This weekend’s travels took us to the Hillsborough River State Park (post coming soon on our Parks page!) so we could check out their primitive camp sites. This is one of the locations we plan on travelling to for an overnight expedition this fall when the weather cools down, so we thought it would be fitting to take a test-hike out to the primitive campsites before the real thing – just to make sure it was not too far for the kids to walk with their gear.
The hike started out great! We took a pit stop at the restroom so we wouldn’t have another mishap like our last hike(although this time we were prepared, just in case), and we were ready to go! The kids donned their backpacks, I slipped mine on, and out onto the trail we went. Everyone was excited to check out the trail – K and Rh even asked if we were going to spend the night here tonight! Unfortunately, it’s still too hot and the weather is too unpredictable for any overnight excursions with these little guys. We will be waiting at least until the end of hurricane season for those to start!
We parked our car across from the pool and walked towards the water. I used the AllTrails app to see where the trail head was once we arrived. In order to get to the trail, you have to cross the Hillsborough River and the normal crossing point was inaccessible (the bridge was damaged during hurricane Irma and has yet to be repaired) so we had to use the next bridge which was slightly farther up river. The bridge that we did end up crossing was a suspension bridge that wibble-wobbled as we made our way across it.
It’s a shame to admit that this hike actually falls at the bottom of our list (at least for this time of year). The hike itself would have been pleasant had it not been for the insane amount of mosquitoes that were buzzing around. Once we got on the Seminole Trail after the detour, the swarms got worse and worse until it felt like the air was made of mosquitoes – I’m surprised they didn’t end up carrying us away! I suppose we should have expected them to be there, since there is a lot of standing water among the cypress knees here. Even though the trail itself was easily accessible today, you could tell that it had recently been inundated with water and thus made the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Despite the constant buzzing around our ears, we trooped on an made it all the way to the primitive campsites! Along the way, we saw some pretty cool critters, even if we didn’t stop for long to marvel in their beauty. Most of them were of the invertebrate variety – locusts, worms, grasshoppers, and millipedes! There were also a lot of fungi to be seen along the trail – toadstools and mushrooms galore!
We also saw several baby toads, and even a young green tree frog when we stopped at the campsites! The poor little thing had a broken hind leg, but still managed to hop out of sight soon after we noticed him. We enjoyed a quick snack at the primitive campground (there are a few sites with fire rings and list of rules to follow when you do choose to camp here) before heading straight back the way we came. If it weren’t for the mosquito problem this time of year, it would have been a nice place to camp for a few nights. Maybe we will venture out here again when we are out of hurricane season.
We made our way back to civilization as fast as we could – leaving a trail of mosquitoes as we went (literally! You could actually see a cloud of mosquitoes behind each person as they walked). It took some encouragement to get the twins to move along on the second leg of the trip, but by distracting them and talking about things they enjoyed and the cool creatures we had seen on the trail earlier we got them moving along cheerfully again! The tree frog and a turtle we saw sitting on a tree by the river at the beginning of the day were big hits!
We made it back to the park area in high spirits, and when we crossed the suspension bridge we pretended that it was a Pirate Ship! As it swayed gently under our feet, the children called out commands to “raise the sail!” and “walk the plank, ye scurvy dogs!” We were just so glad to be back to a place where mosquitoes weren’t attacking us at every turn!
As ready to leave as the children had seemed just moments earlier, they were somehow inspired with a new wave of enthusiasm as we came off of the trail and a playground caught K’s eye. I called for her to come back so we could get to the truck, but for some odd reason she appeared to have gone temporarily deaf. M, Rh, and Ry followed her and my calls to continue towards the truck fell on deaf ears as the enticement of swings clearly outweighed their exhaustion. D and I laughed a little as we went to join M and K on the swings while Rh and Ry took turns on the slide. After the breeze of swinging had cooled us down and we were thoroughly exhausted, we made our way back to the truck while munching on our second snack.
Despite the clearly miserable fact that the mosquitoes tried to eat us alive, we all made it out in once piece and were able to go home, scrub off the dirt, and make some DIY mini-pizzas for dinner! Everyone loves putting their own toppings and tailoring their meals just for themselves – plus it’s super easy! Just throw together some English muffins, pizza sauce, cheese, and your toppings of choice, then toss them in the oven for about 15 minutes and boom! If you don’t want to do any dishes afterwards, just coat your pan(s) in aluminium foil and clean up is a breeze!
After a good meal and some time spent relaxing after the day’s excitement, the kids decided that they weren’t ready for the hiking/camping/backpacking to end! K asked if we could set up the tent in the backyard to go camping – we reluctantly had to tell her no because it was already dark out and the grass really needs to be cut before we pitch a tent out there. A few minutes later, though, I had an idea! I grabbed the tent and took it out of it’s sleeve – unrolling it onto the living room floor. K helped me put the poles in place while the boys watched excitedly as the tent rose up in the middle of our home. We found a good movie on Netflix, made some popcorn, and got their blankets, pillows, and sleeping pads into the tent for a camp-out! What a perfect way to end such a not-so-perfect day!