The last morning at my Crestone Hipcamp was simple enough. I ate some breakfast, drank some coffee and began the process of packing up. The cookware and tubs had to be accounted for. The air mattress and the bedding. The clothes and toiletries. Finally the tent itself and the tarp underneath. Camping and "roughing it" are fairly effortless to me after so many Burning Mans. And while I no longer actively desire to attend a Burning Man, I remain so grateful for its lifelong lessons of taking the suffering that can sometimes go along with camping in stride.
I headed out fairly early because I'd booked a 9am massage at a local hot springs. I got there at 8:15 or so and after a much-needed shower (I hadn't had one in three days after all!), I put on my swimsuit and soaked in the Joyful Journey Hot Springs until my massage therapist called for me.
The 90-minute massage was 'meh, okay' at best but who was I to complain. In the moment, I was glad to finally have the putrid mix of sweat and mosquito repellent washed off and someone massaging my sore muscles after that ten mile hike a couple days before. After the massage I soaked a little more in the springs and then headed back to my car for the cooler and bag of food. I made a picnic lunch, which I ate solo in the courtyard of the hot springs compound. Soon enough, I was off to my next destination: Golden Gate Canyon State Park.
The drive North through Colorado was gorgeous. Totally beautiful, with easy-to-drive highways and drivers who seemed a lot nicer than where I come from. My destination was Golden Gate Canyon State Park. I'd found it simply by searching places near Denver to camp. I didn't want to spend much time in the city, preferring instead to maximize the camping and hiking time during my vacation.
I arrived to the park late afternoon and after stopping at the Visitor's Center to grab a map and get oriented, I headed on to my campsite: Aspen Meadows. It's a walk-in camping area, meaning you have to park and haul your stuff to your site. On the way is a lookout for viewing the Continental Divide:
When I arrived at Aspen Meadows, I observed that luckily my campsite was somewhat near the parking lot. But still, it took about five loads to haul everything by foot to the tent pad I'd reserved. I set up my tent amongst the tall trees of the forest. I had a few neighbors and while I could hear them, they weren't really near me. I made some hot tea and settled in to rest. I read some of my Tara book I'd purchased in Santa Fe. At some point I ate dinner. It would be yet another evening when I would go to bed super early.
The next morning I was up before all my neighbors. It had been so, so, so cold in the overnight that I could barely sleep. I'd tucked my head under the covers and kept myself warm with my breath. I was in every layer I had and still I was freezing cold. In the end, it was nothing coffee and hot oatmeal couldn't fix. Soon enough I was off on a hike. A gorgeous hike.
After several miles of trail and about four hours of hiking, I was back at my campsite just as some folks were setting off! I ate some ramen and made some tea and decided what to do next. I'd looked at the forecast and saw rain was coming so I carefully packed my tent and its contents to accommodate a rain shower or two while I was away. Better safe than sorry! It's the worst to come back to a soaked sleeping bag. After lunch and packing it was onwards to Denver for the afternoon. I had set up a coffee date with an old Burning Man friend at 3 o'clock.
And man oh man was it good to see Delay! (His Burner name.) We grabbed turmeric lattes and headed to a big, glorious park that's walking distance from his house. We sat on a bench and talked and talked and caught up about all the things. The two of us were thick as thieves at the Burns we shared. He's quite a bit younger than me and I could tell that he's really grown up in the few years since my last Burn (2015). He does fancy coding stuff for graphs for Bitcoin investors. Or something. He tried to explain it to me but my inner-85-year-old-woman just couldn't process what the hell he was trying to tell me. Whatever, he's happy doing it and if he's happy, I'm happy for him. Truly.
After that I had dinner with a former co-worker in his beautiful Denver home. (An internet shy former co-worker so I won't post pics here.) It was so lovely to catch up and soon enough I was heading back to my campsite at the state park.
Sure enough, it had rained while I was gone for the afternoon. Quite a bit by the looks of things. Fortunately, I'd packed my gear neatly and everything was dry as a bone. Phew! It wasn't as cold this time and sleep was a bit more restful.
Periodic updates from Aurah in the Field.