Overnight was freezing cold but with ample sleeping bags and blankets we slept warm and cozy in our old camper (except for those times when we begrudgingly had to venture outside to pee).
By 8 the next morning I looked over at Kory (who had spent the night on the other unfolded bed), and smiled when I realized that she was staring at me and had been quietly and patiently waiting for her people to rouse.
Climbing out of my warm bed I quickly got dressed, trying to move quietly and keep my pup quiet, as LC continued to sleep.
As Kory and I stepped out of the camper I looked around me. It was still cool but was warming up quickly, and I knew that the forecast that I had studied before leaving Atomic City was going to hold.
It was going to be one more very lovely day.
Together wide awake puppy and still half-asleep woman wandered down to the fishing pier, and I looked out over the water.
In this early morning daylight even the stagnant water of the cove looked beautiful...............
Wandering around the camp ground with Kory I looked back as I heard the camper door open, and I smiled at my Mountain Boy.
First order of business was coffee, and a quick breakfast was not far behind.
We were both eager to head down to the lake.
LC wanted to fish and I wanted to kayak.
And we both wanted to take a closer look at the tens of thousands of ducks that had unexpectedly invaded Mud Lake...................
Views of the lake from the high ground where we parked the truck, and before heading down to the beach...............
As LC settled in with pole, worms, tackle box and folding chair, I wandered the beach with Kory.
I had walked with her frequently since we arrived, but I could tell that she was restless.
My dog had been off leash for many months now while out on BLM land. Had been increasingly off leash at the house both inside and outside the fence surrounding the property.
She had gotten used to being off leash more than on, but that had not been the case since we arrived at this place.
We had heard many many coyotes the evening before. After dark we had heard a wolf howling. Predators (both known and unknown) lived in this park, and she had no idea where she was, and so our energetic and athletic dog had been confined to the bondage of the leash.
As I walked the beach with her I saw Kory doing something that I had not seen in a long time.
She was so desperate to run that she would run as fast as she could to the end of her leash and pull back to stop herself. A moment later she did the same thing - run and stop - and then again - run and stop.
I silently commiserated with my dog. I wanted to let her go, but I couldn't.
Not now. Not yet. Maybe at some point in the future when we were totally comfortable that she would not take off in this unknown place.
But not now.
And so I walked with my beautiful girl, trying to give her the exercise and opportunity to explore that she needed, but knowing all along that my girl just needed to run...................
Looking back at LC, who by this time had found himself a comfortable spot..................
Endless piles of driftwood laying at the edge of the beach leading up to the road.
All of this shore line was underwater only a few months ago................
By the time Kory and I returned to LC I knew that he was not going to have any luck fishing on this trip.
The cove by the camp ground was filled with stagnant and now oxygen-deprived water.
Before stopping at the beach we had explored one more cove and found the same thing.
And along the shore of the main lake I had watched as LC cast his line out a couple of times.
The lake was shallow.
Happy to just be outside and close to the water, LC seemed unperturbed by his lack of fishing success, but I felt badly for him anyway.
As I set out to kayak on the water LC smiled at me, told me to be careful, and then told me that if he wasn't here when I got back, that he and Kory would be back at the camp ground.
Smiling back at him I told him that I would see him later, and then while sitting in the cockpit of the kayak inched my way forward until the boat finally broke free from the sandy bottom and began to float.
I had elected not to wear my kayak skirt, so was prepared to get wet and maybe even a little cold depending on the temperature of the water.
Regardless, it was all good.
I wished the water had been deeper for LC's benefit.
I easily began paddling, heading for both the ducks in the center of the lake and the land that was on the opposite side of the lake....................
Yes..........I admit my guilt.
I deliberately paddled right through the middle of the ducks just to see them take off into the air.
Time and again as I straight-lined towards the far shore I scared the ducks into the air, watched as they traveled 50 feet or so, and then watched as they easily glided back down into the water.................
About 20 minutes after I paddled away from my guy and my dog I made it to land on the opposite side of the lake.
As I slowly paddled close to shore I looked for a place to pull off the water - I had to pee again, and it finally occurred to me that I must be REALLY well hydrated during this camping trip, because searching for a place to pee seemed to be the running theme of my trip so far.
Surprisingly I found that there was little beach but plenty of bull rushes and rocks.
Paddling parallel to the shore I traveled around first one point and then another and then another, still looking for a suitable place to pull off.
A few minutes later I saw a large rocky area and paddled towards it, intending to stop there for a few minutes.
Close to shore I was startled by an unexpected noise on land. I looked up and saw movement, but the grass was too tall and I could not see the source of the movement.
Shaking grass and unexpected noise was good enough for me.
I did not need to see what caused it all.
I paddled away from shore intent on seeking out another place to stop for a few minutes, and quickly found a small sandy beach partially hidden among dense vegetation.............
Climbing out of my small recreational kayak, I stood on terra firma and looked around me.
Outstandingly beautiful mountains, trees, ducks, blue sky and blue water in one direction.
Very dense vegetation in the other.
As I looked through the trees and bushes that were on land I suddenly heard noise again.
When I looked up I immediately saw the source of the noise.
Quite possibly, it was also the source of the noise I had heard close to the rocky outcropping (that had been my first choice of a pull off).
A giant buck.
I saw just his head and his large rack before he disappeared into the trees.
For a second I thought about following him and then thought better of it.
I had no idea what was out there, and in this unfamiliar part of the park did not want to wander too far.
Instead I slowly wandered along the small, sandy beach.
The views from here were...........wonderful.
The beach itself was filled with deer tracks, but THESE tracks gave me pause.
They looked very similar to the deer tracks that were so abundant in the area, but these were much bigger, and embedded much deeper into the sand.
A bigger and heavier animal than simply deer.
I didn't know for certain, but that was my guess at the time................
About an hour after we got home from our camping trip I took two cards out of two digital cameras and began to download pictures onto my computer.
I only had five pictures on one camera. I had used it only once during the trip.
It was early in the evening and I was trying to take pictures of something. It was only a few minutes away from complete darkness and one camera could not handle the lack of light, and so I quickly reached for the second camera.
It was those five useless pictures that were on one card.
After downloading them onto my computer (and deleting four of the five pictures) I stuck the card back into my camera and deleted everything.
Was I sure that I wanted to delete all pictures? My camera asked me, and I confidently (as I had done hundreds of times over the past few years) pressed YES.
As soon as I said yes I realized what I had done.
I had just deleted the wrong card.
I had just deleted almost five hundred pictures that I had taken during our fall Mud Lake camping trip.
In desperation I looked online to see if deleted pictures could be retrieved.
With great relief I found out that they could.
TRY OUR SITE FOR FREE each website loudly exclaimed.
And of course none of them were free.
No way. No how. Was I putting my name, address and credit card number into a computer.
The next day we called our Blackfoot computer geek and he assured me that he could retrieve my deleted pictures.
By early afternoon that same day we took my camera, picture card and downloader-thing into the store. An hour and $35 later I had my pictures.
At any other time I might have just sucked it up and dealt with the loss of my pictures, but after climbing back into my kayak and beginning my trip back across the lake I came across something that I may never come across again.
I really wanted those pictures...................