Last month in Colorado, we decided to do a primitive camp. Even though I'd grown up camping almost every National Park in the states, my parents had never just driven through the mountains, picked a spot miles away from civilization, and set up camp before.
The purpose of this week in Colorado was actually a hiking trip, and we hiked about 50 miles over three days. Our biggest feat was climbing to the summit of Mt. Elbert. Last winter we began researching the trail, and what we needed to do to prepare.
We found out that if we camped on the trailhead, we'd shave some time off our hike that day. Considering Elbert is the 2nd tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, and the tallest mountain in the Rockies, we decided this was the best option. So we drove as far as we could get in our car (you need a 4WD vehicle to access this trail, period) and found a spot to call it a night.
We drove through beautiful Aspen trees so thick I could barely see through them.
This spot on the trail was far as we could get in Petey. Up ahead was a creek with huge boulders in it, and we had to stop here for the night. I was a little worried about being miles away from the nearest person, but we had no time to worry, and lots of work setting up camp before it got dark.
Camping enthusiasts, here is a quick checklist of the most important supplies to bring along if you're camping.
Don't forget to bring:
-lots of sleeping bags and blankets
The temperatures reached the 30's at night, so we packed a gaggle of warm clothes, and lots of blankets. We brought one sleeping bag to open up and lay on, and one for on top. We also brought sheets and fleece throws for extra warmth.
If your area does not allow gathering of wood (most National Parks don't) you need to bring your own. Since we were in the middle of nowhere, we were able to gather wood.
-plenty of food
We had an ice chest with sandwich meat, eggs, fruit, and juice inside. Some places we've camped have bear safety boxes to keep your food inside of. If there are bears in your area, please please please do not keep ANY food or throw scraps around your site. Recently a family was killed in Yellowstone by a bear, and it's a very reasonable threat when you're camping. We keep everything inside our car, and burn off all our scraps in the fire. If we need to wash out dishes, we walk away from our site to a stream to do so.
For cooking, you need something to make the food in. Since we did primitive camp, we made our own fire ring out of rocks, and obviously didn't have a grill to work with. We brought a cast iron skillet from home, and also have used foil packets in the past. If there is water near by, you can do dishes, but we didn't want to bother. So we brought paper plates and forks, and burned them in the fire when we were done.
Please don't forget supplies for smores. Camping is not camping without them.
-stakes for tent
It almost always rains in the mountains. We take one tarp to lay underneath our tent, and one to make a canopy above. Michael is the tent builder, and I always work inside to get our bedding and main living area ready while he works away to keep us dry at night.
Obviously you don't want to forget your tent :) We also bring a Coleman propane lantern that has been in our family for ages. Flashlights, headlamps, an air mattress, knives, and chairs come along, as well.
-gallon jugs of water
Those are your bathing needs. The gallon jugs work great for washing your hands and face when you need a quick rinse. Walk to a nearby stream if you have a bit more time.
The water was FREEZING!
The baby wipes are a less than appealing story. Primitive camp means no showers, toilets, or toilet paper. It also means that you bury your poop. Which translates to pooping in the woods. It's really not as bad as it sounds. Rest easy knowing that most people only poop once a day, especially with the kind of dense, nutritional food you eat on a hiking/camping trip. Unfortunately for me, I poop at least 3 times a day. This is why I left my modesty in Oklahoma, and bought economy size packages of baby wipes for the trip.
They come in pretty handy when you don't have showers around, and every night we camp I take a baby wipe bath. Ziplock bags just mean that you get to confine your dirty wipes to a bag until you can get to a trash can. They're not just for dirty butt purposes, either. My feet get so incredibly dusty and dirty when we camp, and I love climbing into a cozy bed with clean feet for the night.
When I have the chance I can't wait to share all the stories and pictures from this wonderful trip.
Happy camping, friends.