On the hike up Cedar Mountain
This post is happening a work week later than I had planned on but hey! that means I’ve actually had work to do at work this week… gasp! As my workload has dwindled today, here’s the recap finally.
Summer is officially here! (I don’t care what the calendar says.) Travis and I went camping Memorial Day weekend for the first time of the year. Our friend Randy’s family has some property down there so we got to stay there for free. Sahweet! Their land is rented from the Lutheran Valley Ranch so there were quite a few other people there besides us, but the land plots are so big (5-6 acres) that it’s definitely not a campground feel. BUT there is a Ranch House with running water and toilets (very much appreciated). I may advocate tents over campers for the feeling of camping, but I definitely do not advocate peeing outside over inside (at least for women).
After a couple of long, hectic weeks, Travis and I decided to leave for camping Saturday morning, which was definitely the right decision. We got a lot accomplished Friday night in preparation for leaving (loading the truck, grocery shopping, laundry, an episode of Bones) and still didn’t leave our house until 8:30 Saturday morning.
As we went through Colorado Springs, Travis asked to stop and take some pictures of a culvert. No, that’s not weird. It’s for his job. And he enjoys it. In return, I asked to stop and get a chicken biscuit from Chick-Fil-A. No, that’s not weird. I’m always thinking about food. Especially chicken biscuits from Chick-Fil-A.
- Our cooking setup
Then we continued on up into the mountains, arriving at our campsite around 11:00. After setting up our tent, sleeping bags, and eating lunch, we took a short nap with the pooches in the tent and then went on a hike suggested by Randy up Cedar Mountain. There are no signs at the trailhead for the hikes in this area, so we had to drive into the Retreat Center and ask someone who worked there where the trail was. Their directions were just as nebulous but we did end up finding the trail.
The first 30 minutes were very easy. But once we got to where the switchbacks started, things only got harder. Randy had told us it was like rock climbing in some areas and during this part of the hike, I was sort of laughing at him because it wasn’t at all as steep as I had expected “rock climbing” to be. That’s because we hadn’t gotten to that part yet…
When we finally did, I was skeptical as to whether we could actually get the dogs up such slopes. We ended up having to have one of us go up partway while the other stood at the bottom. We’d call the dogs up the slope and as they got their running start but didn’t *quite* make it to the top, the person at the top would grab them and pull them the rest of the way. Then there was another part where Charlie was too scared and wanted to go back down but I just grabbed her and carried her for a little bit. She was a trooper, though, for this having been her first hike ever.
But then we found ourselves faced with a ladder and decided that it wasn’t worth trying to carry the pooches up and down that. So we turned around after Travis climbed to the top and took some pictures. He offered that I could climb up while he waited with the dogs but I started up the ladder and then decided I was ok. I’m not huge into steep, technical hiking. Plus, he said the views were pretty much the same at the top as where I was. Settled.
When we got back to our campsite, it was about 4:00 – too early for dinner. Travis cracked open a beer and I brewed some coffee. Both beverages were soon abandoned due to an emergency: Katy and Charlie got quilled by a porcupine.We had been letting them run around off their leashes and being dogs, they kept going far enough that we lost sight of them. After calling them back several times, we wondered, maybe it’s ok to just let them run? They wouldn’t go too far… which was true. That didn’t mean they wouldn’t get into trouble though.
But as I took my first sip of coffee, we heard barking. Crap, we thought, they’re barking at one of the neighbors and annoying the crap out of them. Lazily and mostly annoyed, we walked in the direction of the barking, calling for the pooches to come. They didn’t.
Until we heard them yelp and then emerge with snouts covered in what appeared to porcupine quills. Katy was making gasping and choking noises and Charlie seemed to mostly ok. We ran back to our campsite and got out the pathetic plastic tweezers from our first aid kit. They were completely useless. Luckily, Travis had some pliers so he got those out and while he sat on Katy and I helped hold her mouth open, we pulled those quills out. Poor Katy – she had probably a couple hundred quills in her lips, on the roof of her mouth, in her gums, on her tongue. Every quill pulled out brought blood and made her wiggle trying to break free from our grip. She did really well, though, considering the circumstances.
Charlie’s condition wasn’t nearly as bad. She had 25-30 quills, mostly in her gums and lips as well. But she did not like getting the quills ripped out one bit. She thrashed and whined and wriggled so much that Travis had to literally sit on her with all his weight.
After one more switch in instruments (forceps worked the best), we were finally done – both with pulling quills out and with letting the dogs run around off their leashes. We didn’t need to deal with that anymore.By that time, it was time for dinner so Travis started a fire and we put some brats, asparagus, and baked beans on the grate over the fire. (Note to self: Defer to Travis in all matters related to cooking on the fire or grill.) After a walk around the lake near the Ranch House and some wine/beer and s’mores, we retired to bed at the hour of 9 pm.The flapping tent
But it was next to impossible to sleep. When we first went to bed, it was dead silent except for these god-awfully loud crickets that seemed to be in my eardrums. I couldn’t stand it so I got out my iPod and put on some sleepy tunes. That helped and within 20 minutes or so, I was falling asleep.
Only to be awaken around 3 am by the howling wind and constantly flapping tent. After that, every time I was almost dropping off, the wind would pick up and send our tent flap a-flappin’ and wake me up.
Travis also had a hard time sleeping. At first, he couldn’t get to sleep because he was worried about bears. After he got up and hung our garbage bag in a tree a ways from our tent, he figured he’d be able to go to sleep. No such luck. Because that was when the wind picked up and then he laid awake worrying about a tree falling on our tent. Ay-ay-ay.
The next morning, the pooches woke up at 7 am. I took them on a nice little morning walk, drank some coffee, and spent time in the Word while Travis tried to sleep a bit longer. At 9 am, he finally got up and we made breakfast. After washing dishes and grooming, we headed out for the hike we were thinking about doing down a drainage that led to the South Platte River. But we were prevented by two words: ATV Mecca. There were so many ATV-ers out and about that we decided to not do the trail we had been thinking of (not with two pooches off leashes). So after an hour spent driving around on eroded, extremely bumpy dirt roads getting our brains scrambled, we retreated to another hike Randy had told us about.
Like the previous hike, there was no sign for the trail leading to the ‘Stone Cabin’ and the directions we had from Randy were pretty vague. We started out walking on what appeared to be a trail but quickly vanished into nothingness. There was a trail on the other side of the stream but we had seen ATVs on it as we started out and that was exactly what we were trying to avoid. So we kept walking. After about .75 mile of hiking through the woods seeing no sign of a Stone Cabin, we started getting pinched out of the drainage and decided to head up the slope and walk the ridge back.
As we were sitting on a downed tree trunk eating trail mix and PB&J sandwiches, we heard voices. Hmmm, we thought, the ATV trail must not be that far away. Come to realize, those voices were coming from above us – a group of 4-5 people were coming down from the peak about 200’ above us. We decided to ask the people if they knew where the Stone Cabin was. They did! After giving us some more vague directions (“Follow this trail and turn right”) and encouraging us to check out the view from up top, they left and we hiked up to the top
.As typical with any peak (and especially so that day since the wind from the previous night had not let up but continued to blow at gusts of 30-40 mph), it was incredibly windy at the top but it was gorgeous. A panoramic point if I ever saw one.
We continued on our journey to find the Stone Cabin, not really sure we knew where we were going. But then we reached a T in the trail and the directions those people had given us made sense. The detour to the Stone Cabin only took us about 35 minutes of hiking time and was definitely worth it – I love seeing old cabins like that tucked back in the middle of nowhere. To think that someone actually lived there!
Finally, we were headed back. When we got back to our campsite, we fed the pooches and then put them in their kennel because they were both exhausted. Every time we had stopped during our hike, they both found shady spots and lie down.
Travis and I were also tired so we went into our tent and read our books for a while. The wind was still ferocious (I swear, it had to have been 50 mph at times) and our tent was still flapping and we had had it up to here, so we decided to eat our dinner of white bean chili and beer bread sitting in the cab of our truck, just to escape the wind momentarily. That was when Randy showed up. He and Travis were going to go fishing on Monday while I went back to Denver with the pooches.
After helping Randy get settled, we sat around and talked in the wind and the dark (no campfire when it’s so windy), ate some uncooked s’mores, and went to bed around 9 pm again. Pooches slept in their kennel that night because the bottom zipper on our tent door broke and we didn’t want to have to deal with them trying to sneak out at night.Though it was still very windy that night, I slept a LOT better than the night before. Travis did too, once he got up to rig the tent flap to stop flapping. (So that’s why it was so quiet!) Morning came very early though, at 6:15 am.
After a breakfast of burritos and coffee (provided by Randy), we packed up camp and headed out. Travis and Randy went camping and I and the pooches went home. Traffic wasn’t bad at all and I got home by 11:00. I unloaded all the coolers, totes, pooches and bags; put everything away; cleaned out the coolers; watered the garden and landscaping; did the dishes; took a shower; and then read a bit until I fell asleep for a sweet hour-and-a-half nap.
I ended up going grocery shopping and doing laundry later that night but overall, it was a pretty chill evening. We got dinner from Sonic (chili cheese tots for me, popcorn chicken for Travis) and then rented Knight and Day from Redbox.
Then Monday, it was back to the work grind. (But I actually had work to do, so it wasn’t too bad!)
Note: WordPress won’t let me insert any more photos without dismantling my text so I will post more pictures in a separate post.