionally making oneself uncomfortable, but more along the line of, if you want to do something, don’t let fear stop you.

Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. –William Shakespeare

 

 

Road Not Taken PRWI 3769

Road Not Taken – One of the many closed roads around Perry Lake, Kansas.