Recently the Mrs. and I went camping at Rocky Mountain National Park. This was our second weekend in a row of camping and it turned out to be the last of the year for us. The weekend prior we had been COLD through the night – it turns out the temperature is inclined to not mess around in the mountains at night. We figured the solution would be to wear sweats to bed, maybe throw a blanket or three in our sleeping bags with us, and we’d be square.
Looking at the weather, which was expected to get to the 30s, we figured renting winter sleeping bags might be a better idea. This turned out to be smart.
Arriving at the campsite, we got a pep talk from a ranger or two about bears. This is bear country and all that. Except, this warning was a little more fun. Two nights prior a black bear had come around and a woman had left her car unlocked, so the bear opened the car door (I knew bears could smash into cars, I didn’t know they knew to try door handles) and ate the food in the car. Excited by the snack, the bear decided to look for more and swiped curiously at the woman’s tent. Yes, imagine that. Sleeping, you hear a noise, wake up and it is a BEAR who has just ripped your tent open. The woman screamed and the bear scampered off.
We were strongly encouraged to use the bear box (a metallic box with a handle that would be tough for a bear’s big mitt to fit into). You store anything smelly in the bear box – food, toiletries, yourself. Just kidding about that last part.
The lady of the campsite was none too thrilled about the prospect of a bear coming knocking at the door, but we got settled nevertheless. Pretty quickly it was cold, the dog was shivering despite her dorky sweater, and we were huddled around the fire. We hopped in bed and got a fairly restful night of sleep, but each of us did take turns waking up and imagining every sound was that of a bear.
The next morning a bit of frost covered the tent and the cars of all the campers in the area. The rented sleeping bags were worlds better than our normal ones, so we did not freeze (I felt pretty comfy actually – except for my exposed face).
I headed out to check out a lake nearby, Sprague Lake. I ended up on the wrong trail and ran across fresh animal droppings and though I knew they weren’t from a bear it was enough to awaken bear fears so I headed back. On my way back I ran across two ladies headed to Sprague Lake who encouraged me to hike out there too. Boy was it worth it. The Mrs. and I drove over to the lake before heading home but the water was no longer still, the mirrored mountains had disappeared.
Another successful camping trip in the books, and now we hibernate for winter.
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