Category Archives: Camping

Stories from our backpacking adventures.

Half Moon Creek Backpack

With summer in full swing, it was time to strap on the backpacks. We chose the Mount Massive Wilderness near Leadville, partly for the destination of a high alpine lake, and partly because we haven’t camped in this area yet.

The drive in was a bit hair raising at times. We hadn’t planned on it, but the road to the trailhead put our car through one of it’s biggest tests yet. The machine pulled through with flying colors, even making a couple of people on ATVs pause to watch us climb a particularly treacherous spot.

The hike up Half Moon Creek

The hike was only 2.5 miles, but unfortunately we got off to a late start. We didn’t make it to the trail head until almost 5:00. This being our first backpack of the summer, and having a fairly steady climb up the valley, we ran out of daylight to make it to the lake. We set up camp about half a mile down the hill, in a pretty spot tucked into the trees.

The view from Half Moon Lake

Fire bans are in effect across most of the state, so no camp fire on this trip. The weather was chilly after the sun went down, but still pleasant for a high country camp. We had our standard freeze dried dinner, complete with a dessert (cinnamon apple crisp!) and some cheese and crackers. Then settled in for the night.

In the morning, we hiked up to the lower lake, which is set in a gorgeous alpine cirque tucked up against the west side of Mount Massive. We spent some time cooling off in the lake, before heading back to camp for lunch. After that, it was time to pack up and head back down the mountain.

Camping on French Creek

We had another nice weather weekend, so we decided to drive up along the Georgia Pass road in search of a dispersed camp site. We needed our off-road ability again, as all of the sites near the road were taken by 2:00 on Friday. Luckily, we were up to the challenge!

We found a nice site down a steep path leading to French Creek, about a mile off of the road. It was secluded, and had just enough views of the surrounding mountains. Unfortunately a fire ban had been put in place so we were not able to observe most of the car camping traditions (no s’mores), but we still had a great weekend.

On Saturday we hiked up the trail towards French Pass. About 3 miles in, Evan declared that he was going no further. Try as we might to coax him along, he simply wasn’t budging. So we called it a day and hiked back to the trailhead. All in all, it was a nice location that is easy to reach from the Denver metro. I’m sure we’ll try this one again.

Clear Creek Boondock

With a warm three day weekend ahead of us, it was finally time to head out into the mountains for a camping weekend. I hiked up the Clear Creek Four-Wheel Drive road to the Lake Anne trail last summer. Along the way I saw a lot of potential car camping sites within the national forest, if we only had a vehicle that could handle the trail. With our new car, we finally had the opportunity.

It is still May, so the fear of potentially sub-freezing nights drove us to limit the stay to one night. Still, the prospect of getting out of town and spending a couple of days in the mountains seemed worth the effort.

When we bought our car, a lot of people asked why we wanted the air suspension and off-road package. After all, who would be crazy enough to take an SUV like this “off road”. We’re certainly far from extreme off-roaders, but a road like this is precisely the reason we wanted the extra capability. The video below is a sample of what the 4 miles up and down looked like.

We were not the only family looking to get away during the COVID constraints. The forest was busy – as busy as I’ve ever seen. But, thanks to the ability to get past where the typical family truckster could venture, we ended up at a reasonably secluded spot with fantastic views.

We camped in a meadow near the edge of Clear Creek. Not much for tree cover, but it provided excellent visibility to what we hoped would be some fine star gazing. The Milky Way core becomes visible late at night, with the rim of the galaxy almost 90 degrees overhead in the late spring months of the northern hemisphere. We set an alarm for a 3am wake-up call, and the entire family jumped at the opportunity. I’m not a skilled astrophotographer, but hopefully the picture below conveys the incredible view.

On Saturday we hiked part of the Mt. Huron trail. The family was split on whether to attempt to summit the 14,000 peak. By the time we broke treeline, our decision was made for us. We say the storm clouds rolling in, and heard the thunder rumbling through the valley below. Time for a quick descent back to camp.

This wasn’t exactly the most extreme mountain adventure, but I think it bodes well for the summer of 2020. We’re looking forward to several more excursions before the snow flies again!

Hiking the Abyss

I normally call an end to the backpacking season by early September. This year the weather seemed to nice I decided to try one more night with the aspens starting to change. I chose the Abyss trail on the west side of the Mount Evans wilderness area for it’s easy access and what I hoped would lead to some stunning scenery.

I didn’t have much time to research the area, so I was constantly on the lookout for decent camp sites. I came across one I liked just about 3 miles up the trail and decided to settle in. I ended up wishing I had kept pushing up the trail, as I’m sure the views near treeline would have been fantastic, but as you can see it was a pretty nice location.