Outdoors Magazine

Camping With Dogs

By Hikingwithheather @HikingHeather
Camping With Dogs
Sorting through the photos of our camping trip, I can't help but smile and occasionally laugh out loud. The dogs enjoyed themselves so much and it makes me wonder... do I do these outdoor activities for their pleasure or mine? I guess the fact that I'm smiling and laughing at the dozens of photos I took of them is my answer... their joy brings me joy.
Camping With Dogs
This was Jake's first camping trip. At 11 months old, he's still a puppy at heart even though he gains a pound a week and is at least 8 lbs heavier than Charlie right now. He's a big goofball. Pure love muffin. He makes me laugh constantly. Seeing him experience camping for the first time was so much fun. Everything was new to him and all of it was exciting. He radiates joy every minute of every day.

Camping With Dogs

I love how Jake's little head is peaking up behind the dock watching Charlie.

We arrived at the Mondeaux Dam Recreation Area in Taylor County at the Spearhead Point Campground within the Chequamegon National Forest on Sunday at noon. All the weekend campers were packing up and heading out and soon we had the place to ourselves.
Camping With Dogs

We chose campsite number 15 based on another blogger's previous review. After quickly scanning the other available campsites, this one seemed to suit our needs the best, so we parked and started unpacking the camping gear and setting up camp. In addition to standard campsites, this campground has premium sites with waterfront access and their own little docks - we chose one of those sites since our dogs are pure water dogs and we planned on using our kayaks during this trip.
Jake and Charlie immediately headed for the water - which they do whenever it is available. They scrounged up sticks and explored the vicinity while also taking time to swim in circles around the dock. The afternoon light reflected off the leaves which are beginning to change color and everything glowed yellow and orange.
Camping With Dogs

Alan and I got to work setting up camp; both of us doing our own tasks without assigning who would do what. We just did what needed to get done and within a short time, we were able to sit back and relax. I love how we're able to almost read each other's minds and are always on the same page - true partners. We work very well together and we share so much love for each other (and our dogs!).
Camping With Dogs

Alan appointed himself in charge of collecting wood and making fire, while I took over cooking and dishes. Alan and the dogs headed into the woods to find small sticks and branches to use as kindling for our bigger firewood and Jake quickly became Al's little wood-collecting helper. It became a joke over the next few days because every time Jake would head into the woods to chase a squirrel he'd come back with a stick or piece of wood. Soon enough, Jake and Alan had their own separate piles and we took bets on whose would be bigger. It was so adorable.

Camping With Dogs

Jake was almost always down by the dock... here he is waiting for Charlie to join him.

That first afternoon/evening was spent enjoying our lake view from the dock and sitting around the campfire making steak fajitas and s'mores, while settling into a slower mindset and absorbing the complete silence of the forest. There were no sounds of traffic, no music, no people talking or laughing, no noise at all. Just complete quiet.
VIDEO (Exploring our dockside campsite):

Camping With Dogs

The squirrels and chipmunks teased the dogs constantly and they were running into the woods on a chase every few minutes. By nightfall, after a full day of fresh air and exercise, we were all ready to crash in the tent.

Camping With Dogs

Jake hanging out on a dog blanket outside the tent.

Years ago, on Charlie's first camping trip, she spent the whole night pacing and trying to dig her way out of the tent. She whined and yipped and neither of us got much sleep. She's gotten better over the years and easily settles down now. But I wasn't sure how Jake would do with his first time in a tent. Luckily they were both so tired they curled up on their shared dog bed and totally fell asleep. I was glad that they didn't try to get up on our air-mattress-bed because I figured all the air would leak out by morning with that much weight on it!
Camping With Dogs

We purposely left the rain cover off the tent that first night because it was a clear night and I wanted to see the stars through the screened dome of the tent. It was hard to get to sleep because I didn't want to stop looking at the stars coming out as the sky got darker, but eventually I drifted off. Everyone slept well the first night and Jake was so happy that we were still outside the next morning! You could see the surprise on his face like, "I woke up and we're still here and we get to do this all over again?!"
Camping With Dogs

Camping With Dogs

Camping With Dogs

VIDEO (Playing around the dock):

Monday was a warm and sunny day so we decided to take the kayaks out on the flowage and see how the dogs would do on their second kayak outing of the summer. Jake, of course, did wonderful once again. But Charlie was her usual neurotic self and I quickly got frustrated with her. She hates when the kayaks get separated and she'll pace and whine and try to jump out to "herd" us up again. Only, as soon as she jumps out, she wants to get back in. It was impossible to steer the kayak with her crawling all over it and constantly falling off.
Alan and I took turns with the dogs, one on each kayak, and at times we each had both dogs in each of our boats, but nothing seemed to work just right. Alan and I both wanted Jake in our kayak and no one wanted Charlie. Poor girl. We were only out for about an hour before we got too tired of Charlie's antics and headed back to the dock.

Camping With Dogs

Charlie is always ready for a game of fetch!

I took a break to read a book for a while and Alan got his fishing pole out to cast from the dock. We figured it was time for Jake to learn about fishing. Alan caught a few fish - northern and pike - but unfortunately Jake had wandered off during those catches and never actually saw what fishing was all about.
Camping With Dogs

The afternoon was wonderful - sunny blue skies, a light breeze and beautiful fall colors emerging. Everyone got time to do their own thing - reading, fishing, napping, exploring, snacking.
Camping With Dogs

Camping With Dogs

Mamma's boy.

At dinnertime, we decided to head into town about 30 minutes away to get a burger & fries. We didn't have cell phone service at the campground, but in town we could upload photos to social media and Alan could check on his fantasy football standings. I loved not having cell phone service but by not having it, I was more aware of how much I use it and how unhealthy that can be. It was amazing how many times I had the urge to check my phone only to realize there was nothing to be seen. This is definitely something I feel I need to work on. When I upgraded my flip phone to a smart phone 3 years ago, I swore I would never become this addicted to it.
Camping With Dogs

Camping With Dogs

Doggie s'mores with peanut butter instead of chocolate. Yum!

VIDEO (Jake's first s'more):

After checking social media, we also checked the weather forecast. Strong winds and distant clouds were brewing and it looked like we might get some patchy rain that night. Tuesday night was also showing a high chance for rain. Back at camp, we put the rain flap over the screened dome of the tent and prepared camp for potentially bad weather.
But Tuesday morning came and there wasn't a drop of moisture anywhere... just gray skies and a little cooler temps. We decided this would be a good day to do some hiking, especially since the Ice Age Trail runs right through the campground. It would be great using the trails without anyone else around. While we're aware that dogs need to be leashed on the Ice Age Trail and in National Forest Campgrounds, because we were the only ones there, it seemed kind of pointless. The dogs agreed and enjoyed total freedom during our camping trip.
Camping With Dogs

In addition to hiking the IAT, we explored the campground and made notes of which sites we'd want to use on another trip. I also plan on doing a separate blog post with details on the best sites so others can get an idea of what is available here.
VIDEO (Charlie brought me a "stick" to throw but it was actually a root and it sank. Here she is "snorkeling" for it while swimming in circles. Determined doggie.)

After a dinner of steak & potatoes with more s'mores, light rain began to fall. We snuggled into the tent preparing for the worst. And yes, it rained all night. Unfortunately Alan started getting a cold earlier that day and was pretty miserable all night. The chilly dampness didn't help matters.
Camping With Dogs

We had planned on staying as long as possible on Wednesday before checkout time, but with everything dripping wet and the sky still misting, we decided to pack up and head home after brewing our final pot of coffee over the campfire.
Camping With Dogs

Jake was still bringing back pieces of wood every time he went into the woods and Charlie was still being vigilant about chasing the squirrels back up the trees (she loves having a job to do!). I know they were tired from three days in the woods, but I hated packing them up and leaving... they had so much fun while we were there!
VIDEO (The campsite dock was the dog's favorite place to hang out):

The best parts of the trip were making morning coffee over the fire and lounging around with Alan for as long as we wanted while watching the dogs run in and out of the woods or down to the dock for a swim. Their complete freedom to do whatever they wanted was so joyful to watch.
Dogs being dogs.

Camping With Dogs

Sleepy dogs after a long day of outdoor time.

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