Saturday morning alarms aren’t my favorite, but they’re worth it when you get to end the day with a view like this!
Ian and I packed our crew (our friend’s Rylan + Kelsey) up in my car and hit the road west towards Vail — we were going to camp at Piney Lake! It was Ian + I’s anniversary weekend, and we decided to celebrate it the best way we know how… no service and outdoor fun!
The whole trip takes about 2.5 hours, mainly due to a 40 minute, 10-mile stretch of dirt road after you get off of the Vail exit. Rhonda the Honda is AWD, but she can’t handle the bumps + boulders as well as Ian’s 4×4 can!
We arrived about 9:30 and found a dispersed camping spot about half a mile from the trailhead where we were going to hike. It was desolate when we arrived, so we scored a perfect spot near the river complete with a fire pit!
After the tents were pitched, sunscreen slathered on and a few Doritos shoves down our pie hole, we hit the trail for the 3.5 mile hike to the falls. We wavered on continuing on to Mt. Powell (about 13.8k feet), but decided against it in favor of not getting struck by lightening when some mean clouds rolled in. No what’s not lame? Safety. <– Anyone that can name that movie quote wins a high five.
It took us about 3 hours round trip, after hanging out at the falls and stopping to goof around with the GoPro. The trail is rolling and fairly easy — I’d recommend it for families or beginners! Especially since the payout is pretty awesome.
When we returned from the hike, another group had set up shop near us and came over to introduce themselves. We ended up hanging out with them late into the night and boy, were they a rowdy bunch! Definitely not the serene, quiet camping I was picturing, but we sure had a blast. Dinner consisted of tacos, which I pre-cooked before heading up to the mountains. We re-heated the meat in the pot on a fire and chowed down. Who said you can’t eat well when camping?
The weather was perfect during the day — perfectly sunny with just a bit of cloud cover. The night however was FREEZING and I ended up sleeping in my turbodown and sweatpants. I had a sleeping pad and Ian didn’t, so I had to make the choice of either sleeping bad or Ian’s body heat during the night. Sleeping pad won… because some rocks decided to take up residence right underneath my shoulder blade.
It poured at 8pm and 3am, and I’m happy to report that we didn’t get wet! Our new tent (the presidential suite, as we call it) held up great in the storm and we awoke dry and exhausted — from staying up way past our bedtime.
I feel pretty darn lucky to live only a few hours away from so many beautiful destinations — I’m already planning another camping trip our next free weekend this summer!