Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gettin' Our Nature On

Karin and Hermes left yesterday morning, and I have to say that a great time was had by all while they were here. They drove 15 hours through the night on Friday, arriving at 7 a.m. Saturday morning. They took a well deserved 4 hour nap, and then Karin and I made food to pack and Hermes and Bobby went to REI to rent a tent. When they returned we packed up the ol' station wagon. Love this car, lovey love love.

I also love these boots. They have served me well this winter, and definitely kept my feet warm that weekend.
Bobby's fish eye lens had been in the repair shop, and he had just gotten it back a few days prior. He was excited to take it out and play around with it. Here we all are, ready to hit the road.
We were camping in the Poudre Canyon, which is only about a half hour drive from our house. This was our home for the night, a camp site right on the river with a fire pit, picnic table, and an old school water pump. The water was so good, I'll forgive it for being freezing cold and making my hands numb.
Tent set up time! The rented tent Karin and Hermes used was the same model as ours. I love REI. Not more than I love our station wagon, but definitely right below it.
This tent rolls up really small, goes up in mere minutes, and comfortably sleeps two. I highly recommend the half dome if you're in the market for a tent. This thing has been with Bobby about 3 times longer than I have and it's still going strong.
Hey mister. *wink*
Karin and Hermes are newly married, by the way, and this was their first camping trip as a married couple. Tent + knife pose = newlywed bliss.
Posing with our twinkie tents. Bobby is so kindly enveloping my face to keep it warm.
This was dinner- made from scratch veggie and bean chili with a sprinkle of cheese and a bit of green onions. Wheat crackers on the side because I was too lazy to make cornbread.
There was Shiner to be had for those partaking. Check Karin's hat. It's a cat. The tail popping out of the side makes me happy.
After dinner we explored along the river bank, and took advantage of the opportunity to take ridiculous photos like this. I'm pretty sure every martial arts choreographer in the biz will be bangin' down our doors when they get an eyeful of this sweet magic.
Down by the river, but without the van.
Once the sun started to set it was fire time. More importantly (or I guess, on a related note) it was s'mores and banana boat time. Banana boats consist of bananas, chocolate, and marshmallows, all wrapped up safe and sound in foil and then tossed into the coals of the fire. There they undergo a beautiful transformation into a gooey, melty, chocolately soup of sugar and happiness.
Bobby demonstrates proper s'mores building. You put the graham cracker + chocolate on the grill to heat up, so that by the time your marshmallow is toasted  covered in a fine black crisp everything is warm and melty and ready to be devoured.
Banana boat, after being fished out of the coals. I tasted this and said "heaven IS a place on earth!". It's that good.
We gathered around the fire waiting for it to burn out so that we didn't cause mass destruction, and then trundled off to our respective tents.
Our new sleeping bags worked like a dream. The sleeping pads were also great. I've never slept so well outside- well, ok, sleeping on the trampoline in a Texas summer is a little bit more comfortable, but sleeping bags are infinitely easier to transport than trampolines...
This is my Sunday morning worship service- hot cocoa by a fire, watching the sun rise over the mountains and light up the river, laughing and talking with friends in the cold mountain air. Amen and amen.
I got to share a tent with this guy. I'm a lucky girl.
Once the sun rose over the mountains and it was a bit warmer we broke down camp and changed out of our fuzzy pajamas. The agenda for the day was to hike the Grey Rock loop, and the trail head was about 6 miles from camp.
 At the trailhead- I think it's important to note that at this point, we though we'd be doing about 6 miles, round trip, and gaining about 1,000 feet in elevation... the reality? 8 miles, round trip, 2,300 feet in elevation gained.
 The bridge you cross right at the beginning of the trail.
 Since it's a loop, you can choose which route to go up/come down. We went with a steep, rocky trail with lots of tree cover for our ascent.
 Newlywed kiss break.
 Once you reach the base of Grey Rock (surely I don't have to point it out, but it's that big, grey, rock in the background :) you have the choice of going back down the way you came, going back down the other side of the loop, or doing the last .75 miles to summit the rock. Yes, that's right, in under a mile you go from here to the top of that rock! It was rad.
 But those last .75 miles are hard. I mean, this is the "trail". For more than half of it you're just scrambling over rocks, and the trail is marked by cairns- little piles of rocks that mark the way (they're arranged from bottom to top going large to small, like little totems). It's a bit ambiguous and we went off the trail once or twice, but eventually found our way back.
 The summit trail opens up into a little meadow right before the final ascent. It's nice to have this break because the last part of the trail is nothing but rock climbing.
 Case in point- that's the summit, and you climb over this to get to it.
 It's not crazy rock climbing as in "I need a rope and a harness, thanks" but it's definitely climbing, using hands and feet.
 I was so happy to be on the top! It was crazy to look down at the base of the rock and think how recently we were there.
 Karin and Hermes, surveying the landscape. We all had a snack and a water break, and then it started snowing pretty hard. Going back down was more tedious than coming up, because I really didn't want to slip and crack my tailbone on the rock, so it was slow going. Oh, and I was hiking in my snow boots, which, while warm, were quite cumbersome and lacked grip.
 To complete the loop we hooked up with the Meadows trail once we got back down to the base of the rock (Grey Rock is on the right in the background).
The Meadows trail was completely different from the trail we took up- very open, relatively low incline, and it snaked its way back and forth, switchback style, across the mountain. The view was great and it was just enough sun to be warm but not sweaty and uncomfortable.

Once we got back to the car we were all feeling every one of those 8 miles and 2,300 feet gained. After a quick stop at REI to return the tent we went home, showered, and then headed out for dinner. We were all in bed and asleep by 9 p.m. that night. I think that's a good indicator of how well the weekend went. Camping and hiking should wear you out, in a good way :)

Really, the only bad thing about the weekend is that Coloradans insist on pronouncing "Poudre" as "Pooder". Yes, I know, it's awful- Poudre Canyon is pretty terrible, huh? But I'll forgive them their pronunciation foibles since the Poudre namesakes- the canyon and the river- are a great place to camp in/by :)


  1. OK I'm jealous! DO you guys never work lol, always having fun!!! you are soo lucky!!


  2. Haha, this was on the weekend, so no work was missed :) But yes, we had lots of fun! We love to camp/hike because it's a frugal way to have a great time. The total cost for two days of camping/hiking for 4 adults was right around $60, or $15 a person (that includes tent rental for Karin and Hermes, campsite, firewood, and dinner, dessert, breakfast, lunch, and snacks for everyone). $15 a person for two days and one night of camping/hiking is a far better deal than renting a hotel room- plus you get lots of exercise, fresh air, and the view is a lot nicer at the end, I think :)

    You and your wife should take a camping weekend in Texas now that the weather is getting nice. Have you ever checked out Lake Texoma? Or camping on the coast?