We ventured out to the Carson National Forest for the weekend to test our new gear. Upon arriving at the parking lot, I decided I had not packed enough clothing. We doubled back to Red River to get another flannel shirt, like a couple of tourists.
As we geared up, a few folks from Arkansas thought, “What a bunch of yuppies, girl with short hair, man with long hair”, until I strapped on the revolver. Then we had lots to talk about. We chatted for a few minutes, and they snapped a picture of us before we headed up the mountain.
This was a good “get back into camping” trail- a slight climb, but only around 3 miles in and 3 miles out. It was not too strenuous, and the gear worked out pretty well.
This camping trip was almost entirely in heavy tree cover.
I was pleased that the Garmin e-Trex was able to see the satellites. It only lost feed for a few minutes on the way up. On the way down, the GPS made a more solid connection, and we didn’t lose satellite feed at all. This may have been due to the rain bending the leaves down out of the way. When I got home, I was able to plot the elevation change:
Within the first half a mile or so, we crossed Sawmill Creek. In the creek were some Queen Anne’s Lace that were gigantic. When I was a kid in Maryland, we had Queen Anne’s Lace growing in our yard, but never as big as these:
Sawmill Creek itself was a thin stream that ran slowly nearby. It looked like it ran all year round, and reminded me of many of the streams I saw growing up in Maryland. We crossed over it twice along our trek. My pictures are blurry as there was not enough light when I was taking these photos.
The sun was setting fast, and we walked the last mile or so after dark. The hardest part of the trail was squeezing under a few downed trees and snaking through a livestock-proof fence. My bag was too big, so in both cases, I had to remove my bag and slide through separately from the bag.
We set up our campsite in the dark without too much difficulty. The 6V flashlight was more than enough to light up the ground and find a decent spot for a tent. The tent was easy to set up, as we had done that many times before.
My sleeping bag was not as warm as advertised. I was cold throughout the night, which was disappointing. The sleeping pad was uncomfortable, but that was due to operator error. I forgot to close the valve that kept it inflated- it was self-inflating, but you have to close the valve to keep the air in place. Instead, it deflated, placing my hip directly on a rock. Between it and the tight, uncomfortable, cold sleeping bag, I did not sleep much. I am anxious to try the bag sometime with the sleeping pad properly inflated.
The next morning, I snapped a few pictures around the camp site. The site we camped was called “Sawmill Park”
For breakfast, I heated up some beef jerky, carrots, celery and onions in a cup over my small camp stove. I had dehydrated them a few days earlier, and they reconstituted nicely in the hot water. It was a much more substantial meal than I had expected, and I did not feel weak or shaky the whole day.
The way back was rainy and semi-nasty, but not too bad. I never bothered putting on my rain gear. We started out under mostly cloudy skies with some breaks for sunlight. This photo was taken on a bridge over Sawmill Creek before it began to rain, but it shows the approximate size of the creek.
Overall, most of the gear behaved as advertised. The backpack was great, except I kept packing it somewhat lopsided. It would lean to one side. However, my back and shoulders remained comfortable the entire time. The camelback served its purpose perfectly, and the extra insulated straw was neat- it kept the water at a different temperature than the rest of the bag, which was unexpected. I could see how it would help to use this during winter camping to keep the straw from freezing shut. The only disappointment was the sleeping bag, and it was something I could get used to. It was not super warm, and the zipper arrangement made it difficult to get in and out of, but I think with a little work, or a sleeping bag liner, it would be comfortable. I felt a little claustrophobic in it, but I would get used to that, and it would certainly help keep me warm on a colder camping trip.
So ends the summary of my first “back to camping” trip.