Life gets too busy too often and I forget to sit still sometimes. One of my favorite things to do is go backpacking. I think I like it mostly because it is so simple. A few bits of gear, some food, a good pair of trail runners, and the all-important bug repellant and I can spend time in the woods. Last weekend I went up to the Rawah Wilderness in Northern Colorado for three days. It rained much of the time. There has been so much snow in Colorado this year that not only was I camping next to snow banks, but the ground everywhere was mush… and of course the mosquitos love all the water.
But it didn’t matter. I enjoyed some walking and I enjoyed sitting in my little tarptent watching the rain outside, or if it wasn’t raining, the mosquitoes trying to get at me. I did some spinning and a little weaving and I came back home with a big smile on my face and a resolution to be a weekend warrior* until the snow flies again.
I saw two moose, two elk, marmots, squirrels, birds, butterflies, and truckloads of mosquitos. I saw very few people.
I got to the trailhead later than I wanted and when I got to the spot I thought I might camp, it was one of those cluttered dense forests that creep me out. So I hiked a few more miles to a lovely wetland-surrounded lake where I camped next to snowbanks. It was actually a beautiful evening and I quickly threw my tent up and fell asleep.
The next day I backtracked and found that there were beautiful campsites just a stones throw from where I had turned around the night before to avoid the “creepy forest”. Ah well. Anther creative ford over an even bigger creek left me with dry feet for something like 20 more minutes. From there for the rest of the day I was walking through over-saturated meadow and my feet were soaked for the rest of the trip. I love hiking in trail runners for this reason. The water squishes out quickly though the socks never really dry. I needn’t have been so careful to get across that river with dry feet though. I should have just waded through.
This sign marks my trail junction. This particular trail is clearly little used and much of it has disappeared into meadow, marked only by occasional cairns. Also, the trail on the ground doesn’t actually go where the trail on the map does as indicated by the GPS. All fun I assure you and I was never in danger of being lost due to the back-up map and compass. I was very happy for the sign because of these route challenges, but notice the water it is standing in? Every bit of land in this photo was flooded… fortunately with just a few inches of water so I waded on through.
I thought I had enough time to get across the mile of ridge walking at the top of the range. At 11 am you don’t expect the storms to be dicey yet and this one seemed to be sitting still. Boy was I wrong. It flew up on me and sent me running straight down to treeline with a few curses thrown over my shoulder for good measure. (I will NOT die by lightening! Most definitely the number one danger for a backpacker in Colorado in my opinion—at least for one like me who doesn’t do trails with excessive exposure.) But I had some time while waiting for it to pass to warp my loom.
The sun came out for awhile and I found a nice open spot with a breeze for some lunch and a little spinning.
It rained on and off all day and I finally made it through all the marsh and over and around miles of downed trees to reach a beautiful meadow campsite which I had all to myself. It rained all evening, so I sat in my tarptent and watched the rain while doing a little weaving.
For my weaving kit on this trip I grabbed a small sample pack of wool that I just received from Colonial Needle. This is a yarn I’m rather excited about. It is basically Paternayan. After the disappointment of that company going out of business, I was pleased to find that the original designers of the yarn have been making and selling it under a different name: Colonial Persian. I haven’t woven much with it yet, but it seems to be the same as Paternayan and it comes in hundreds of colors. You can find a store locator for it on their website HERE. It still comes in the three-strands we’re familiar with from Paternayan. I’m afraid I haven’t heard any promises of the old Paterna yarn coming back which was just one strand. But these strands are easy to separate and the yarn looks great in tapestry. It is still a little squishier than I like for tapestry (just like Paternayan was), but definitely a good option especially considering the number of colors.
I slept even better that night, lulled by the rain and a little brook. In the morning I had some tea and a little spin in the tent (because of the mosquitoes)… then I loaded up on the Picaridin lotion and packed up. I had a nice jaunt back to the car with a little stop by the river for more spinning and to let my pant legs dry out a little bit in the sunshine which had finally come out.
I’m going again soon. I doubt the mosquitos will disappear for several more weeks, but the county has had no cases of West Nile virus yet, so I think all is good. If I’m not here, I’m out hiking. #gooutside
*If you can’t take all summer off to walk long trails, hitting them on the weekends is another option. Weekend warrior.