This past weekend my fiancé and brother went camping at the P.O.W. campground. The campground and accompanying lake are located in De Soto National Forest, a gigantic forest of 810 miles-squared (518,000 acres).
I just love National Forests. With a few exceptions, you can pretty much camp anywhere as long as you don’t disturb the existing forest. Unlink most National Parks, State Parks, etc etc, there are multiple spots within the forest where you don’t have to reserve campsites, pay money, etc. You just show up and follow the rules. A quick glance at the map told me that De Soto forest was big and close, so I decided to go there next.
Some quick searches really turned up only a little information on this area online, so I called the main phone # for De Soto and they were very helpful (601-528-6160). They gave me two pamphlets, attached below.
Since we were coming from Mobile, we decided to go to P.O.W. campground as that was closest. So named because it really was a Prisoner of War camp during WWII for mostly German soldiers captured in Europe. All that remains of this camp are ammunition bunkers.
As the sun was setting, we arrived at the campground. There were maybe 7 or 8 campsites set up but plenty of room for us. Noticing that most of the campsites were on one side of the lake, we crossed a 10 ft wide land-bridge that was created to make the dam to get to the other side (4wd recommended!). Setting up shop by the lake, we get the fire started slowly while setting up the tent. As it was a Friday in Lent we used the cast iron to, in theory, fry catfish I had bought at Publix but what really happened was something between frying and baking. This and a side of wild rice made for a good meal. As the lantern was turned off, the stars turned on in an amazing show of beauty.
The sun making its appearance early next morning. Coffee was next, and for some vanilla creamer. Some people out there believe camping to be a way for one to test how much comfort the human body can go without. I suppose this depends on the camper. As a side note, I think some people test this thesis in the home as well – no need to go camping! I on the other hand, do not think that the experience of camping has to be a horrible experience of testing the limits of the human body, like P90X. I brought bacon and eggs to give warmth to the human soul and body for everyone. Of course bacon was first, and then eggs second. This was all done in the cast iron.
Cleaning everything up, we embarked on a 3-4 hour hike around the area. Starting at P.O.W. camp, we went south on the Tuxachanie Trail, which follows the Tuxachanie Creek. This creek name is a corruption of Takshochiya, a Choctaw word meaning roughly “fragments of hominy cooking pots” (see Native American Place Names in Mississippi, Keith A. Baca).
Tuxachanie Trail is a 11-12 mile hike. There were very few signs for the trail, but we figured out that the white diamond trailmarker was for the trail.
From P.O.W. camp, we went south on the trail until we hit Bethel Road. From Bethel Road we went west, until we hit Forest Road (FR) 420-E and went north back to the camp. We went all the way north on this FR until we swampy trails prevented us, then we broke for lunch. We saw an amazing amount of longleaf pine, and apparently a prescribed burn had recently taken place.
We had a lot of fun. We will be back to do the rest of Tuxachanie Trail!