6:00 AM. I'm a little chilly. I had bought a fleece sleeping bag liner for a sleeping bag so I could have low bulk as well as low weight in my pack. Vicki sent a fleece blanket along with me, which I took, and suggested I bring my winter riding tights to wear under my flannels ... which I didn't. Should've listened to her. Wasn't miserable, just a little uncomfortable. I can hear Mark chopping wood. I had woken up at 3:30 and it was clear and the moon was shining. And cold.
I hear Mark chopping wood in the background. I'm ready to get up. Nice fire... pot of coffee... yeah.... Everything is wet, which is both good and bad. Good because the danger of starting a forest fire is pretty much nil this morning, and bad because the ease of starting a campfire is pretty low. After a bit of frustration with pine needles, matches and wood splinters, we whip out the isopropyl alchohol I brought along for washing and "aftershave". Well... that takes care of getting a fire started. The partiers tents are still up the hill. Chuck and Kelly left last night when they saw the boys getting back together for another night of rudeness. The two ladies and their kids who were camped about 50 yards from us were getting up. Man the baby cried a LOT. Somehow, untypically of me, I was able to tune it out. Somehow, untypically of Mark, he couldn't. Oh well. The "caretaker" tromped through the campgrounds down the hill. We had coffee and a breakfast of granola and protien bars. Then headed down to the creek to wash and maybe to find another campsite. If the boys were coming back Saturday night for a re-schedule.... we didn't want to be there. Too bad the rudest can drive everyone else out like that. We washed in the stream - COLD!!!!!!!!!!! Probably would've washed further upstream had we realized how close we were to the campgrounds at the bottom of the hill.... because... let's just say we were being thorough. NO scogy smelling campers did we want to be. Got done and some people came hiking down the trail. We waved, packed up our stuff and went down Hell's Hole trail.
It began to move away from the creek, and we eventually hit the entrance to Mt. Evans wilderness area (there's a sign-in/sign-out sheet so they know whether or not to look for you if you go missing). Walked into a beautiful aspen grove. Several hiker groups were out by now. We even saw a family, grandma and all, hiking out with backpacks and sleeping bags and tents. If grandma can carry a pack like that.....
The trail started to go up and seriously away from the creek, and I decided to check out what the creek looked like by going perpendicular from the trail towards the creek... slogging across a short wet creek in a very heavy but not very wide willow thicket and went down the hill and started following the creek. After a little bit we came across a small and very pretty willow bog. There was a fire ring too close to the creek, and another up the hill. And a decent campsite a little over 100 feet from the water. Just what the doctor ordered. Except for the biting flies. And deet didn't seem to affect them.
So we went back up to the old camp site, broke it down, and just as we were packing the car the boys showed up and broke all their stuff down and left. The campsite was empty. But we took Mr. Caretaker's words to heart about being too close to Denver meaning that anything that close to a road is way too convenient for people to get to.
Went to Idaho Springs to the forest service office to ask what could be done to repel biting flies. They were surprised deet didn't work, but someone had heard... (ok all you Big Fat Greek Wedding fans....) Windex worked. We went to the store, looked at all the insect repellent. It was all deet based. So we bought some windex, drove back, and hiked in. We noticed a fire ban sign at the end of Chicago Creek road that wasn't there when we left. Hmmmm..... oh well. Down Hells Hole trail After a few false starts toward the creek, we found the bog.
I'd left my camera in the car accidentally. I decided it was too big a part of my enjoyment to leave there, so I told Mark I'd be back in about 30 minutes (I hoped) -- I really wasn't sure how far we'd hiked in, but I thought it was pretty short. 8 minutes later, I was down at the parking lot. Wow. Really roughing it. But Rich had said that if you hike even a half a mile in, you wouldn't ever see anyone. Also, on my way back I noticed that I had dropped Brian's latrine shovel... so it's kind of a good thing I forgot the camera. Hiked back up (took about 15 minutes to get back .... more uphill) and set up my tent.
The number of biting flies was way down from morning, but there were a few left. So, wanting to play in the creek and enjoy the little bog sitting on rocks in the creek... we doused ourselves with windex and they didn't bother us anymore.
This is where the water filter pump came in quite handy. You really don't want to pack 7 gallons of water in, even the relatively short distance we packed. So we filtered water directly from the stream into our camelbacks and that's what we drank for the rest of the trip. Very "minerally" tasting. In a GOOD way. I wanted to take a bunch of it home.
We hung out on the big rocks and broke out the pipes and smoked some nice summer aromatic from Cigar & Tobac in Kansas City. Should've brought the Gandalf pipe for this scene, but really. Who cares? The spot was beautiful. I could've used a couple more hours sunlight to enjoy it.
It started to get dark. There was thunder in the air and it was clouding up. With the fire ban on and the fact I didn't want to pack the propane stove in, and the fact that Mark was dog-tired from dodging leaks in his tent the night before, we turned in early.
And it began to rain.