Our first trip should have been 4th of July weekend. Without that one it was a long summer before this camping trip! We went to Golden Gate Canyon State Park which is the closest mountain park with camping (as far as I could tell). It’s very popular for that reason, as well as being beautiful. Back in May I went through every upcoming weekend and this was the first one available. However, there were a lot of open sites when we were there from people who never showed up. Nor did anyone actually check if we were who we said we were. Interesting…
We originally planned to be up there in the afternoon but the week was rough, as it always is with a baby, so we didn’t get up there until around 8pm. Part of the problem was not knowing our campsite number because apparently I can’t read. 😛 Mommy brain got me there. First I misread the number, putting us in the wrong camp area. Once i figured that out we found the right area but didn’t know the exact number. We drove around the loop and I looked at the tags on every open site. Once we found it we were glad it was very close to parking and starting unloading.
We rented a tent from Outdoors Geek, which I highly recommend if you’re in the Denver area, or really anywhere as they will ship you the gear. We rented the Marmot Limestone 6 tent. First thing, they really needed pictures with their instructions. We figured it out, but reading a lot of small text isn’t fun when it’s quickly getting dark. My wife did a good job though and if it wasn’t for the rocky ground I think we would have gotten it looking like it should. The tent was large enough for us and our stuff and it was warm enough for the chilly mountain nights which was great. The one complaint we have is the mesh starts pretty low to the ground, leaving no real privacy without the rain-fly on. We got a little warm when trying for our Saturday afternoon nap but didn’t want to take off the fly. We’re going to test out at least two more tents before deciding on a purchase probably.
Since we got in so late we didn’t start a fire, which was good since the two bundles we bought in Golden burned very quickly and were only enough for Saturday night. Instead we had eaten before getting in and had a few snacks. Then we went to bed. Melody wore pj’s for the first time since she was 2 weeks old and grandma insisted on them. We also put her in her alpaca hat which kept her plenty warm in the sleeping bag with us. Thankfully we got a pair of pj’s in the last batch of clothes my mom sent down (literally only one pair which just fit her. lol) We slept in our clothes and were warm enough. It was down to the 40’s that night I think. The next night was a little warmer so even more comfortable.
The next morning we learned that our camp stove didn’t have the propane hookup it needed. I’m pretty sure I learned that the prior year as well and just forgot. Lesson learned there. We could have started a fire and hard boiled eggs, but instead decided to head into ‘town’ and eat. The altitude was affecting us so minimizing our efforts was a good idea. We ate at the Last Shot which was rather good and a lot of food. I recommend it for anyone in the area. When we returned we got Melody down for all of a half hour because it was too hot and she hates naps lately. Since my wife still needed to sleep I took the baby and headed to the office to use the good (aka not stinky flush) toilets. While there I saw two trails and decided to do a little hike. I have a Kelty kids carrier, but didn’t know how easy it would be to take off myself so went with the trusty Ergo baby 360 along with my new hiking poles since I can’t see my feet when she’s on my chest. It was a pretty steep trail that was all downhill at first. I turned around after about 10 minutes because I knew I’d have to go back up and the altitude had me breathing hard with exertion. Not that it takes much to do that. When we got back to the start we took the nature trail leg which is much easier. We turned around, however, when two squirrels got very angry with us and basically chased us off. I left before they physically chased after us. On that hike alone we saw 3 different types of squirrels which was cool.
That evening my wife built a very good fire. We used it to boil water to hard boil those eggs in case we wanted them in the morning. We cooked hamburgers and hot dogs and I ate one of each with baked beans that we brought. It was delicious. Then it was time for baby bed time. Once she was down, and out like a rock, I got back up and made a few smores. Sooooo good! I also cleaned up the area and partially repacked in preparation for the next morning. Right when I was just sitting and enjoying it outside Melody woke up so she came out to watch the fire for a while. She definitely enjoyed that. Oh, and in another random animal story, a hummingbird scared the crap out of my while holding her, flying really close to my head! lol That was the first hummingbird I’ve seen in the woods. Later the same thing happened to my wife. Very cool but also a bit odd.
The next morning I slowly packing things up as organized as I could be. We have two plastic tubs that hold our stuff and I knew I wouldn’t re-organize once home. I think I did a good job! I want to mention the things that were most helpful on this trip.
- Headlamps. Holy crap are these awesome. They are a must have. We got ours on sale here.
- Foam mattress. I have had only bad luck with air mattresses. I’m so glad we did this instead, even if it takes up a lot of room in the truck. It keeps us warm and is pretty comfortable. Much nicer than an air mattress.
- Collapsible water container. I wanted a good way to do dishes so tried two things. I used the small plastic container that I normally soak breastfeeding stuff in. And I got this collapsible bucket. I like that it is small but it’s hard to keep from collapsing. It might be better with more water since it wanted to collapse in, not out. Either way, the combination worked pretty well and I could use the water to douse the campfire at night.
- Refreezable bricks. These I stumbled on as an alternative to water ice that lasts for days. We bit the bullet and used three of them, plus an 8 hour ice pack, in our big cooler. In there we had a bottle of breast milk (just in case), eggs, meat, and a few drinks. While it wasn’t as cold as liquid ice, everything stayed cool and did not spoil. We used the milk last night and today so it worked well. We have them in ziplock bags to protect them further since that is mentioned in the comments.
- Go pod. This may or may not be good next year but for this year it was critical. With hard ground and rocks all over we needed a safe place to put her where she wouldn’t roll off. We’ve used this at home as well and know she likes it. She had a blast, though she didn’t tolerate being put down as well as normal since it was all so new. It was still helpful. I recommend it for people with little ones.
- Solar tent light. This was great in the tent. Clean light and I don’t have to worry about spare batteries! Hooray!
- Solar cell charger. This was even more important in hindsight. We’ll make sure this is fully charged next time and that we use it throughout instead of charging my phone using the truck and then killing the batter. lol What’s cool is both solar chargers can be charged with the headlamps if in a pinch. 🙂
- Propane lantern. There’s just no substitute for the amount of light these lanterns throw out. I have an LED lantern and it sucks in comparison. We got one for only $10 used with a hard case. It’s a great deal.
Things I need to change going forward is obviously the camp stove and finding a good source of firewood that burns longer than the stuff at the gas station. At some point our queen sized sleeping bag won’t be sufficient for our kid and she’ll need her own stuff. And we still need to find the right tent for us. Hopefully that all goes smoothly next year.
Finally, before we left I killed the battery on the truck charging my iphone. So don’t do that. Thankfully there was a group nearby who hadn’t left and who had jumper cables (mine had been stolen without me realizing it). They were super nice and played with Melody while the truck was started. It was a nice little social time at the end of a very relaxing and overall peaceful weekend. Unfortunately now it’s getting too late in the season to go again unless we brave October weather. We’ll see how we feel. The roads are rather windy heading out there so if the weather isn’t good my wife will have a panic attack. And I might as well. We do have a trip to Glenwood Springs set for my birthday in November, so if nothing else we have that.
So that’s our first camping trip. Overall, pretty well with the baby. Rookie mistakes included leaving her to play with a shoe without realizing she would eventually notice the ground and pick up a wood chip along with lots of dirt/rocks and try to chew on them. Letting her fall off the mattress and learn the hard way how hard the ground is. Not checking gear before we left. Overall we’re happy with how things went and we’re learning a bit more each time we go out. 🙂 I hope the links are helpful to all you young parents. If anyone in Colorado has recommendations for places near Denver but up in the mountains to get away for a day I appreciate it. There are so many parks it’s hard to narrow it down. It’s a good problem to have though!
A reminder that other pictures are here.