We went camping! It was my first time camping as the ‘responsible adult’. I’ve been camping as a kid and it was awesome, my responsibilities never exceeded packing my favorite book, occasionally baiting a hook and … … that’s it.
Being the ‘responsible adult’ was a little worrisome. Did we pack enough food and water? How do we find a place to camp? What happens if we encounter a BEAR?! (no so much a worry in KS) Where do we put the food & trash away to avoid raccoons and other mischievous rodents?
Let me say I was over thinking it. Waaay over thinking it. It’s not that hard or complicated. I’d say the most difficult thing about my first grown-up camping trip was finding a spot that made everyone happy. Jake & I didn’t want to be surrounded by people and we wanted a great view. More google searching that necessary led me to Rampart Range Road. Rumored to be beautiful with plenty of trails and they allow ‘dispersed camping’.
I had no idea what ‘Dispersed Camping’ was so I called the Forest Ranger Station. (WOW! Those folks are amazingly friendly, helpful and seriously funny!) Dispersed camping is where you drive down the road and just pull off wherever you’d like to set up camp. Free. AWESOME! I was imagining just pulling off the road and being like “Here’s my flag, I’m declaring this as mine for the weekend!”
Not so much. There are specific places the parks department has set aside, flattened, cleared and numbered off. The concept is still the same: Pull off the road, steak a section as yours and camp but it’s more convenient with less bushwhacking.
The downside to this experience is we live in Colorado. Where everyone wants to camp for free on the weekends. Out of 39 dispersed spots there was only 1 left when Jake & I hit the road. It was quickly snatched up by the Jeep in front of us; we were car #3 in a line of 5 on Friday afternoon at 3. So instead of the freebee sites we pulled into the Devil’s Head Campground.
WOWZERS! Great views, a picnic table, grill and a fire pit were all provided. As well as water, a bear proof trash bin and a port-a-john. All for just $16 a night. Not bad! PLUS when you claim a site no one else can come up and camp in your claimed spot; not the case with Dispersed Camping, if you pick a site and someone else wants to park their tent 10 feet away they will.
We grabbed our permit, picked a spot for our tent and got busy setting up.
The tent went up without a hitch. We bought a bundle of firewood at the grocery store before we left town in the event we couldn’t find any. With that we started a fire (by we I mean Jake and our friend, not me) and got the bratwursts and hotdogs going. YUM!
The only hardship, after finding a campsite, was sleeping on Friday night. I brought our air mattress and since we’re one sleeping bag short of a pair I pulled a ‘glamping’ stunt and dressed it like a regular bed, sheets, quilt and used the sleeping bag as a comforter. In Kansas this would’ve been well warm enough on a day that hit 90+, not the case in Colorado where the humidity is null and the heat leaves when the sun sets. It was COLD! The air was so frigid in our mattress it felt like we were sleeping on an ice block.
Saturday night I put 3 beach towels across the top of that ice block of a bed and the difference was astonishing. We slept much better – that could also be because we didn’t hit the sack til after midnight.
Saturday morning we warmed up some of Jake’s delicious breakfast burritos (made at home & wrapped in foil, zipped in a bag, left on ice in the cooler) and used the french press for coffee. I wasn’t about to go 2 days without it!
Of course there is always room for s’mores!
Sunday morning we had bagels & cream cheese, took down the tent and headed home.
This wasn’t really an adventurous camping experience, it was more of an informational gathering ‘can we do this?’ and ‘what gear do we need’ kind of trip. In all actuality for me it was a ‘be surrounded by nature and relax’ weekend. Which was much needed and so refreshing.