Snow Camping

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During his Spring Break in 2010, Tristan and I went snow camping up in Herman’s Gulch which is just off I-70 before the Eisenhower Tunnel. It was a beautiful day when we started out, so we hiked up quite a ways on our snowshoes and then left our packs and kept hiking up to a lookout spot up in a basin. It was tiring but really lovely as there were clear blue skies and great views – however there was a lot of sun/glare and Tristan got quite sunburned. We set up camp and enjoyed the last of the sun and warmth, and then the temperature plummeted and Tristan crawled in the tent, got all his warm sweats on, and cocooned himself in his sleeping bag. After a while we ate dinner and then got our outside gear back on and went for a walk to get our blood moving and make sure fingers and toes were warm enough to stay comfortable through the night. As we were strolling under the dark, moonless sky, Tristan was talking about Galileo and constellations and then he said “What’s that?!” and his arm flew straight out to the side with his hand pointing right in front of my face. I turned to look where he was pointing and saw a large silhouette of a ‘dog’ moving across the snow to our right. We turned on our headlamps and the eyes glowed back at us… I suggested we go a little further, Tristan thought I was nuts. I was certain that coyotes wouldn’t want anything to do with us, so we walked a little further. I stopped to pee next to the trail and Tristan said ‘Uh Beth, look over there.” and off to our left where his headlamp was pointed there were more eyes glowing in the reflection. We then decided to go ahead and retreat to the tent. We slept ok, but in the morning there was a layer of snow on the tent and our boots were frozen. Tristan got his gear and boots on and the snowshoes, and I told him to go ahead back on down the trail while I finished packing my bag. It took me several minutes, and then I followed his tracks for a while until I finally caught up to him. It was only at that point that I realized Tristan had been guessing/ creating the trail as the fresh snow and wind had blown over any prior trace of our trail. Tristan was an excellent sport and eventually we did arrive back at the car. This was several hours, and at least a thousand feet below, when/where we had started, and still the car read -10 degrees. Tristan was very leery that this was a fun thing to do by choice, but he did say “That was really pretty, and interesting. I don’t think I’ll do it again, but it was a good thing to experience.” We then drove to Silverthorne and ate a big hot breakfast complete with hot cocoa and a cinnamon roll, and then headed to Copper Mountain for some snowboarding. Tristan was much happier in a hotel that next night, even with all our gear and tent stuff strewn everywhere to dry. We had a great time on our snow adventure – despite sunburn, fatigue, cold, coyotes, and trail hunting, Tristan was pleasant to be with for truly every moment of the trip.

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