Springtime in Shakamak
We return to Shakamak State Park for a spring camping weekend
In Mission: Wanderlust, I write and podcast about our family’s travel adventures and the things that we have learned along the way.
After living in two very different regions of the country, we clearly understand spring camping to mean two very different things. Now that we are back in the Midwest, spring camping once again means we are finally dusting off our camping equipment and getting back out into nature, regardless of the bipolar nature of an Indiana spring.
Last fall, when we asked our daughter how she wanted to celebrate her birthday, she announced that she wanted to return to Shakamak State Park in western Indiana. We had visited Shakamak at the end of last summer, taking advantage of the last available water days before everything shut down after Labor Day.
We loved every minute of our weekend stay, frequently asking each other why we had never considered visiting the state park before. But because that weekend had been dedicated to enjoying the last heat of summer and getting as much out of water sports as possible, my favorite camping activity, hiking, had to be pushed off to a later date.
I couldn’t agree more with our daughter: we needed to make a return trip to Shakamak.
It was the first 2023 reservation that we made and we couldn’t wait to finally go. Despite the fact that we had to drive two vehicles (our son wanted the two of us to participate in a mom and son nerf war night at his school), by late that Friday night we were all settled into the park in the exact same camping spot that we had parked in eight months before.
When we woke up the next morning, we enjoyed a camping breakfast and morning conversation with our neighbors. (Our daughter had invited one of her best friends from school and her family to join us.) The temperature barely reached the 50s, but the early morning sunshine made for a perfect three-mile run before I returned to our campsite for a snack and packing up for a family hike.
We finally went for a hike in the afternoon. Shakamak has seven hiking trails, but most of them are not round-trip trails, which means that the mile count for nearly all of them needs to be doubled to account for the return trip. We finally settled on Trail 2, which follows forests and valleys, takes hikers past an old abandoned mine which was integral to the area at the turn of the 20th century, and merges with Trail 1 on the approach back along the lakeshore. Despite the overcast skies and temperatures that barely brushed 50 degrees, the hike was both beautiful and a solid workout for everyone that went.
By the time we got back, it was time to light a roaring fire that we would keep going all night. With the temperatures dropping back down to the lower 40s once the sun set, the adults enjoyed an evening sitting by the fire, eating, drinking, and talking, while the kids probably spent too much time inside trying to stay warm. But I had a hard time complaining. In the last calm weekend for at least a month, I was enjoying a quiet night with other adults having good conversation and staring into the mesmerizing coals of our blazing hot fire.
As a weekend bonus for Sarah the writer, the state park has several free little libraries, and I went to town dropping off copies of my book in three different ones. I tried to not get too excited that at least one of the three disappeared while we were still camping, but I also know how important it is to just get my book into people’s hands, so I figure it’s absolutely worth the time and money spent on extra author copies.
Once again, we enjoyed a family weekend at a beautiful Indiana state park and it was a perfect start to our 2023 family camping plans. We may have needed to rush back for a flag football game, but it was worth the time that we spent away from home and together as a family. As an added bonus, it was nice to get to know our daughter’s friend and family better, something we believe is increasingly important as we fully enter the teen years.
I’m sure we’ll make it back to Shakamak again in another calendar year, but for now we are happy that we got to take advantage during a spring camping trip. We wouldn’t want it any other way.
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This sounds like a great place! I am adding it to my list.
Such a beautiful post, Sarah, and I love that you made such a fabulous addition to those three free little libraries! Wonderful that only two copies remained! 🙌