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North Sand Hills Camping

Along with wheeling the sand dunes in the North Sand Hills Recreation Area (near Walden, CO) we also dispersed camped at a beautiful site nearby, nestled within an aspen grove. It was truly picturesque, and constant ATV noise and the buzzing of many mosquitoes marred the experience only slightly. (See my other post about the area for a description of how we got there, and recommendations if you’re looking to spend the night near the dunes).

Before this trip I had called the Ranger District local to the area to inquire about fire restrictions. Campfires were still allowed, so we brought along some firewood from home (cutting up trees that are dead, fallen, and laying on the ground is OK per public forest regulations, while cutting standing trees is not allowed). As it turned out the firewood we brought burned much better than the local aspen wood, which is tough to keep burning in a campfire unless smaller/kindling-sized wood is constantly added along with it.

The Great Outdoors continued to be a good teacher and, as with every trip, we learned a few things -

The mosquitoes were super-powered. They must have been! Each mosquito had to be slapped at least three times before it died. I mean, the ONLY other time I’ve experienced mosquitoes this bad was at Chinn’s Lake in July 2013 (which I’m pretty sure is Mosquito Heaven). At the Sand Hills, here’s what we tried, what worked, and what didn’t:

- [1] We started out using Bug Protector All-Natural Bug Repellent as soon as we pulled into the campsite and started getting eaten alive. I’d picked this up at Jax Outdoors and the sales gal had told me she’d heard good things about it and it really works. Plus, it’s kid-friendly (which is what I was looking for). Ummm… it didn’t work. At all. The mosquitoes powered right through it and devoured our flesh, plus my husband said it stank (it’s “all natural”), so I dug through my Jeep storage and we moved on to the next option.

- [2] Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent – hmmm, ok. It seemed to repel the bugs, sort of. And it has a pleasant, light scent. But the mosquitoes were still biting so I pulled out a Murphy’s Naturals Weekend Sample Pack that we’d gotten from Battlbox.

- [3] Murphy’s Naturals Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks – once lit, these seemed to work if held right in front of one’s face, downwind, so that it would repel any mosquitoes buzzing around the eyes and ears. However, this leaves one’s backside unprotected and fair game for those troublesome pests. We tried poking the incense stick in the ground but the smoke was quickly blown every which way and didn’t do much good. (This smoke is not 'thick' enough to hang around and actually repel the bugs).

- [4] Murphy’s Naturals Mosquito Repellent Tea Light Candles – we also lit one of these and put it on the Jeep fender right above where we were sitting. It appeared to have zero affect on those boogers. It IS all-natural, with a pleasing light scent (actually in the woods it doesn’t seem to have much smell at all). My personal opinion is that these candles actually contain mosquito pheromones that holler, “Hey! Fresh meat over here! And, they’ve lit candles to set the mood!” Moving on…

- [5] WHAT ACTUALLY WORKED! The last option I dug out of my Jeep storage was another Battlbox item and this one actually worked – IF re-applied every 30 minutes or so. The repellent effects seemed to wear off quickly (the sales description says it lasts 12 hours, which at the Sand Hills is a joke). But, nonetheless, Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent 20% Picaridin actually worked for us in the midst of Mosquito War II, and it says it’s safe to use on the whole family. We used it on adults, an 8-year-old, and two dogs. It worked on everybody and the scent was not unpleasant. So, there ya go (and you’re welcome!).

Silky Saw safety. My husband got a little carried away cutting a dead tree for firewood with this Silky Saw. The super sharp teeth just grazed his leg (poking through his rip-stop pants -- there wasn’t even any tear in the fabric but he had a big gash by his knee that bled like crazy). We had first aid kits including gauze and a fabric wrap to keep the bandage tight. But how to keep it on? We finally found some tiny safety pins in a sewing kit we had tucked away. However, we have now added safety pins (a variety of sizes) to our first aid kits - I think they’re a must-have and useful in so many situations.

Another first aid addition. The aforementioned cut to the leg kept bleeding and hub mentioned that if we had sugar that would help clot the wound if poured upon it. We didn’t, but then I realized I had styptic powder in the dog’s bag (for use on dog wounds that don’t clot easily) so I sprinkled some on hub’s leg and it worked like a charm (and according to him didn’t hurt too badly either!). I have now added an extra container of styptic powder to our people first aid kit that I keep in my Jeep.

Scrambled eggs! Well, we had these shockproof egg storage containers for camping that are supposed to provide perfect sealing and crush resistance, but I guess off-roading a rough trail is pushing the limits -- just a bit?! Once at camp we discovered a dozen scrambled eggs all over our food… this is the second time this has happened to us so I threw in the towel. We burned the containers and egg shells and next time we’ll go with powdered eggs, or egg-whites-in-a-carton for camping.

Here's the weekend in photos -

Thanks for reading today! Here’s to many future [and fun] adventures in the Great Outdoors!

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