Thursday, September 18, 2014

camping, abbreviated

Unbelievably, it's been since May 2013 since we went camping.  We had hoped to go earlier this summer but got rained out; we were determined to go back to the Uintas this September.  Plus, B is getting old and a bit rickety: at age 14+ she may not have too many more opportunities to go camping and since she seemed to enjoy it in 2012, we wanted to get her up into the Uintas and fishing at least one more time.  After MTBing at Park City last Saturday, we swung by Fish Tech to re-up our fishing licenses and ask what was biting in Mirror Lake these days (red ant flies was their answer), and then spent the afternoon packing and getting organized.  When we got the truck loaded on Sunday morning it looked like we were going to be gone a week, not a couple of days.  With B settled onto the front seat between us, head on H's lap and already asleep before we'd gotten out of the driveway, we were off.

Shady Dell campsite #9

Since it was a Sunday afternoon well after Labor Day, we figured we wouldn't have too much trouble finding an available campsite.  To our surprise, Cobblerest CG was closed for the season so we ended up at Shady Dell.  There was someone just leaving the one site we were coveting, so we circled around and lurked unobtrusively until they took off.  Once in there, #9 was perfect: sunny, with trees between us and the drive to provide privacy, and just steps to a little brook.  As we set up camp, B roamed around, not quite sure of what was going on at first, and then settling down enough to dig a hole and chew on a stick or two.  She amazed both of us when, after baking in the sun for a while, she voluntarily walked into the brook and laid down to cool off - this from a dog who doesn't like to get her feet wet when the neighbors' sprinklers are running during our morning walks.

Cooling off in a Provo River tributary

We spent a lazy afternoon hanging around camp.  B can't go on long walks anymore so we just explored the nearby "Fairy Forest" a bit, read and drank some beers while the sun was still above the mountains.  As evening fell, H made a very nice fire - one match and no lighter fluid - and made us dinner: steak, onions and broccoli served over couscous.  We kept an anxious eye on the weather, especially as it clouded up right after dinner.  But once darkness set in, the clouds dissipated and the nighttime sky was spectacular with stars.  When it was time for bed, we put B in the truck and I bundled up, wearing two pairs of wool socks and my fleece gloves - the last two times I went camping, I got very cold overnight - but I needn't have worried as it didn't get nearly as cold as before (although H still commented that we were probably pushing the boundaries of a "3-season" tent).

A landlocked reef of river rocks near our campsite

Morning was gorgeous, with bright sun peeking over the mountains.  We startled a couple of mule deer and ate our breakfast of french toast, sausage and instant coffee, then loaded up to take B fishing at Mirror Lake.  We all climbed in the truck, H turned the key ... and the truck wouldn't start.  Or rather, it sluggishly started and then died.  We looked at each other in mild panic and he tried again.  This time, reluctantly, it turned over, caught and stayed running.  We looked at each other again: if the truck stopped running while we were out on the Mirror Lake Highway, twenty miles from the nearest cell signal, and with reduced hitchhike-able traffic due to it being after Labor Day, we would be completely screwed.  So we jumped back out of the still-idling truck, hurriedly packed up everything that was still out and headed back to SLC with fingers crossed.

Here comes breakfast!

We made back to our house, hastily unloaded the truck (again still-idling since we were afraid to turn it off), installed B on the couch and drove off to the mechanic, me following in my car.  We got a preliminary call from the mechanic while we were having a consolation beer at Dick 'n' Dixie's: it needs a new battery for sure, plus they were going to keep checking the other systems.  We were pretty disappointed that our camping trip was halved, and that we didn't get to take the dog fishing, but it was absolutely the right call to take the truck in rather than risk getting stranded out in the middle of the Uintas.  On the plus side, we got to have a couple of campfires and see the stars and drink beers outside in the dirt - I'll take that whenever I can get it.  And I think B was just happy to get a couple of car rides that didn't end up at the vet.

We wouldn't let her in the tent, so 
she's as close as she could get

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