Hot October

Camping in the Pine Barrens came with its share of ups and downs.

I had to commute into Manhattan for a work meeting, so we didn’t get down to the campsite until about 4:30 PM. Denali and Knox were immediately comfortable on their tie-outs, since we had camped there this summer. Dexter was a bit antsy, but I still managed to set up my new (bigger) tent and cook dinner. The sun sets around 6 PM and we made it a pretty early night.

It was in the mid-40’s when we woke up on Saturday. I cooked up a quick breakfast (pork roll, eggs, and tea) and loaded the dogs for our first run. The campsite is about five minutes from the Mt. Misery trail, so it was nice to get an early start without the usual hour and a half drive.

The dogs did great – I know I say it a lot, but they’re really starting to round out as a team. Even Dexter has been keeping a better pace with the speedy huskies. I wanted to explore the surrounding trails a bit more, but it warmed up too fast. 

Most of Saturday was peaceful, until a family rolled up and took the campsite directly next to mine. That’s the one thing you can’t prepare for when you book online – families that just drive in without reservations.

The kids weren’t really bad, I just wanted to relax and not listen to their squeaky little voices. The family also had a small dog with them. It was perfectly well behaved, but of course my meatheads wanted to either wrestle it or eat it (can’t be too sure).

I eagerly awaited sundown so I could cook my dinner and have the darkness provide some seclusion. It was another early night, since I wasn’t sure if it would be cold enough to run the dogs the next morning.

I’m glad I decided to stay, despite family, because Sunday’s run was beautiful. I drove out before breakfast, since it was already nearly 50 degrees when I woke up. We were on the trail as the sun was rising, and it made for some beautiful light through the pines.

While it was warm at the campsite and at the trail head, the trail itself felt a few degrees cooler. I wasn’t going to push the dogs, and had planned to just do a mile and a half, but they were on fire. We took a few breaks for water, but they were revved up and ready to run each time.

We did the whole 3.8 mile trail again, and they ended strong. There’s a hill towards the very end of the run, and Denali must have seen an animal or something, because they took the hill full speed, when normally I have to pedal the rig along.

The dogs got a well-deserved breakfast of kibble, beef, and eggs while I cooked my own (awesome) campfire omelette. My neighbors were wide awake, so I decided to pack up and head home before my “check out” time.

All in all, I’m glad I went, but I’m looking forward to colder temperatures and (hopefully) fewer campers next time.

Jessica Kizmann

Dog musher, New Jersey.