Monday, May 18, 2015

What Should I bring To Family Day?

This month's Family Day is a bit easier kind of camping than we usually do. Normally we hike into a spot and camp, which requires a good deal of specialized equipment, but this time you're going to be camping a few feet from your car, so you'll be a bit more comfortable and have easy access to things that don't fit well into a back pack.

The first thing you need to know about the campsite is that it is "primitive", and by that we mean no plumbing or electricity. One couple who are participating in this years event has a chemical toilet and are providing it for everybody to use, but you should bring your own toilet paper.  Put it in a zip-lock bag to keep it from getting wet from rain or dew.

A folding chair is a good thing to have, as well as a folding table, or a small non-folding table.  There are no picnic tables at Neiderhoffer. You're just looking for something to put your plate on besides your lap. The chair should be light enough for you to comfortably drag it around the camp.  There's going to be a lot of visiting with other folks. The sun moves, and that means the shade does too, and there's going to be times when you're going to want to move out of smoke coming from the campfire.

One of the most useful camping items to own is a bandanna. Keep it in your pocket or tie it around your neck. They have too many uses to list here.

A small battery operated fan is a good idea, and so is a flashlight.  Bring extra batteries for everything that requires them. Walmart sells some very inexpensive fans designed to be hung inside a tent, and this is where you should use it the most. Any flashlight will do, but a headlamp is one of the more useful forms of light at night as it allows you to use both hands.

A big floppy hat is a very good idea.  It will keep the sun off of you and will deflect ticks. You should bring some DEET based insect repellent, but use it only on your skin as it has an ingredient that is harmful to synthetic fabrics. Sunscreen is a good idea as well.

A pair of flip-flops or Crocs is a good idea for walking around camp, and into the water.  There's no "beach" at the lake, so if you go in you should have protection on your feet.

Bring all medicines your are currently taking, as well as some aspirin and a small first aid kit.  You don't need to be able to do surgery, just some antiseptic wipes, band-aids and gauze pads. Inform on of the Leaders of any medical conditions of which the should be aware, and keep a card with the phone numbers and e mail addresses of people who should be contacted in an emergency in your wallet or pocket at all times

Water.  Bring lots.  My personal rule is that if I bring water home I've brought enough water. I generally bring a case or two of the 16 oz water bottles AND  a gallon jug or two.  A cooler to keep it and other food items in is a good idea. Ice cubes in the cooler is not the best way to keep things cold as that generally means the stuff in your cooler gets waterlogged as it melts. (you have no idea what can get ruined after being waterlogged). One or two of those blue ice things is good, and along with those I freeze about half my water and put the frozen bottles in the cooler. These do the same thing as ice cubes do and provide you with a good source of really cold water for a couple of days. At the beginning of the day, I'll toss a couple of unfrozen water bottles into the cooler and drink them. Try to avoid sugary drinks, and alcoholic beverages is actually a bad idea in the heat.

You'll need to bring food enough for the following meals:  Breakfast, lunch, and snacks for every morning you're going to wake up out there except Sunday (we'll be leaving before lunch on Sunday). To keep things simple, these should be "ready to eat" meals that don't require cooking (its going to be hot outside).  I usually bring Pop Tarts for breakfast.  For lunch I bring tortillas and have peanut butter and jelly tacos. Healthy snacks are great, Go Go Squeeze or other similar fruit is fast and easy, and I really love getting some of those Mandarin Orange fruit cups to put in the cooler first thing in the morning for a quick, cold snack. Dried fruit like raisins, apricots, etc. are also great. I find it convenient to "graze" on snacks all day long. Friday night and Saturday night are going to be Pot Luck Fellowship dinners, so bring something to contribute to that effort.

Its a good idea to bring food that doesn't need to be kept cold, and stay right away from anything with mayonnaise in it. All your food should be in some kind of seal-able box or bag, and to hang it from a tree to keep it away from ants and mice. If you have an extra cooler, these make fairly good places to put food for that purpose that don't need to be hung from a tree to get the job done.  I use one of those big buckets that kitty litter comes in.

If you're going on the hike, make sure your shoes are up to the task. There are plenty of opportunities for short walks in the immediate vicinity of where we'll be camping, but if you don't have good hiking shoes, or if you have brand new ones that haven't been broken in, you shouldn't go on the Saturday hike. There's nothing more miserable than  finding out you have a blister half way into a hike.

If you're being loaned a hammock, a light weight sheet might be a good idea.  Even in the summer you can get chilled at night, and most of the time a simple cotton or silk sheet will be all you need.  You might not use it, but if you need it and don't have it, you'll be uncomfortable. A pillow is also a good idea. If you're bringing your own shelter, a pad and light sleeping bag are good things to have.

You need at least one pair of socks for each day you'll be waking up out there, and I always bring at least one extra pair besides. A change of underwear for each day is a good thing, and jammies for sleeping. Nobody will be making fashion judgments out there, so you can wear the same clothes each day.  Bring a sack to put your dirty clothes in. If you want to swim, you might want to bring a swim suit.

Rain gear is a good idea, either a poncho, rain suit, or umbrella will work.  We'll have some covered areas that folks can sit under in the event of any rainfall.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Texas Wilderness Ministry Family Day Information 28 May - 1 June 2015

This post is to recap and assemble all information and discussion regarding the Texas Wilderness Ministry Family Day at Neiderhoffer Lake in the Sam Houston National Forest near New Waverly Texas 28 May - 1 June, 2015.

If this is your first visit here, or if this is the first you've heard of the Wilderness Ministry, we are a rather ad hoc group of Christian hikers, backpackers, and campers who use their hobby to bring Glory to God and to connect with Him through His Creation. Everyone is invited to our trips, just be prepared to listen to folks talk about God.  We are non-denominational, and invite men, women, and children.  We just ask those bringing children to be responsible for their children's safety and behavior. There is no charge and we do not expect donations. Occasionally a member may come up with an idea of how we may be a blessing to others or mention a need, but any contribution one makes to such causes is completely voluntary.  Becoming a member is simple, just ask to join the Facebook Group linked to here (I told you we were rather ad hoc).

Usually our trips involve hiking to a primitive campsite, but we recognize that this activity is not one favored by all members of the Family, so we decided to have one that was more sedentary.  This site is still primitive (there is no electricity or running water), but this is a car camping location and you don't have to go any further than the shore of the lake if you don't want to.

The Ministry part of the trip usually takes place as discussions around the campfire and during the meal, but we ask all participants to spend their time in Creation with open hearts so that they may hear God speaking to them, and to share if the Spirit moves them, so discussions may occur at any time.

Each trip has a theme, and we try to have one every 8 weeks. The theme for this trip comes from Deuteronomy 6, and is explained in the post linked here.

Neiderhoffer Lake is in the Sam Houston National forest and is available for use by groups through a permitting process.  The maximum number of people allowed by permit is 20, and we currently have 10 people signed up for this trip.  You can sign up for the trip by placing your name on the spreadsheet linked here. We will be having Pot Luck Dinners on both Friday and Saturday night, so please give us an idea of what you might be bringing as part of the meal(s). We will serve dinner at 8 PM each night. If you have any camping equipment that might be of communal use and are willing to let 19 other folks use it, please make note of that as well. We actually have 21 available spaces as one of those signed up on the spreadsheet will be leaving Saturday morning, so if you can't arrive until then, you can take his spot.

Thursday arrivals should expect to work.  We will need to gather firewood, set up the camp, determine and mark off parking and camping areas, cache water for those who will be hiking on Saturday, site the sanitary and cooking areas, and anything else that might come up during the set up process.

Friday is "arrival day" for most folks, and most activity during the day will involve people coming in, some Fellowship, helping to set up, and catching up with friends.

On Saturday there will be a totally voluntary hike of about 4 miles.  We will be scouting locations and accessibility of Forest Service approved campsites to be used during deer season. Water will be cached on the route on Thursday to insure everybody is properly hydrated.  We will shuttle hikers over to the point where the LST intersects with FS200 as shown on this map and hike east to inspect the campsite at mile 51.3 to see if its suitable for group camping during deer season, continue east until the trail crosses FS206 where we will have some water cached, then to the intersection of the unofficial blue blazed Niederhoffer Branch trail shown on this map to return to the lake:

We're told that Niederhoffer is clean enough for swimming, the fishing is reportedly good, and some folks will be bringing kayaks.

To get to Niederhoffer, use this map to get to Four Notch Road near New Waverly, Texas. Then go to this map to follow FS200 to FS269.  There is a gate with a combination lock on it and we will post the combination on the Facebook page about a week before the Trip.

My God bless you, keep you safe, and we hope to see you there.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

More Info on the Next Ministry Trip May 28-31, Neiderhoffer Lake, New Waverly Texas.

Discussion continues on the Facebook Page

The theme comes from Deuteronomy 6:
Deuteronomy 6: 
(6) These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (7) Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (8) Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. (9) Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

What we'll be asking is for those who attend to find a Bible Passage that speaks to them and write or print it out on something and affix it to your tarp or tent, perhaps big enough so that folks walking by can see it.  That will be the "Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." part of the event.  Those passages will be what we'll talk about over the campfire after the Fellowship Pot Luck on Friday night.  If you're not as familiar with your Bible as you think you might need to be, I'm going to ask folks on the Facebook Page to post a few suggestions.  We're not looking for you to prove how well you know your Bible, or who can pick the best passage. This is not a Contest.  No Prizes will be given (at least earthly ones). But if something speaks to you, we hope you share it with us.

On Saturday morning, we'll be giving folks passages from Deuteronomy and Leviticus of the commands given to Israel by God during their time in the Wilderness placed inside ziplock sandwich bags.  We're going to ask that you "Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads." and wear them that way all day long. I'm going to see if I can find some wristbands and head bands for you to use, but right now plan on bringing something of your own. You can read them before you put them on, and during the day.  We're also going to ask that you "Talk about them when you sit at home (in your camp or around the campfire) and when you walk along the road ( or on the hike), when you lie down and when you get up. We'll also be discussing them around Saturday night's campfire.

None of this is mandatory.  Most of us will be doing it as an expression of our Faith, but none of us will judge you if you choose to be an observer and just enjoy our company as much as we enjoy yours.

There will be a purely voluntary day hike on Saturday of about 4 miles.  We'll be exploring the route from where the LST starts a road walk west of Bella Karolyi's Gymnastics camp on FS200 and hike east past the intersection of the LST with the 4 Notch Trail to find the Blue Blaze trail that heads back to Niederhoffer.  Thursday volunteers may take that route out of Neiderhoffer to mark it where it intersects with the LST to make it easier to find and cache some water there.

Otherwise, enjoy the Fellowship, kayaking and swimming in Neiderhoffer, laying in your hammock, and just enjoying God's Creation.