While staying in the Charleston, South Carolina area we got a great tip from another RVer. Camping next to us was a couple from Delaware, probably the only time we have met someone from that state. When I asked them if they had any recommendations for RV parks in their state, they mentioned Lum’s Pond State Park and said that it now has full hook ups. We have never stayed at a state park on this trip because they usually do not have full hook ups (water, electric and sewer). Sometimes they will have water and electric, but often it is just dry camping. We like the full hookups so I concentrate on researching RV parks that are privately owned. After checking more into it, I decided to book four nights at Lum’s Pond. I was looking forward to camping near a lake and the hiking/walking trail that goes all around the water.
Camping at Lum’s Pond in the northern part of Delaware did not disappoint. The camp sites are spread far apart from each other and it was peaceful, quiet and very pretty. Checking in was easy too. Since I booked and paid online, we just showed up in the early evening and went to our spot. We didn’t have to go to the park office the next day or deal with any other arrangements. During the time that we stayed there, we didn’t see anyone that worked there.
Lum’s Pond is the largest body of fresh water in Delaware. I think of a pond as being really small and Lum’s seems more like a small to medium-sized lake. It was created in the early 19th century by damming St. George’s Creek to supply water to fill the locks of the nearby Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and power a mill. In the 1960’s, the state park opened. One of the fun things about traveling is finding places I would not have expected, including camping in a state park near a lake in Delaware.
My favorite part of the park was the woods that surrounded the pond. A trail winds all around for over 6 miles, so there is ample area for exploring. I spent several hours on two afternoons walking the “Swamp Trail,” exploring a different side each day. The trail was well done and included boardwalks through the wettest parts and bridges over various creeks. At times the trail was close by the water and other times it stayed in the woods.
I was amazed at how beautiful and lush the forest was. It was so green everywhere, that fresh light green of spring. I really have enjoyed the hardwood forests in the eastern part of the United States. We don’t have these where we come from in California so I am seeing lots of green in our travels!
One of my favorite things about exploring in the woods is discovering unfamiliar plants or flowers as well as those I am familiar with. The Star of Bethlehem (above) I don’t recall ever seeing before. I have seen the beautiful Wild Azalea (below) in other places including California.
It was fun to find the Jack in the Pulpit, a unique hooded flower with brown stripes.
The cinnamon fern was new to me. It has cinnamon brown colored fronds shaped like spikes that come up from the middle of the plant. There were a variety of ferns carpeting the damp forest ground.
I also saw a few critters including a snake swimming across the pond, turtles, rabbits and evidence of beaver activity. I came across gnawed stumps in several places and even this well chewed tree.
My favorite animal find of the day flew through the trees and landed near enough that I got a good look. I was excited, especially since it hung around for awhile. I was able to get a close up photo and realized that this was probably an owl I had not seen before. Taking photos of birds is always a challenge for me, most of them don’t turn out well at all. At least with this photo, you can tell it is an owl. When I went back to our trailer after my walk, I did some research and found out it was a Barred Owl. Another bird to add to my life list (#343) – a very happy birder I was.
About a week ago, while researching a botanical garden online, I came upon a class being offered called “Shinrin-yoku” which is Japanese for the “Art of Forest Bathing.” I was really intrigued by this title and did some further research. It involves walking slowly through the forest and experiencing nature with all the senses – sights, sounds, aromas and letting this wash over you. The Japanese have a history of connection to nature and believe in the improved health benefits of Shinrin-yoku. The benefits include a drop in blood pressure, stress reduction, improvement in mental clarity and focus as well as increased energy levels. I also read about certified forest therapy guides that assist people in learning how to be cleansed by the forest. One video I watched talked about going into the forest ”untethered” without phones or cameras and just wander, breathing deeply and pausing to see if pulled in any direction. There should be a refrain from conversation to be able to listen to the sounds of nature, smell the aromas and notice the lasting effects of being quiet in the forest.
Although I haven’t consciously practiced Shinrin-yoku, I love to wander at an unhurried pace and soak in the beauty of nature. I have never liked rushing on a walking or hiking trip because I feel like I miss being present in the moment and seeing what is around me. When I used to hike in the Sierra Mountains in California, I would often see people hurry past on the trails trying to get to the next destination, their heads down following the path. That was never my favorite way of hitting the trail, although I realize sometimes you have an objective to meet for the day and time is of the essence. Although when I was hiking I wanted to get to my destination too, I tried to make time to soak up the atmosphere around me and enjoy nature. I hated passing up the views, the wildflowers and rushing streams.
In the future when I go into a forest or natural place, I will try to think about Shinrin-yoku and ask myself if I am slowing down and using all my senses to connect with the natural world. I will try to imagine the health benefits that come with this connection to nature. I will try to let the forest bathe and cleanse me of the stresses of everyday life, even in retirement, :).
I think Lum’s Pond State Park is a perfect place to practice this, a lovely forest and lake setting that is a treat for the senses. I could have wandered there for more days, but other places were beckoning us and so we moved on.
Thanks for spending time with us at Lum’s Pond State Park. In my next post we head for Philadelphia, a wonderful city and the best part is we got to explore it with family!