I had been yearning for an adventure similar to the one my then 10-year-old daughter and I took two years ago on the Colorado River. I was also looking for a trueadventure. We took a lovely family vacation around our home state over the summer, and visited many places we had never been. Due to lack of planning, we wound up in a less-than-stellar KOA campground on the last night.
Now, KOA camping is perfect for many people, and I admire them for that. Getting outdoors, especially toting kids, is commendable no matter how you manage it, in my mind. However, it is not my style of camping. At all. I was lucky enough to fall in love with tent camping from a very early age (6 weeks, my mom tells me), and I introduced it to my husband as soon as we started dating. My kids have now fallen in love with it, and I swear are the best campers on the planet.
Due to late summer colds, beginning of school stress and other factors, we could not execute a family backpacking trip. That’s when I cataloged our gear in my mind, and became determined to take my favorite girl into the woods and introduce her to backpacking. She was more than happy to spend a solid two days with me, and get away from her younger brother.
A beautiful weekend was in the forecast, and after a morning activity, we were on our way to the trail head. We’re lucky to live where we do because in about one hour we were at 10,000+ feet.
The hike to Diamond Lake may be classified as easy to some with a moderate 768 feet of elevation gain on the way in. But, we did need to get to the campsite before dark, and we started a little later than I had planned. It took us a full 2 hours to hike into the lake, and we could see and feel dusk approaching since it was mid-September in the Rockies. My daughter was a little worried the longer we stayed on the trail, but I assured her we would make it and everything would be fine.
We arrived at the lake, sweaty from the final climb and feeling the evening chill at 10,957 feet. The first task was to choose a campsite, then get warm and eat some snacks. This felt great and gave us some energy to setup the campsite.
Our site had an amazing view for the sunset that we enjoyed over dinner. We took a walk around the lake and explored. Being two ladies, it was comforting to have other people semi-close to us.
We had shopped together for food and supplies, and selected dehydrated food as the best option. I had not been backpacking in several years, and knew my growing girl would appreciate a warm, filling meal. I made sure that she helped set up the kitchen, find supplies and put the meal together. A very dry winter led to a season of wildfires in Colorado, and low levels in lakes and streams. For this reason, and because we were only spending one night, we packed in our water. This also meant that a fire ban was still in place. After dinner, some chocolate, and another walk, the best way to stay warm was in the tent. We had a great time chatting, playing cards, and chatting some more. Neither one of us wanted to get out of the tent for nature’s calling, but when we did it was together. And, luckily it’s easy to warm up a small tent with just two people in it!
The next morning brought bright sunshine, but also a stiff breeze that kept us pretty chilly when we weren’t moving. We explored down a valley toward Upper Diamond Lake for a while, but soon decided to pack up for the walk out. I was really looking forward to the light weight since using all of our cooking water, and we had plenty left in our hydration sleeves for the hike out. The trail goes in and out of several valleys, so it was only a little less elevation gain on the walk out, and it still took us 2 hours. We were happy to see our car! The best part for me on the walk out, was seeing the day hikers starting out on the trail. They looked at us, then at my pack with the tent packed right on the top, and the girl carrying her own sleeping bag and pad. They seemed to be searching up the trail to see who was with us. But, nope, it was just the two of us and we were more than fine!
My daughter still talks about this trip, and she seemed to really appreciate the solitude, beauty, and quiet that can be found just a short distance from our busy suburban lives. We’re already planning a family trip for early next summer, but I’m also hoping some girls’ trips will help usher in the teen years, maybe, just a little more gracefully.