Occasionally there are risks worth taking. In early December we took a chance on some late-season camping in central Indiana. The forecast predicted light snow, but we didn't let that scare us off.
We arrived at Brown County State Park at dusk on a Friday night. The park is vast, boasting nearly 20 miles of road through uninterrupted forest, with multiple campgrounds located throughout. In late fall, only Buffalo Ridge was open for off-season camping, and as no one else was similarly brave, we had our choice of 100 electric sites. We ate supper, reviewed the trail map for hiking possibilities, and tucked into bed.
The next morning we woke to four inches of snow on the ground. Wild turkeys were foraging at the margin of our campsite, leaving V-shaped tracks in their wake. Our dog, a Siberian Husky, leapt out the door, bounding and rolling in the fresh snow with grand delight.
We had a fleeting concern that we could be snowbound for a few days, miles away from the main road, but we decided not to let that spoil the day. The furnace was running, the water lines were clear, and all systems were go. We threw some veggies and meat into a crockpot, pulled on boots and parkas, and off we went.
A completely empty state park, far back in the wilderness, could seem a little spooky. But the sun was bright, the snow was fluffy, and it was a glorious day. We wandered around for hours, the dog happily trotting along side. We spotted tracks of woodland animals, explored the layout of each campground, and stumbled into the warm and cozy Nature Center, which was unexpectedly open for visitors.
Ambitious and dedicated park staff had been busy plowing the roads, and by the time we returned to our campsite a fresh path had been cleared for our exit. We sat down to a lovely supper of hearty stew, courtesy of the crock-pot, and vowed to return to Brown County in the summer.
The only glitch of our Winter Camp was upon leaving the next day. The dump station was iced over, but a couple of quick chops with our handy ax took care of that. Then we discovered that the outlet for our dump pipe had frozen solid. That’s the only part of our water lines that aren't insulated. Not a big deal. We’d just have to empty the tanks later on, when the pipe thawed.
We’re so glad we took the risk of winter camping. Having Brown County State Park all to ourselves on a snowy weekend was certainly a thrill. Go ahead, take a chance. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And do visit this wonderful park, even if you have to share it!
Website: Brown County State Park
April 22, 2013