It’s raining, it’s pouring, I wish I was snoring. Yesterday, we found the perfect campsite. It is only $10 per night, there are only seven other campsites around us and it is located in the middle of the Rocky Mountain wilderness. We have multiple hiking trails that lead up mountains, down to fresh creeks, and along the edge of mountains so that you can see everything that is going on around you. We had scouted out the campsite the day before, only to find that it was full. We spent the night at an awful, family, pet-friendly campsite only two miles from Steamboat Springs. It was only awful, because we have become accustomed to staying in pristine wilderness, where I feel like I have to whisper at times because I don’t want to disturb the lives of the animals in the forest. This place was a different story.
|So happy to be at a quiet, woodsy campsite again|
We arrived late, which meant there were only three campsites left. Of course, this means they are also the three worst campsites. We picked campsite 122, thinking it was the best of the worst. Let me paint you a picture of the noise that surrounded us – standing at the front of our tent and looking to the left you will see the bathroom, the only bathroom in the campsite. Needless to say, it was a busy place. To the right of our tent was the playground, complete with screaming kids day and night. In front of us was a family with a barking German Shepard who was tied up the whole time and would tempt all the little kids to come play with him, but then leave the kids screaming when he would growl and try to wrestle them down. But, the loudest part of all arrived in six cars at 8:30pm and managed to squeeze into the two remaining campsites. A family of no less than 30 barreled out of their vehicles ready to celebrate someone’s daughter’s Quinceañera. We were in the midst of getting to know a great couple from Austria when we watched the family arrive and we both looked at one another and laughed, knowing it was probably going to be a long night. They were familiar with such noise, as they have been traveling across the U.S. in their Volkswagen van. They had encountered quite a few crazies in their countless nights parked in Walmart parking lots. Their van is the greatest way to travel across the country. The top pops up for a sleeping area, it has a cooking stove built into the body and it gets 30 miles per gallon.
The night at the pet-friendly campsite made us realize how much we wanted stillness once more in our lives, so we packed up our tent early the next morning and drove into the mountains, back to the campsite that had been full the day before. Lucky for us, there was a beautiful empty campsite waiting for us when we arrived. It was the first time on this entire trip when we knew where we were going to sleep for the night before sunset. It felt great. We nestled our tent between a few tall pines, started a campfire and relaxed. After a delicious lunch we started to explore the trails around our mountain. Twenty minutes in we had already spotted two moose, a mother and her baby, filling up on grass near the creek. I have never seen a moose before and to have seen one in the wild was incredible. We watched the two of them for quite a while before we started hiking once again. The mountainside was in it’s prime. There were flowers everywhere we looked, violet, yellow, white, blue. The flowers were scattered amongst thick forests of birch trees. The colors looked painted into the landscape against the white trunks of the trees.
|Chase had way too much fun chopping wood|
After our walk we had a magical hour back at our campsite. Chase wrote a few lovely and scary poems, I did yoga and we settled on a plan for dinner. Our magical hour came to an abrupt end when we felt the first drops of rain, just as we were chopping the carrots. We decide to scratch our dinner plan and head into town, hoping the rain would be short lived. After a delicious Tex-Mex meal we left town and went to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs, the best hot springs I have ever experienced. There were multiple pools of mineral waters that ranged in temperature from lake water to boiling hot. We tested them all and felt like we had discovered the best place on Earth. When it started to get dark, clothing became optional. We opted to keep our clothes on and felt a little prudish watching all the naked people wandering in and out of the pools. The minerals in the water made our skin and hair feel healthy and clean. It was so peaceful that I didn’t even squirm too much when I would step into a weedy, algae patch of ground. As the temperature of the air cooled down, the steam from the pools rose and engulfed us in a ghost like fog. At one point, we looked up the waterfall behind us and saw two deer drinking from the pool. We left the pool just after 10 when a game of naked Marco Polo broke out and we were a little worried about what our hands might touch under the water with so many people darting back and forth.
We fell asleep in our tent warm, clean and relaxed. As dawn started to break this morning, we heard the rain begin to fall. We kept falling asleep, hoping it would stop, but it only rained harder. As we dashed from our tent to the car in search of our rain gear, we were uncertain if our car would make it back down the dirt-road that leads up the mountain. Since I am sitting here in the library writing this, it means we did make it down the mountain. But, we are still hoping that we will make it back up to our tent today.
|Clothing optional hot springs|