It’s Wednesday and 5 O’Clock hits, I rushed out of work to my truck and made a speedy drive home back to the house. I wasn’t heading home quickly to make dinner, I wasn’t late for a meeting and wasn’t in trouble with the girlfriend. I was in a hurry to set out on a mid-week, one night camping trip to the mountains!
I’ll be honest here. I didn’t partake in too much camping while living in Michigan but ever since I moved out to Colorado camping has been a top priority on the “to-do” list. There is just something about these mountains that pulls you in and when the mountains call, you can’t say no. This would be something exciting and new for me because I had never camped in the mountains or quite frankly, outside of a state park or campground in general. After settling in to our new place for the past month and a half we finally had some free time to get out and enjoy a mid-week camping excursion!
It was a rushed job from the start and we are still building up our camping supplies so we weren’t exactly prepared with all of the necessary items. We packed a cooler, threw in some blankets, pillows, a mattress topper, chairs, and a tent and we were off.
If you are looking for a spectacular place to camp that is in close proximity to Eagle Colorado, I suggest you take a look at Sylvan Lake. It is a beautiful lake for fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding surrounded by numerous hiking trails and campsites. We decided not to stay at the state park but instead we chose to head further up the mountain to find a secluded spot in the wilderness. The area surrounding the lake is national forest so you can camp anywhere for free and it is much more enjoyable to get away from other people.
We Arrived At Our Spot
By the time we arrived at a campsite it is pushing 7PM so we need to act fast to get everything set up and ready before nightfall. We borrowed an REI tent and it was surprisingly easy to set up even for the first time user. Although this tent is no longer available, REI really does make great outdoor products with high quality materials and are extremely easy to use. You should have no problem finding a similar tent based on your needs. We used the REI 4, check out the link here: REI Hobitat 4 Camping Tent
After camp was pretty much set up firewood was next on the agenda because we couldn’t locate a source back in town. The only problem we had was that we forgot a good handsaw to make it easier to gather the dead trees laying on the ground. Everything had to be broke off by hand, so it made gathering wood more physical than I expected.
Important Items Not To Be Forgotten Next Time
Hand-Saw: A small, compact handsaw is ideal for cutting dead limbs and logs. Breaking everything off by hand and snapping long pieces into “fire size” lengths is a lot of work and can be quite dangerous.
First Aid Kit: The mountains are treacherous and you can easily roll an ankle, fall down steep terrain, cut yourself on a number of objects, get burned by the fire, etc.
Survival Kit: We didn’t have any rope, signaling devices, extra matches, additional blankets and a compass or GPS.
Hand Gun: We forgot to bring our handgun for personal protection at night. Bears and mountain lions are known to roam the area .
The Remainder of the Evening
After we had the fire going, it was nice to sit down and enjoy the beautiful evening with my girlfriend Crystal and her dog Apollo. Bratwursts cooked over the open fire were on the menu accompanied by chips and salsa and s’mores! Of course it would only be right to enjoy a few Bonfire Brewing Co beers around a bonfire! After dinner we went for a quick walk to explore the immediate area and then came back to enjoy the rest of the evening around the campsite.
The Perks Of Camping In The Mountains
The nice thing about having a fire on the side of a mountain is that the wind is always going down hill; traveling in one direction. Thermals travel down the mountainside as temperatures cool making the evening more enjoyable because you can position your chairs and tent accordingly. In Michigan, the wind is constantly changing directions and it causes you to adjust your seat every few minutes and can result in holes burned in your camping equipment.
I read a book recently titled Wilderness Survival and it highlighted an important aspect of making camp in the mountains. You don’t want to make camp at the bottom of a valley because cold air settles in the lowest elevation. The top of a mountain is also not an ideal location because of the gusting winds flowing over the top.
The optimal location is located in between; Not too high but but not too low. The wind is consistent but not too heavy. The air is cool but not frigid and it blows at a constant 3mph.
Like a soft whisper in your ear, the wind was faint but was certainly present.
Camping Trip Re-Cap
The mid-week excursion was an exciting endeavor and I can’t wait to do it again. Was it a little rushed and were we a little un-prepared? Yes, but this is how you learn. Sometimes it is best to jump in head first and learn from your mistakes and how you can improve for next time.
Have you ever went camping during the work week before? Share your spontaneous camping stories and tips below in the comments! I would love to hear from you!