Primitive camping is a far cry from my usual fifth wheel comfort. What are you talking about, you ask? Why aren’t you working on your book? Since everything can be fodder for a writer’s grist mill, I have to share our latest adventure.
The Osceola National Forest is a quarter million acres of pine forest, swamp and undeveloped land in the Panhandle of Florida. It stretches to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. The forest is dotted with camping areas. Some like Ocean Pond, a lovely fishing
lake, offer electric and water hook-ups, the others are primitive camping.
So how did I end up at West Tower as a camp host? West Tower is primitive. There is no water on the sites, no electric and certainly no sewer. There is a single seat sanitary facility (outhouse) with a sink and exterior water faucet.
After finding the host site did have these amenities, my husband volunteered and I agreed, thinking the quiet would be good for my writing.
It takes about five miles of driving on graded dirt roads to reach West Tower. We’re fifteen miles from the nearest city limits. There are times when I wonder what would happen if we broke down. No cell phones work. That should have been a hint my air card wouldn’t work on my computer. Like most people, I take the modern conveniences for granted.
So what are the duties of a host in the real wilderness? Clean the toilet. Not hard since it’s not used much. Pick up the campsites, remove trash, and empty the fire pits. It’s a little more demanding, but not overwhelming since most people are neat campers. The camp host also clears the trails. West Tower is the trail head for more than fifty miles of equestrian trails, the blue trail, The Florida Trail and the gold trail go past. There are ATV trails marked for people who enjoy riding through the forest.
We’re not here during hunting season, but the place is packed with eager hunters and their dogs. The hunters seek everything legal in its season. There’s black powder and turkey hunting, deer, and even wild hogs. These are serious hunters who butcher and eat their prey. It gives you a different perspective than shopping in a grocery store.
I’ve found West tower to be a remarkably busy place. Forestry people stop to talk about their work. Hikers pass through regularly. Backpackers are frequent campers. Horseback riders use the trails and after parking their horse trailers stop to talk.
The nights are dark, the stars so clear you want to touch them. And something howls in the late hours that sounds like a wolf.
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