Our First Dispersed Camping Experience in the White River National Forest

 

After resupplying in Crested Butte we headed to Carbondale.We side tripped through Redstone, a very quaint and expensive historic small town on the Crystal River. The next trail we planned to backpack accessed on Forest Service Roads that are on mostly gravel – meaning washboard teeth jarring and kicking up lots of dust, driving 10-15 miles per hour. We did not have a good handle on where we were going to camp but given that we were going to be in the White River National Forest, dispersed camping was always an option. We scouted out the Thomas Lake Trailhead but it was too late to think of backpacking out and there was no camping at the trailhead. So we headed back down the dusty byway. We had seen several spots along the road that appeared suitable to pitch our tents and Prince Creek was close enough to the area we chose was a water source. We would have access to out car parked at least 150 from site and 100 feet from water source. Dispersed camping,for those who my not be familiar with the practice,  is the right to set up camp in any of the National Forest outside a designated campground,  unless otherwise prohibited in specific area. I think of it as half way between “car camping” in an established campground with toilet and water provide and backpacking. There are no services such as trash removal, no facilities such as toilets , purified water,  fire pits, or tables. Of course with backpacking one engages in dispersed camping with no access to car.  It was in a shady grove, there were few bugs, and there was a great very cold creek in which to take a river bath. Here is a glimpse of our last two kitchens and bathroom equipment,  the hanging of the bear bag, water purification, and the  frenzied dogs at dinner time.

It eventually became a joke but when Tasia half-heartedly made an attempt to hang a bear bag. They warn of bears in the area but there was not much of a danger in this area here so our other concern was rodents.)After stretching the line and attaching a bag quite low she suddenly realized she was hanging it in the most contraindicate spot i.e. by the tents. So it became the task at each campsite to take a bear bag picture.

The two dogs have been incredible troopers given the many challenges encountered. Below are portraits of KILIMANJARO aka Kili, my sick dog during the backpacking adventures (who is now well), but he still hung in there with a little assistance and hand feeding by my awesome daughter Tasia.

 

Simba is not to be forgotten. Imagine, “Tiny Dog” as Tasia dubbed him, having to take ten steps for our one, leaping up on bolders that are more like short rocks to us, getting his belly wet fording creeks when it barely touches out toes. Kudos to this mighty little hiker.

Amara, twelve years of age was a great team member.  She trekked along , helped out with the dogs and was entirely engaged in the hike. Her mother, Tasia, would keep her engaged through such task as photography of wild flowers, finding faces to photograph in flowers, rocks, trees or any other object of nature that stood out. Portraits of Amara:

 

Tasia is a great photographer and we spent time by the creek photographing some of the simplest thing in our immediate surroundings including a clover leaf and clover flower,  a tree trunk, a mushroom, an abandoned bicycle with thistles growing into its wheel and chain, and  a strange nest in a globe hanging from the tree. If I take the time to pause and really look about me, there a a myriad of things to see.

It was a  quiet night with a brief rain burst.

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