June 18, 2013


     My family have never been the "outdoorsy" type. We don't hike, or fish, or kayak and we certainly don't go camping. The only times I have ever been 'camping' before were in either my parents backyard or behind the cabin at girl scout camp. So when my friends were going to go camping I figured this was a chance to experience something new, a little mini adventure into the forest.

     We drove into the nearby Rocky Mountains to a camping ground which was basically just a forest with some parking spots cleared on a dirt road. Above you see our campsite with the tent snuggled next to a few gigantic granite boulders. Being a nerd the area reminding me a lot of Lord of the Rings and I was disappointed only in the lack of old castle ruins.

     Opposite the tent and up a little on the incline were much larger boulders that formed an alcove or little half cave. Here someone had created a fire pit along the back wall creating a very safe little fire zone. There were stacked logs around the edge of the cleared alcove creating an outdoor seating area, at least if you brought folding chairs like we did.

     After we set up the tent and chairs the boys decided we should climb the huge boulders of the alcove area. They called it bouldering, not something I had ever really done before. Basically just climbing on big rocks and jumping from one to another. A bit like nature parcore. I really enjoyed it and was happy to be one of the more fearless girls clamoring over the rocks to be rewarded with an excellent view.

     From atop the stack of rounded granite shapes one could see we were surrounded by forest and mountains. In Colorado you learn to trust direction by the mountain range always to the west but inside the rockies it was harder to tell just which way was west. Until you saw the setting sun that is, and the sun was setting at the time we reached the top of the rocks. Filtering in and out behind the clouds the lighting changed rapidly making my photos look jumbled. I can promise the view from this little "bouldering" excursion alone made the trip camping worth it.

    After we climbed down and walked back over to the campsite our eagle scout leader realize he had everything but something to start the fire with so we had no choice but to wait for one of our friends who was coming late. Unfortunately he got lost on his way to us but after a heroic search and rescue attempt finally made it to our campsite and we got a fire going. By then it was 8:30pm and fully dark, though the sunset itself was very beautiful through the trees.

     Once our last camper had arrived an we got the fire going in our little stone alcove we attempted to cook hot dogs over the fire on sticks. I cant say this was the most successful endeavor and a small grill would have done wonders. Not the best meal ever, at this point I decided that camping cuisine was perhaps not up to my ideas of real food. In any case after some dubious half cooked hot dogs it was cocktail hour so all was forgotten. Hanging around a campfire in the forest with good company and smores is the best part about camping anyways. Nothing compares to the smell of burning fire wood and taste of melted marshmallow.

    Now it came time for sleeping in a tent, on the ground, in a forest. I had no problem falling asleep, no problem with knowing the dirty insect ridden ground was two layers of plastic tarp beneath me, no problem sleeping on pine cones. However, the damn sun woke me up! umm hello sun? can you turn it down I want to sleep in! I stupidly didn't anticipate the rude awakening of bright sunlight flooding through the thin nylon tent. They should really equip tents with a sort of blackout curtain material for those who cant sleep in the light. I woke up after only four hours of sleep feeling a bit worse for wear.

     My rude awakening was followed by a long morning of chilling in the seating alcove waiting for others to get awake and dreaming of ihop, or pizza, or warm coffee at least. At this point I accepted that as much as I loved nature and the beautiful forest that I was a glamper not a camper.

     Once everyone had arisen we made our way down the worlds longest and most nauseating curving dirt road to Wellington Lake. The forest here was even more beautiful as it was sprinkled with white aspen trees. The males of our group splintered off to hike/climb "the castle" a large protruding rock formation (see below). Us girls were more than happy to be left to fill four hours with adventures around the lake instead.

     Our first order of business was to find the waterfall indicated by signage. We followed a path to a beautiful clear little stream of freezing cold crystal clear water. I noticed tiny sparkling flakes of what I imagined was gold littered the creek bed and thought we should have been panning for gold. This is Colorado after all and there is plenty of gold and silver in these mountains. We followed the creek and the path to the waterfall which was gentle but beautiful. We climbed to the top and put our feet into the ice cold water.

     We were so tired from the lack of sleep and nauseating drive we then made our way to a picnic table by the lake and hung out lazily for the rest of the time the boys were hiking. We met them back at the car and after another stomach turning drive back to camp it was time for me to leave. I have to admit I was very relieved to be returning to civilization even though I had only been away a little over 24 hours. I missed real meals, nice bathrooms, comfy beds and the lack of insects.

     So I tried going camping. They say you should try everything once and now I don't have to ever go again. I think there is just to much city in me to really enjoy the whole experience. I love nature and walking through forests and putting my feet into freezing cold waterfalls but I think I need there to be a hotel at the end of the day for me to really enjoy the experience. I think the next time I go camping I will be going glamping instead! All the nature and all of the conveniences and luxuries together sounds like the perfect balance for me!

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