Tag Archives: camping

Elk Camp 2014

26 Oct

Life is finally returning to normal after the craziness that was September and the beginning of October. Travis and I are both so ready to be homebodies and not make any plans for a while! (Though as you know, weekends just have a way of getting filled up anyway.) It has been so nice to just chill at home this weekend though and get some stuff done around here.

Elk hunting in Colorado went well again this year, though it looked different than in past years since Travis and I no longer live there. Travis’ parents and nephew left on Wednesday afternoon and Travis had planned to meet them about an hour into the drive, but I had debilitating pregnancy heartburn that day so Travis stayed an extra couple of hours to help me get packed and drive me to Papa Murphy’s for dinner. He met up with them at the hotel that night. They arrived in Denver the next afternoon, went grocery shopping and loaded up Travis’ friend’s truck with gear. They headed up to camp on Friday morning – both to get the spot they wanted (they’re first come, first serve) and because it takes all day to set up camp, chop firewood, etc.

Meanwhile, I had driven down to Rochester to my parents’ house on Thursday after Emma’s 18-month well baby appointment. The drive is 3.5 hours, which is totally doable in one stretch – unless you are 14 weeks pregnant and have a toddler with you. I stopped a little over halfway in Minneapolis and spent a couple hours with a college friend, got coffee and browsed the kid’s section at Barnes & Noble, and then continued on my way. I arrived at my parents’ house around 7 pm. We hung out and ran errands on Friday, and then on Saturday, it was back up to the Cities for me to catch my flight to Denver. I cried as I hugged and kissed Emma goodbye, and I was a mess of emotions for the rest of that day, but after that, I was actually able to enjoy having a break. It helped that Emma did really well with my parents, and I was able to get updates from them every day, even up at camp.

My flight to Denver ended up being delayed a couple hours though (boo) so I didn’t get to Denver as early as I had hoped. My good friend Cathy drove me up the mountain to Silverthorne and my mother-in-law picked me up there. Cathy and I had planned to hang out up there for a couple hours, but she ended up just dropping me off and heading back. It was nice to chat with her anyway. We got up to camp around 7 pm and Beth got to work on dinner. Al was already back from hunting and had a fire going, and one by one, the other hunters (Travis, Drew, Matt and Aidan) trickled back in (shooting light was over by 7 pm each night). Each night followed a similar pattern – the hunters got back by 7:30, we ate dinner, hung around the campfire for a bit and called it a night around 8:30/9. But when you’re getting up at 5:30 in the morning, it doesn’t seem that early!

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20141012_125404 20141014_053956The next day (Sunday), it snowed 4-5 inches so Beth and I stayed hunkered down in the nice warm wall tent, except for a walk up and down the road during a brief respite. And we made a snowman.

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Meanwhile, Travis had shot a bull elk and they had to quarter it and pack it out in the snow. Not ideal, but he was pretty excited about it anyway.

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Monday, Beth and I headed to the tiny mountain town of Hot Sulphur Springs where there’s a resort that has about 20 pools filled with natural hot sulphur water that you can soak in. Since I’m pregnant, I made sure to not get too hot but I was still able to enjoy almost all of the pools (I sat halfway out of the hotter ones). It was nice and sunny, and the pools were outdoors, so it was very enjoyable. Afterward, we ate lunch in Granby, bought a few things from the grocery store and headed back to camp.

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Tuesday was a really nice day weather-wise – so much so that in the afternoon, we read our books outside in the sun and I even got a little sunburned. After lunch, while the guys took their usual after-lunch nap, Beth and I went on a short 2-mile hike on the South Fork Loop. The trail went along the river, so it was pretty flat – exactly what I was looking for because I haven’t been on a real hike in 2 years!

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Wednesday, it was time to pack up camp. None of the other guys in the hunting party saw or shot anything the rest of the week – but that’s pretty typical of elk hunting. We’re always happy to get at least 1 animal. We arrived back in Denver around 3 pm, took showers and headed out to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings – our post-elk hunting tradition of the past 5 or so years. It was only 7 pm when we were done eating and we all just wanted to go to bed! But we forced ourselves to stay up until 9 pm.

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Thursday morning, my flight left at 10 am so Travis brought me to the airport right after breakfast. True to form, I had totally forgotten to check in to my Southwest flight 24 hours in advance (and not sure if I could’ve even, because we were still at camp) so I ended up checking in just 2.5 hours before the flight. Somehow though, I was assigned A16 for boarding – which, if you know that Southwest only assigns boarding order and has open seating, you would also probably know that A16 is the first boarding position after their version of first class. I have no idea how I got the first position for a completely full flight that close to takeoff, but it was totally awesome!

My parents and Emma picked me up at the airport, and her face was absolutely priceless. Her eyes were wide, her mouth gaping, like she was just in shock that I was back. She didn’t smile or cry or anything – just stared at me. We ate lunch at Q. Cumbers and then played at a park for a while so the dogs could get out of the car (my parents watched them that week too). We decided to have dinner with my brother and sister-in-law so we went to Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America for a couple hours. Emma played with the Legos for a while and then we took her on some of the tamer rides. I think she enjoyed them…? I tried taking a picture of her on the carousel with my dad (she rode a rooster) but they turned out super blurry. Bah.

For dinner, we went over to Chris and Meg’s and then walked to Lund’s, where we got food from their deli. I had a craving for sushi (of the cooked kind) so I got aPhiladelphia Roll. For grocery store sushi, it was decent and it satisfied my craving. I didn’t end up leaving Chris and Meg’s place until 8:45, which meant I got home around 11 pm. It was a doozy of a drive home, but we made it!

We’re still cleaning and putting stuff away from the trip (camping is so.much.work.) but we got all of our meat processed with Travis’ parents last Sunday. Between the new meat and what we had left from last year, our freezer is completely full of game meat. And deer hunting is still coming up! We’re set for the apocalypse.

Elk Camp 2012

23 Oct

The best thing about elk camp this year was that I wasn’t miserably cold during the day OR at night like I have been in past years. That wasn’t a side effect of pregnancy though – Travis just did a better job in keeping the stove stoked.

The worst part about elk camp this year was that we didn’t get an elk. 😦 It happens. We’ve been lucky the past 3 years.

It was cold and rainy when I got up to camp Friday night – and before we went to bed, that rain turned into snow. We woke up to this on Saturday:

Beth and I spent most of Saturday in the tent. We read, played Bananagrams and talked about baby stuff. This is what the dogs do while we’re chilling in the tent:

 

They lay on my bed.

The guys came back for lunch and then it cleared up a bit so we went on a walk on the road near our campsite.

 

 

The guys came back around 7 and we ate dinner around the campfire.

Sunday, we hung out in the tent until the afternoon and then the sun came out! So we went on another hike on Ute Pass Trail. We were camping and hiking in the heart of hunting territory so we have to wear blaze orange and keep the dogs on a leash.

It’s hard to find any “easy” hikes around in the mountains so we just took a lot of breaks on the uphill parts.

When we got back to camp, I made a fire (with quite a bit of help from Beth) while Beth started on dinner. Then the guys came back, we ate and went to bed around 9:30 (while was late compared to the previous 2 nights!)

Monday was by far the nicest day we had. It was 60 and sunny. Beth and I went on another hike up Morgan Gulch. I forgot my camera so I don’t have any pictures. But it was pretty. We saw a pack of about 8 deer on the top of a ridge. After our hike, we ate lunch with the guys. They went back out and we sat in the sun for a while reading and doing a crossword. I actually got a little sunburned! Then it was time for me to head home.

Even though camping is a lot of work, it’s fun to get up into the mountains. And I got to do a lot of reading and hiking, which is what I wanted! I finished the book Unbroken – VERY good book. It’s a little intense (since it’s about POW camps during WWII) but the ending is awesome. And it gives a different perspective to WWII than I had ever read about before.

 

 

A Mini Backpacking Trip

21 Aug

Last weekend, Travis and I headed up to White Ranch near Golden – a mere 30 minutes from our house – for a mini backpacking trip with some good friends from church and their 2 kids. I say mini backpacking trip because it was only 1 mile to our campsite and we only stayed 1 night.

But it was still a lot of fun! Since we were so close to Denver, we could see the city from the hill we were on, and at night, we could see all of the city lights.

Since it was a mile to the campsite, we packed everything like we would’ve for a longer backpacking trip. And then we saw people with rolling suitcases and wagons and armloads of stuff. I didn’t feel so sheepish about bringing my travel pillow along then (which actually worked great).

We set up camp, ate dinner and then roasted marshmallows for s’mores. The kids were obsessed with poking long sticks into the fire.

 

The next morning, pooches were wide awake by 5:30. At 6:45, I finally decided to get up and let them out.  This was the beautiful site I saw as I got out of the tent:

It was jaw-dropping beautiful. I just stood there for a bit looking at it. The picture does not do it justice.

After using the restrooms, pooches and I went on a little walk down the trail in the opposite direction of where we had come up the night before. When we got a little way from the campsites, I let them off their leashes and they ran around like idiots. They love being outdoors and exploring. It would be a shame if we went camping and they didn’t get to do that.

Everything was so amazingly gorgeous in that early morning light and as I hiked around, I felt so in awe of God and His creation. The heavens and earth truly do declare His praise.

After my meditative hike, pooches and I went back to the campsite and waited for everyone else to get up. I fed the dogs, ate a couple of clementines and laid down on the picnic bench, looking up at blue sky and pine boughs.

People finally got up and we ate breakfast, played on the big rocks, went on another little walk/hike, and then packed up camp. The mile back to the cars went by quickly and then Travis and I headed to Which Wich to have lunch. It was my first time eating there and while I really loved all of the options, it made it difficult to choose what to get! I ended up not being overly crazy about what I ordered but I would definitely go back. They serve breakfast sandwiches all day. Mmmm…

Travis and I are hoping to go camping once more before it snows in the high country, hopefully sometime in September.

 

 

 

4th Annual Camping Trip

18 Jun

This past weekend was our 4th Annual Care Group Camping Trip (at our church, we call small groups ‘care groups’). Just like last year, we went up to Twin Lakes on Friday night and stayed until mid-morning Sunday. And just like the past 3 years, a good time was had by all. Travis and I are really blessed to have such great friends.

We accidentally brought along our smallest tent so it was a tight squeeze with 2 people + 2 dogs but we made it work. And it actually turned out really well because our tent got really warm at night and I slept great. Usually when we go camping, I sleep horribly because I’m freezing all night and can’t wait until it’s light outside. This time, we slept in until after 7 both mornings!

Rocks and dirt provide an endless source of amusement for boys.

Lots of marshmallows were roasted.

Saturday morning, we drove up Independence Pass and hiked a little at the top (Travis went fly fishing instead).

Gorgeous views.

I love wildflowers (darn that camera strap sneaking in there!).

After lunch back at camp, I read The Autobiography of George Muller for a couple of hours. I would’ve loved a nap but it was too hot in the tent.

Then we hiked the Colorado Trail down to the lake.

Boys love throwing rocks into the water.

Charlie was pooped! Katy was hot.

After dinner, a roasted marshmallow got a little out of control…

Charlie made a new friend, Logan, who also loves to play rough. They played for hours the first night and again some more on Sunday morning (Saturday, Charlie was too tired from our hikes to play.) Doesn’t she look ferocious in this picture?

Sunday morning, we had a little worship time.

Then we took a group shot (even though some of the group left early), packed up and headed home.

Good times!

Elk Slayers

25 Oct

Here are the elk hunting pictures you’ve been waiting for I told you about. Even if you don’t want to see them.

But I promise there is nothing gross or bloody awaiting you. These are just the nice pictures.

Travis’ parents and brother arrived Thursday afternoon and did all the grocery shopping. When I got home, they were loading up the trucks, so while they did that, I packed my bag. I did fairly good this time and only forgot a flashlight. That’s not important when you’re camping, right? (It turned out okay because I didn’t go to the bathroom during the night once – haha!, and I borrowed a lantern anytime it was dark.)

Friday morning, I got up early to make monkey bread (a breakfast tradition with Travis’ family) and shower. We got on the road about 7:15, got up to Silverthorne around 8, and drove another hour and a half into the middle of nowhere to find our mud pit camp spot.

 

Mission accomplished.

You can’t really tell from this picture but 60 degrees, intense sun at 9750 feet, melting snow, and dirt ground = MAJOR MUD. Ew. It was only bad for the first day and the last day we were there though.

We decided on the spot for our tent (easier said than done since the whole campsite sloped one way or another) and started setting ‘er up.

Voila!

Katy didn’t even pretend to help.

Next orders of business were getting the kitchen set up, getting the tent and rainfly staked down, assembling the wood stove, chopping firewood and setting up our cots and sleeping bags. I tell you what, elk hunting is a lot of work. And I don’t even do any of the hunting!

Free tent courtesy of Your Cause Sports.

The Leaning Tent of Pisa. The black camp stove was propped up by wood to be level and it seriously played with your head. Trippy.

My adorable hubby “trenching” – the snow was melting so fast we practically had a river running through our camp!

The inside of our tent – close quarters! The stove isn’t in the pic but it’s to the left, right as you walk in the tent. (I unfortunately didn’t take a pic of it.) My cot is usually the middle one on the left (as this picture shows) but Beth and I ended up switching so I could be near the stove. Nice on cold nights but one night, I melted into a puddle because the stove was cranked so high! Holy cow. I actually got up and asked Travis to turn it down. (Now I know how, so I could just do it myself.)

You can also see the dogs’ kennel in the back left. Charlie slept in there and Katy (who sleeps like a rock) slept on Beth’s sleeping bag most nights. Last year, Katy got so cold sleeping in the tent that I let her sleep inside my sleeping bag. She crawled all the way down to the bottom (talk about not being claustrophobic!) of my mummy bag! This year, I switched sleeping bags with Travis to let her do the same thing, except in a square bag. Well, instead of being rated for 0 degrees, his is rated for -25 and Katy ended up overheating. She crawled back up to the top, panting, and ended up just sleeping the outside of the bag. Then I switched my sleeping bag back and she decided to sleep on Beth’s instead. Fine by me!

After we got everything set up, we just hung out.

Charlie doesn’t mind laying in the dirt one little bit.

I was pretty impressed at Travis’ and Matthew’s wood-splitting abilities (they chopped it after using the chainsaw). I’m pretty sure you don’t want me to ever use a hatchet or a splitting maul. Pretty much anything that involves hand-eye coordination, you want to keep far, far away from me.

Evening, morning, the First Day.

Saturday morning was Opener. Weehee! Beth seemingly bounded out of bed to cook pancakes and bacon (as she did every morning) and by 6:15, the men were off to slay themselves some elk. They were going to come back for lunch at noon, so we had some time to kill. Every day, we read our books while waiting for it to get light outside. Then we’d wash dishes and do various things – read, go on a walk, play a game, scrapbook. Saturday was the nicest day we had so I actually took a nap in the sun.

So did Charlie:

Noon rolled around, then 12:15, 12:30. The guys still hadn’t come back. Beth and I got into a conversation about Occupy Denver and pretty soon, it was 1:15. We decided to go ahead and eat, hoping that the men’s tardiness meant they had actually shot something. Since we were a lot closer to the hunting zone that year, we heard a lot of shots but obviously didn’t know if one of those had been our guys.

Finally, around 4, the guys came back, a nice big rack in the back of the pickup. They had shot it at 9:30 that morning after they heard the elk bugle over a ridge. Once they saw it, Done.

As you might know, elk are huge. Not as big as moose, perhaps, but still huge. They estimated this male elk weighed 750 lbs – once you butcher it, you end up with about 200 lbs of meat. That’s a lot of meat. Each hindquarter weighed 65 lbs just by itself. Travis and Matthew both made 2 trips, Al made one (really heavy) one, to get the elk to the truck. Some people use horses to bring their meat out – these guys just use backpacks. Big, external frame packs. Needless to say, after their haul (literally), they were wiped.

Since I promised no gross pictures, here’s just one of the rack. Aren’t I so lucky that Travis wants to hang that on our wall with the skull still attached?

We ate dinner – I can’t remember what it was that night exactly but over the course of the 5 days, we had chili, potroast with veggies, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and stuffing. For breakfast, Beth cooked bacon or sausage with pancakes or french toast. And lunch was always sandwiches with a side of baby carrots, chips, trail mix, string cheese, mini candy bars, or granola bars. I tell you, we ate good out there. I also drank more Mountain Dews and ate more mini candy bars than I had since July’s Weeklong Eating Extravaganza.

The next day (Sunday), Beth and I drove into town for ice and a few other things. Because of the nasty, not-well-kept roads and the fact that we were camping in the middle of nowhere, it took us an hour and 15 minutes just one way. We were in town for about 40 minutes, then turned around and drove back. I was not asking to do that drive again anytime soon.

Monday, it snowed and we all stayed inside for the better part of the day.

Everything was freezing (literally) and the wind was blowing snow everywhere. Made it very challenging to do dishes. After the guys left, Beth and I played Bananagrams, scrapbooked, and read. We got checked out by the Division of Wildlife twice. We went on a walk in the snow.

A lot of the trees in that area are dead because of the pine beetle. So sad.

Blaze orange is the new black. Even the dogs thought so, with their blaze orange bows. We didn’t want them to be mistaken for any baby elk, although I mentioned to Beth that the dogs wouldn’t ever stay still long enough to get shot.

Tuesday, it didn’t snow but it was decently cold so we stayed inside or by the fire. We went on a hike called South Fork Loop. Very muddy and destroyed by horse hooves. Grrr…

Wednesday, it warmed up just in time to pack everything up.

But the fun didn’t stop there! Once we got home, everyone immediately got to work unloading the truck, hauling stuff into the house, setting up the wall tent to dry, scrubbing the tent floor clean, etc. I unpacked all the food and went grocery shopping. Travis bought a new vacuum sealer (ours bit the dust – don’t get the Seal a Meal brand!). Finally, it was time for Buffalo Wild Wings – the guys split 50 wings between the 3 of them (they were a little full afterward). Beth and I split 12 boneless wings. I also got a Black Cherry Mojito and it was delicious! And only $5!

The next day, it was back to work and I’ve already told you my saga of what happened after work. I’m glad elk hunting is over – it’s fun and I like Travis’ family but it’s a crapton of work. And I’m ready for some relaxing weekends. (Even so, I’ve already been fighting off the temptation to schedule things “now that I have free weekends”!)

Any questions about elk camp?

Look like something you’d like to do?

It’s the most wonderful time of year…

13 Oct

…Elk hunting. Christmas is a close second.

Tomorrow morning, Travis and I, along with Travis’ mom, dad, and bro, will head up into the mountains to slay us some elk. Beth and I will be conveniently spectating from the warmth of our wall tent that looks very similar to this:

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But with mornings that look more like this:

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Gah, the mornings are brutal.

Here’s the weather forecast:

At least it looks like it won’t snow. Mid-50s is actually very nice weather for the hunters, since they’ll be traipsed through the woods all day with guns and backpacks. If it’s too hot, they can’t wear their blaze orange wool shirts and stocking caps! Last year, it was so warm that they wore t-shirts. But it worked out pretty well for me and Beth, since we got to lay outside reading our books without being cold.

Anyway, don’t feel too jealous about me being up in the mountains without you.

Unless we come back with more than one elk.

Then, be very  jealous.

Until next Thursday…

Weekly Recap: 8/01 – 8/07

8 Aug

Between returning from Minnesota, going camping this past weekend at Twin Lakes near Buena Vista and being ridiculously tired and worn out, both physically and mentally, my training last week wasn’t the greatest. But at least I did something, right?

Monday: Rest

I did laundry, dishes and grocery shopping instead of training.

Tuesday: 7.5 mile bike (22:00), 1 mile run (12:46), abs + pushups

I had hoped this would be a 7.5 mile bike + 3 mile run x 2 but we got to the Rec late and I ended up getting acid reflux from the spaghetti I ate for dinner. 😦 So I ran/walked a mile before deciding to do abs and pushups instead. (I did the bike ride on a Spinning bike, hence the 20 mph pace.) My arms and core were sore the next day so at least there’s that!

Wednesday: 7 mile run (1:23:22, 11:36/mile)

This is the only workout from last week that I am proud of. I was a little nervous trying for 7 miles after taking an entire week off from running. It was also 75 degrees and humid (for CO) that day, which I definitely felt during this run. My legs were very tired and sore by the end but I continued to push it, partly out of fear that I will have to run 6 miles during the race after biking 25 and swimming 1!

Thursday: Rest

I was just so wiped after work and knew that I would have to pack for camping too, that I decided to watch 2 episodes of Drop Dead Diva instead of doing a bike ride. Though I felt kind of guilty, this was the first workout that I intentionally blew off since I started training back in March. Not too shabby, if I say so myself.

Friday: 1,750 yd swim

I timed myself on 825 yards (750 meters) during this swim, to get an idea of what my goal should be during the race. The 825 yards took me 21:20 so I think my stretch goal for the swim will be 43 minutes, realistic goal 45 minutes (the Oly swim distance is 1500 m).

Saturday: Rest

I went on a hike stroll with friends from church and then went swimming in the lake.

Sunday: Rest

We went on another easy hike on Sunday, but I didn’t get out of breath or break a sweat at all so to me, that is more of a stroll in beautiful scenery than a hike. But it was still enjoyable! (Photos to come soon!)

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I have decided to ditch my idea of getting up at 4:30 to get in the Word and train before work. Instead, I am going to spend time with God in the morning and train at night. And if the weather doesn’t cooperate or the pool is overrun by the swim team? Suck it up cupcake. I am really enjoying the more leisurely mornings. And because we are approaching fall, sunrise isn’t until 6 am now, which would make my outdoor workouts start later than they’d really need to for me to make it to work on time. So evening workouts it is.

With that, I’ll leave you with this creative representation of my day at work:

Happy Monday readers!

Fourth of July on Eaglesmere Trail

12 Jul

Here, finally, are the pictures from our wonderful and challenging backpacking trip.

We hiked Eaglesmere Trail, which is about 45 minutes NW of Silverthorne. The trailhead is located near Lower Cataract Lake.

Thank you, Google Maps.

The road to get to the trail head is pretty rough (washboard dirt roads) and tight (which makes for some interesting times when there’s an oncoming car). When we arrived at the trail head parking lot around 10:30 am, both the main lot and the overflow lot were completely full. We had no choice but to create our own spot, which was difficult because the Forest Service has lined the open areas with logs to prevent you from doing just that. Secret: there’s an open spot near the outhouse, which is where we parked.

We finally got on the trail, which was absolutely gorgeous. It was very wooded and green, with lots of plants and flowers. It actually kind of felt like a jungle. Since the last couple of hikes Travis and I have gone on were near Colorado Springs where it’s very rocky, this lushness was a pleasant change.

It was very hot this July 4th weekend with temperatures reaching 100 in Denver and mid-80s in the mountains. Within 10 minutes of starting out, I had sweat streaming down my face and dripping off my chin – and we were still in the shade!  There are a few stretches of this hike in full sun and while it gets hot out there, they’re not the steepest parts. But you do get a gorgeous view.

I totally think I look like my mom in that picture. Like mother, like daughter. 🙂

Our dog, Katy, was so cute on this trip. While our dog, Charlie, stuck to the front of the pack with Rocky (Ahren and Lauren’s dog), Katy followed along after Ahren and Lauren and would come back to watch for me and Travis pulling up the rear. Once we were in sight again, she’d continue on. Just wanted to make sure we I hadn’t died, I guess.

See my massive calf muscle? Hells yeah!

Also, note my little lantern hung on the back of my pack (it’s the blue thing at the bottom). Travis laughed at me when I bought it. I laugh at him when he wears his headlamp.

At about the time the last picture above was taken, my legs and my mouth were cursing at the never-ending hills on this trail. The highest point of the trail is 10,300 ft – starting at 8,500 ft – an elevation gain of 1,800 ft, which isn’t that bad except when you’re 1) not in backpacking shape and 2) doing hard workouts all week for triathlon training. My legs were just so tired. I have never felt like that on a hike before (well except for the first time I went backpacking, but I’m in a lot better shape than then. Last year, we did 30 miles in 3 days but they were flat miles. I hate hills!)

Finally, we were getting closer. We arrived at a stream (which was more like a small river it was flowing so fast) and then bushwhacked it on the ‘Rock Superhighway’ to the lake (which I don’t think is actually Eaglesmere Lake but some other obscure, yet well-known, little lake).

Finally, to my immense relief, we arrived. I survived! But the thing about backpacking (or really camping in general) is that once the hard work is over, there’s more hard work. Like setting up your tents, making a fire ring, keeping an eye on your dogs so they don’t piss your neighbors off (even though they piss you off with firecrackers at 10 pm and a dog named Slim that keeps visiting), cooking your food, filtering water, gathering fire wood, trekking up hills just to go to the bathroom, etc. Camping is so much work.

But at last, with all the dirty work out of the way, it was time for fishing, reading, picture taking, and a campfire.

The view of the lake from our campsite

The view of the mountains from our campsite

Our tent (borrowed from Ahren and Lauren because ours would not fit us + 2 pups)

Yay for self-portraits a la SkinnyRunner!

Isn’t that a totally awesome picture? Yeah, I took that – on my little Canon PowerShot.

The next morning, I woke up as the Green Hulk. That’s what happens when two dogs that should be exhausted beyond recognition still decide to wake up at 5 am. Grrrr…

Instead of accepting my early wake up call like I should have, I took the dogs on a little 10-minute walk, then tried to get them to go back to sleep in the tent. They weren’t having it (for the record, they hit their daily energy peak at 6 am). So I had Travis tie them to a tree when he got up to pee. Which was pretty much useless because I just laid there the whole time, hearing them walking around, tangling themselves together, and then Charlie digging a hole.

Finally, I resigned myself to my fate and got up. Not too long after that, Ahren and Lauren were up, and then I made Travis get up too.

After a breakfast of oatmeal and Strawberry Goober, we hiked down the stream that flows out of the lake to go fishing (I went to go reading). Actually, after contemplating an entire day of reading, I decided I would try my hand at fishing. Three casts in, I snagged my line on a rock or log and Travis broke the rod trying to get it un-snagged. Fishing FAIL. That is why I just shouldn’t fish. The universe was telling me something.

So instead, I read The Autobiography of George Muller and the Bible.

I also snuggled Katy.

She’s my little sidekick.

We also sat back-to-back for a little bit, which I thought was funny. (It’s also funny that I double as Popeye in this photo.)

I watched Travis fish for a bit.

Ahren and Lauren have been to this spot before and had tremendous luck catching fish. But the stream was a lot higher and faster than past years (due to the abnormally high amount of snow the high country received last winter) so we weren’t having much luck. After 30 minutes of no luck, we moved downstream to find Ahren and Lauren.

They found a great fishing spot where there was a bend in the stream and some trees had fallen across, creating slower water. It was also hilarious to watch the dogs make their way across these logs. Their balance wasn’t always the greatest, but not one fell in (though Rocky got wet a lot on purpose). Our dogs want nothing to do with water.

Kluthes didn’t have the greatest fishing luck. While Ahren and Lauren caught 4-5 small brook trout (and Lauren had caught a nice, big one the night before at the lake), Travis caught a few (I caught none of course) and then he caught his line on a log. After a wholehearted attempt to save the lure (I’m not a fisher so I don’t know what you call them), they cut the line and said RIP.

Meanwhile, the early-rising dogs were peetered out and trying to take a nap anywhere they could.

We all laughed at the places Charlie tried to sleep. While we were at our campsite the second night, both Katy and Charlie were so tired that they found little nooks to curl up in. Charlie even tried to crawl under the vestibule on Ahren and Lauren’s tent. When we told she couldn’t do that, she found a cozy spot in a some tall grass. I kept telling her that she wouldn’t be so tired if she’d just stop getting up so early but she just looked at me with her Eeyore face. Oh, bother.

Since the pooches were so obviously tired (and so was I), I decided to capitalize on their sleepiness by returning to camp for a nap of my own. It was glorious but I felt a little guilty because by the time I got up from my nap, Ahren and Lauren had filtered water, collected more firewood and gutted their fish. Whoops.

After dinner and some campfire discussion, I retired to bed with the pooches at 9 pm.

The next morning, pooches didn’t get up until 8 am! It was a miracle! I slept a lot better the second night (I got a little chilly at night but warmed right up by sticking my head in my sleeping bag). We ate our breakfast of champions (oatmeal with Strawberry Goober) and packed up camp. We took some pictures of the gang:

I had been nervous about the hike back and even prayed the night before as I was falling asleep that God would give me the energy and strength I needed to make it back. The first mile and a half on the way back was mostly uphill (since the lake itself is only at 10,000 ft) and I was sweating buckets again. After that, it was downhill. While I was glad to not be incredibly out of breath and ridiculously sweaty (I was only really sweaty), my legs were still exhausted.

I was SO ready to be done that I welcomed a break for this photo op (Travis took that pic – I think he did very well!):

Little did we know that the appearance of Colorado Columbine means the end of the hike! I rounded the trail bend, saw the trail head, and exclaimed “We made it!”

After using the outhouse, replacing our hiking boots with sandals, and loading up the tired pooches, we made our way to Silverthorne for some delicious food at Dairy Queen. I had the chicken finger basket and a mini Banana Split Blizzard. Delish!

Then we discovered that eastbound I-70 (the main interstate connecting Denver to the high country) was closed due to a semi-trailer that overturned. So our drive home looked like this:

It was a cluster. People were doing whatever they wanted or thought was necessary. What should have taken us an hour took us 2 1/2 but we finally made it home. We were so exhausted from the weekend and fed up with crowds that we decided to forego fireworks (and if you know how much I like fireworks, that is saying a lot). The annual Carnation Festival in Wheat Ridge always has a fireworks show so I figure I can just catch them then.

Well, that was our weekend. Backpacking is a fun adventure but man, it is hard work!

More Memorial Day Pics

3 Jun

Memorial Day Fun

3 Jun

On the hike up Cedar Mountain

This post is  happening a work week later than I had planned on but hey! that means I’ve actually had work to do at work this week… gasp! As my workload has dwindled today, here’s the recap finally.

Summer is officially here! (I don’t care what the calendar says.) Travis and I went camping Memorial Day weekend for the first time of the year. Our friend Randy’s family has some property down there so we got to stay there for free. Sahweet! Their land is rented from the Lutheran Valley Ranch so there were quite a few other people there besides us, but the land plots are so big (5-6 acres) that it’s definitely not a campground feel. BUT there is a Ranch House with running water and toilets (very much appreciated). I may advocate tents over campers for the feeling of camping, but I definitely do not advocate peeing outside over inside (at least for women).

After a couple of long, hectic weeks, Travis and I decided to leave for camping Saturday morning, which was definitely the right decision. We got a lot accomplished Friday night in preparation for leaving (loading the truck, grocery shopping, laundry, an episode of Bones) and still didn’t leave our house until 8:30 Saturday morning.

As we went through Colorado Springs, Travis asked to stop and take some pictures of a culvert. No, that’s not weird. It’s for his job. And he enjoys it. In return, I asked to stop and get a chicken biscuit from Chick-Fil-A. No, that’s not weird. I’m always thinking about food. Especially chicken biscuits from Chick-Fil-A.

Our cooking setup

Then we continued on up into the mountains, arriving at our campsite around 11:00. After setting up our tent, sleeping bags, and eating lunch, we took a short nap with the pooches in the tent and then went on a hike suggested by Randy up Cedar Mountain. There are no signs at the trailhead for the hikes in this area, so we had to drive into the Retreat Center and ask someone who worked there where the trail was. Their directions were just as nebulous but we did end up finding the trail.

The first 30 minutes were very easy. But once we got to where the switchbacks started, things only got harder. Randy had told us it was like rock climbing in some areas and during this part of the hike, I was sort of laughing at him because it wasn’t at all as steep as I had expected “rock climbing” to be. That’s because we hadn’t gotten to that part yet…

When we finally did, I was skeptical as to whether we could actually get the dogs up such slopes. We ended up having to have one of us go up partway while the other stood at the bottom. We’d call the dogs up the slope and as they got their running start but didn’t *quite* make it to the top, the person at the top would grab them and pull them the rest of the way. Then there was another part where Charlie was too scared and wanted to go back down but I just grabbed her and carried her for a little bit. She was a trooper, though, for this having been her first hike ever.

But then we found ourselves faced with a ladder and decided that it wasn’t worth trying to carry the pooches up and down that. So we turned around after Travis climbed to the top and took some pictures. He offered that I could climb up while he waited with the dogs but I started up the ladder and then decided I was ok. I’m not huge into steep, technical hiking. Plus, he said the views were pretty much the same at the top as where I was. Settled.

When we got back to our campsite, it was about 4:00 – too early for dinner. Travis cracked open a beer and I brewed some coffee. Both beverages were soon abandoned due to an emergency: Katy and Charlie got quilled by a porcupine.We had been letting them run around off their leashes and being dogs, they kept going far enough that we lost sight of them. After calling them back several times, we wondered, maybe it’s ok to just let them run? They wouldn’t go too far… which was true. That didn’t mean they wouldn’t get into trouble though.

But as I took my first sip of coffee, we heard barking. Crap, we thought, they’re barking at one of the neighbors and annoying the crap out of them. Lazily and mostly annoyed, we walked in the direction of the barking, calling for the pooches to come. They didn’t.

Until we heard them yelp and then emerge with snouts covered in what appeared to porcupine quills. Katy was making gasping and choking noises and Charlie seemed to mostly ok. We ran back to our campsite and got out the pathetic plastic tweezers from our first aid kit. They were completely useless. Luckily, Travis had some pliers so he got those out and while he sat on Katy and I helped hold her mouth open, we pulled those quills out. Poor Katy – she had probably a couple hundred quills in her lips, on the roof of her mouth, in her gums, on her tongue. Every quill pulled out brought blood and made her wiggle trying to break free from our grip. She did really well, though, considering the circumstances.

Charlie’s condition wasn’t nearly as bad. She had 25-30 quills, mostly in her gums and lips as well. But she did not like getting the quills ripped out one bit. She thrashed and whined and wriggled so much that Travis had to literally sit on her with all his weight.

After one more switch in instruments (forceps worked the best), we were finally done – both with pulling quills out and with letting the dogs run around off their leashes. We didn’t need to deal with that anymore.By that time, it was time for dinner so Travis started a fire and we put some brats, asparagus, and baked beans on the grate over the fire. (Note to self: Defer to Travis in all matters related to cooking on the fire or grill.) After a walk around the lake near the Ranch House and some wine/beer and s’mores, we retired to bed at the hour of 9 pm.The flapping tent

But it was next to impossible to sleep. When we first went to bed, it was dead silent except for these god-awfully loud crickets that seemed to be in my eardrums. I couldn’t stand it so I got out my iPod and put on some sleepy tunes. That helped and within 20 minutes or so, I was falling asleep.

Only to be awaken around 3 am by the howling wind and constantly flapping tent. After that, every time I was almost dropping off, the wind would pick up and send our tent flap a-flappin’ and wake me up.

Travis also had a hard time sleeping. At first, he couldn’t get to sleep because he was worried about bears. After he got up and hung our garbage bag in a tree a ways from our tent, he figured he’d be able to go to sleep. No such luck. Because that was when the wind picked up and then he laid awake worrying about a tree falling on our tent. Ay-ay-ay.

The next morning, the pooches woke up at 7 am. I took them on a nice little morning walk, drank some coffee, and spent time in the Word while Travis tried to sleep a bit longer. At 9 am, he finally got up and we made breakfast. After washing dishes and grooming, we headed out for the hike we were thinking about doing down a drainage that led to the South Platte River. But we were prevented by two words: ATV Mecca. There were so many ATV-ers out and about that we decided to not do the trail we had been thinking of (not with two pooches off leashes). So after an hour spent driving around on eroded, extremely bumpy dirt roads getting our brains scrambled, we retreated to another hike Randy had told us about.

Like the previous hike, there was no sign for the trail leading to the ‘Stone Cabin’ and the directions we had from Randy were pretty vague. We started out walking on what appeared to be a trail but quickly vanished into nothingness. There was a trail on the other side of the stream but we had seen ATVs on it as we started out and that was exactly what we were trying to avoid. So we kept walking. After about .75 mile of hiking through the woods seeing no sign of a Stone Cabin, we started getting pinched out of the drainage and decided to head up the slope and walk the ridge back.

As we were sitting on a downed tree trunk eating trail mix and PB&J sandwiches, we heard voices. Hmmm, we thought, the ATV trail must not be that far away. Come to realize, those voices were coming from above us – a group of 4-5 people were coming down from the peak about 200’ above us. We decided to ask the people if they knew where the Stone Cabin was. They did! After giving us some more vague directions (“Follow this trail and turn right”) and encouraging us to check out the view from up top, they left and we hiked up to the top

.As typical with any peak (and especially so that day since the wind from the previous night had not let up but continued to blow at gusts of 30-40 mph), it was incredibly windy at the top but it was gorgeous. A panoramic point if I ever saw one.

We continued on our journey to find the Stone Cabin, not really sure we knew where we were going. But then we reached a T in the trail and the directions those people had given us made sense. The detour to the Stone Cabin only took us about 35 minutes of hiking time and was definitely worth it – I love seeing old cabins like that tucked back in the middle of nowhere. To think that someone actually lived there!

Finally, we were headed back. When we got back to our campsite, we fed the pooches and then put them in their kennel because they were both exhausted. Every time we had stopped during our hike, they both found shady spots and lie down.

Travis and I were also tired so we went into our tent and read our books for a while. The wind was still ferocious (I swear, it had to have been 50 mph at times) and our tent was still flapping and we had had it up to here, so we decided to eat our dinner of white bean chili and beer bread sitting in the cab of our truck, just to escape the wind momentarily. That was when Randy showed up. He and Travis were going to go fishing on Monday while I went back to Denver with the pooches.

After helping Randy get settled, we sat around and talked in the wind and the dark (no campfire when it’s so windy), ate some uncooked s’mores, and went to bed around 9 pm again. Pooches slept in their kennel that night because the bottom zipper on our tent door broke and we didn’t want to have to deal with them trying to sneak out at night.Though it was still very windy that night, I slept a LOT better than the night before. Travis did too, once he got up to rig the tent flap to stop flapping. (So that’s why it was so quiet!) Morning came very early though, at 6:15 am.

After a breakfast of burritos and coffee (provided by Randy), we packed up camp and headed out. Travis and Randy went camping and I and the pooches went home. Traffic wasn’t bad at all and I got home by 11:00. I unloaded all the coolers, totes, pooches and bags; put everything away; cleaned out the coolers; watered the garden and landscaping; did the dishes; took a shower; and then read a bit until I fell asleep for a sweet hour-and-a-half nap.

I ended up going grocery shopping and doing laundry later that night but overall, it was a pretty chill evening. We got dinner from Sonic (chili cheese tots for me, popcorn chicken for Travis) and then rented Knight and Day from Redbox.

Then Monday, it was back to the work grind. (But I actually had work to do, so it wasn’t too bad!)

Note: WordPress won’t let me insert any more photos without dismantling my text so I will post more pictures in a separate post.