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Our First Time Dispersed Camping (Kind Of)

Hello, friends!

It’s been awhile! To say that a lot has happened since the last time I wrote on here would be the greatest understatement. I don’t need to tell you that the world has been flipped upside down. But I will ask- How are you all doing? How are you getting through everything?

Kevin and I have found two new interests – *cough* obsessions- since the pandemic started: backpacking and camping. Since then, we have gone HAM.

Even as things were reopening in Colorado, we preferred to stay away from crowds as much as possible. We quickly purchased equipment and went on our first backpacking trip in the Mount Evans Wilderness and that experience…did not go as we planned.

For starters, people do not tell you how confusing beginning backpacking is going to be. You would think, “Oh, you just put your sleeping bag in a backpack and just find a campsite.” But the problem is, most campsites are not open to full capacity right now, and those that are have been booked for a long time. So then we looked into back-country camping, aka dispersed camping, aka wilderness camping, which is when you can camp along a trail (but certain yards away from a trail or body of water) on public lands or national forests or wilderness areas. …? what?

So for our very first Saturday camping experience we woke up at 4 AM drove out to the Mount Evans Wilderness near Echo Lake, got out of the car with our backpacks on and…didn’t know what to do. Originally the plan was to hike up Chicago Lakes and camp somewhere near there…but firstly, we had parked at the wrong trail head. And secondly, once we were already a few miles into the day, we saw a sign that said “No Camping” even though online research had said otherwise. So back we went to our car.

Needless to say we were very, very frustrated (even though we don’t look it in that photo). After cooling down we started a new trail- Resthouse Meadows Trail. With heavy packs on our backs and already pretty beat from the rough morning, we hiked a pretty consistent incline and just prayed for some flat ground to pitch our tent on.

Fiiiinally, we found some flat ground. We pitched our tent, took a breather, and then made our way down to a stream for a refill on water.

I’ll fast forward through the rest of the afternoon. After a long nap, it was getting cold (colder than we expected), storm clouds were rolling in, Kevin had a huge headache, and we didn’t have anything to entertain us for the rest of the night or a bear box for the food. So we ended up packing up and hiking back down. The views on the way down made up for the difficult day. It was quiet, just Kevin, Otto, and myself. It was also all downhill which my body appreciated.

So our first outing wasn’t exactly overnight camping, but we did hike, eat, and fall asleep in the tent…it just was at the wrong time of day. As you can see, I was still pretty happy to be outdoors and in nature, even if it wasn’t the smoothest day ever.

I would tell you what I learned from this experience, but honestly, I’m still not sure I know very much. I definitely learned that:

  • Plans do not go as always planned
  • We need to take more snacks
  • Lighter gear Is better. I quickly purchased a new sleeping bag after this experience. Four pounds makes a huge difference!

As always, I post more to-date on my Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/lifeofmaryreyes/?hl=en

Anyway, we had a very successful camping trip after this one. But, that’s a story (and maybe a video?) that you’ll have to wait for.

Until next time,

Mary

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