In between back to school and the holiday season, it’s always fun to go hunting. With hunting comes camping. That is, unless you pay the big dollars to stay at an outfitter. I love the outdoors and the adventures that they offer, so I choose to camp and hunt. Nights are colder than in the summer and can be short because of the early morning wake-up for the hunt, but it’s always worth every minute.
This year it was unseasonably dry. I had a third-season cow tag, along with all the masses around me. The elk were high and not coming down. The snow was sparce, but it was still cold. At this point in the year, I would not recommend tent camping unless you have a good air mattress and a very warm sleeping bag. My family uses the L.L. Bean sleeping bags that keep you warm (down to -20 degrees) and we’ve never had a problem keeping warm. However, we camped in my living-quarters horse trailer. I love tent camping and I choose it a lot over my trailer, but the space in the back of the trailer is nice to have if you get your tags filled.
Every day it seemed like the same routine. Get up, get dressed really warm, then leave the nice and comfortable heated trailer to go out into the bitter fall breeze. At least if you tent camp at this time of year, your body has adjusted to the chill a little better. We put in the miles on foot and on ATVs. The adventure lasted four days. We had no luck until the fourth day, and that was only fresh droppings and tracks. We needed the snow.
I did not take home an elk, but what I did take home was the adventure. The best part was getting up in the high country. On that fourth day we found a great spot for summer camping. It was off the side of Hayden Pass in the San Luis Valley in Colorado. The only challenge to get to it is the four-wheel-drive road, and it is a place where tent camping is the only option. It was a little meadow just below the timberline, with tall aspen trees mixed in with evergreens surrounding it. Through the trees I could see the wide open valley from where we had climbed up. As I sat in the corner of this meadow hoping and waiting for elk, I realized that it was a perfect camping spot. Several feet of snow blanket it now, so I will have to wait until next June or July to camp there.
Colorado native Becky Swan is a former teacher with a degree in communications from the University of Denver. She now writes for local magazines while raising her two girls. Aside from writing, Becky enjoys the outdoors, particularly skiing, horseback riding, camping, running, and hiking. She is completing her second season of coaching the local high school cross country team. Visit Becky’s blog, Experience Life.