Camping Above 10,000 Feet Can Be Tricky But It's Worth It
Disclaimer: Don't try this at home...
There is something I love about getting away from the traffic, noise, and gunfire in St, Joseph. If you're looking to for a great camping trip, with a tiny bit of survival involved - just a bit - taking a trip, high up into the Rocky Mountains, in Colorado.
Even in the sweltering heat of August, the temperature plummets down to lower 40's or upper 30's. The weather tumultuous, to say the least, and can easily surprise-gift you an unexpected hail or lightning storm.
In order to survive at the top of the Rockies, it takes a little creativity. For the best way to keep warm and to avoid being ruled by the elements, it's recommended that you purchase a nice solid and reliable tent.
The tent I use is made of canvas, which makes the tent strong, and the weave of the fiber virtually locks water outside the surface of the canvas.
In fact, the moment I set it up, my camp was hit by a hail storm, and the tree right next to me was struck by lightning, yet I survived, my tent didn't blow away like Dorothy's house to Oz, and I lived on to camp, another day.
I go camping with Bunny, my cat, so if you're big and bad, it's completely possible to survive the night with a proper temperature rated sleeping bag, but with her, I have to keep the tent nice and cozy.
Temperature rating on a sleeping bag is important because if the rating is too high or too low, you could end up freezing or burning up, respectively. If you make sure to pay attention to the weather reports for the dates of your trip, you can then choose the right temperature rated bag, which will allow you to sleep like a bug, in a rug, in a forest.
Heating a canvas tent can be tricky. The tents themselves are only rated down to about 40 degrees, which causes cold air to seep through the walls when the temperature drops to freezing.
There are many ways to heat a tent, from small propane torches to tent stoves that run on wood, or pellets. I use a heater buddy, a small ceramic plate propane heater, that connects to a 40-gallon propane tank, that will give me about 10 days of 12 hours of use, a day.
With a heater in the tent, it's like sleeping next to a glowing campfire, keeps the tent nice and toasty, and my kitty happy, which is all that really matters.
When I am camping, I like to have technology available, electricity, and wi-fi signal. I bring three marine batteries with me, fed into a 750-watt power inverter that converts the marine battery power to household electric power, with a cell phone range extender added so I can research and write in the privacy that the top of a mountain at night offers, and also watch X-Files.
The last time I camped at the top of the Rockies, which was yesterday, I was visited by no one but a very small, baby chipmunk, who saw my kitty, attacked our tent, ran up in a tree, then laughed and chirped at us for like ten minutes, the little bastard.
Happy to be away from the gunfire of St. Joseph, I lie awake at night and listen to the distant gunfire of the Rocky Mountains.
You see, the person firing off the gun in the forest was probably a decent guy, illegally shooting at an elk during bow season, rather like in St. Joe where God knows why those two cars were just chasing each other down the street exchanging 9mm burtsts like they are in some kind of 1950's gangster movie.
The best way to find a place to camp in the Rockies is to drive to Durango, head up Highway 550 towards Silverton, and look for forest access roads, most of which jut off the main road and quickly turn into 4x4 only roads, so make sure you have the right vehicle for the trip, as well, so you can really enjoy everything the High Rockies have to offer.
If done right, rather than dying at the top of a mount by freezing to death, you can sit back, enjoy the silence, and gunfire, while reading your favorite horror novel, for the ultimate scare-fest, because if there is one fact I can share with you, nothing is scarier than to reading a book, alone in a forest, and the book monster is running around on the mountain you are camping on.