11 September 2021
A lot has changed in everyone’s lives in the last year or two, but one thing that’s stayed the same is the Great Outdoors. The backcountry still brings a tremendous amount of beauty, peace, and health into our lives when we spend time in the fresh air. We haven’t camped much the past three seasons but we did manage to get out once each summer.
Dispersed camping near Red Feather Lakes in 2020; Inergy flexible solar panels work well when tied up off the ground
In July 2019 we dispersed camped along one of our very favorite (and easy) trails with a view of Taylor Mountain. We’ve camped here before, although in a different location along the trail. Our previous spot is blocked off to vehicles now, so we opted for another very quiet location off a spur from the main trail.
Camping amongst the trees on the Bright/Taylor Mountain Trail
There wasn’t another soul for as far as we could see or hear. There’s something about the intense quiet and the clean air and the mountain wind that just erases the stressors of daily life back home. This was well before the pandemic began; little did we know what was soon to come.
For three gorgeous days the kids worked in the woods collecting dead branches for firewood. They practiced their sawing skills and later relaxed in the kids’ tepee (courtesy of a past Battlbox).
A great camp job for kids is collecting dead wood for the fire!
Practicing with a Silky Saw - parent-supervised.
Kids love their own space and it's worth the effort to set up a cool tepee in the woods!
A short hike during the day resulted in That View!
The infamous Taylor Mountain view - with nobody around for MILES and MILES!
And, the dogs had a great time in the woods as always!
Our two furry boys...
After that trip it was back to life and all the usual stuff and of course by late 2019 the pandemic was on the horizon. Fast forward to the summer of 2020 with lockdowns, limitations on backcountry access, and social distancing. We had a small group of friends with whom we socialized and in July 2020 we all headed to the Red Feather Lakes area to dispersed camp off a well-maintained county road.
Charging the Inergy solar battery/generator during the day with their flexible panels, tied between the Jeeps due to wind.
Our full bred Shepherd had undergone an amputation in April 2020 due to cartilage cancer in his knee. The surgery was a success and he was, and is, doing great! The July ‘20 camping trip was his first time in the woods as a “tripawd.”
Our tripawd's first camp trip post surgery.
Prior to this trip we had invested in a solar generator/battery by Inergy and a large collapsible and flexible solar panel setup. The biggest positive was that we were able to take hub’s C-PAP machine along (he has severe sleep apnea) and power it with the battery, thereby giving ALL of us much better sleep this trip!
Inergy solar generator battery
Unfortunately at the end of this trip my hub herniated a disc in his cervical spine and then spent a few months recovering and completing PT. Additionally, the Cameron Peak Fire started in August and lasted almost four months, so our 2020 camp season was cut short.
No special effects here - our backyard at high noon looked like twilight due to the thick smoke of the nearby Cameron Peak Fire.
Year 2021 dawned with high hopes across the country but for many has brought further challenges. We had big plans to get back to the woods multiple times this summer, but an emergency surgery I had in May required strict recovery until mid-July. Then other plans took precedence and we finally got a camp trip in over Labor Day weekend. This trip was a new experience as we camped with friends at Beaver Meadows Campground near Red Feather Lakes. This was our first time camping in a reserved space – for a fee of course. We’re so used to driving out into the wilderness and picking a spot, but the friends with whom we camped have campers and all our usual dispersed camping spots that were accessible to our camper-friends had burned the fall of 2020.
Beaver Meadows provides rustic, yet very clean, outhouses throughout their camping areas.
Beaver Meadows was lovely and almost felt like being out in the remote forest. Each camp site is in the trees, but “neighbor” campers are nearby and there was lots of music, barking dogs, and the peace and quiet I associate with the backcountry was scarce this trip.
Nonetheless, this trip was better than not getting out at all and we were able to take the kids and dogs on some fun hikes.
Beaver Meadows has established fire pits with seating options.
I'm looking forward to next year's camp season, and I’m hoping I can find/make the time to write more on this blog again. Thank you to all who still read it, and thank you to all of you who have emailed me periodically over the past year or two.
I hope all of you are doing okay in life, still enjoying the Great Outdoors, and getting out on the trails when you can!
by Dawn Gallegos
Dawn Gallegos is the founding editor of the Chicks On The Rocks blog. When she's not working to fund her Jeep habit she's thinking up new ways to inspire others to explore the great outdoors!