Memorial Day Weekend in Voo, Part 1

May 24, 2008 at 10:19 pm

“This is ‘high country’ and wind is ever present, whether just a light breeze prowling through the aspen groves or near hurricane force gales. Storms of near bestial proportions are spawned in the snowy range … and many times descend upon the valleys of Vedauwoo.” – Skip Harper

Pictures from the weekend are being added to the gallery!

We made plans to spend the long weekend with the old gang at Vedauwoo months ago. And we should know better than to try to predict weather so far in advance. After a week of heavy weather in Northern Colorado, Mark and I (and most of the rest of the group) weren’t sure how a long weekend in the mountains and high, windy, cold plains of Wyoming was going to turn out. We waffled about whether to drive up on Friday night or Saturday morning, but around 7p on Friday night, the clouds parted, the sun came out, and we decided it was time to take a chance.

Back near the Heap as bad weather closes in

Our first adventure involved finding the campsite that Ann and Sean had picked out earlier in the day. Dylan sent us a map via email, which Mark and I promptly left at home. We both felt we had the image in our mind, so after two hours of driving through mud and fog and rain and the dark woods northwest of Vedauwoo, we finally found the site. We put up our tent in freezing rain and dark fog, and crashed for the night.

In the morning we woke to howling winds and the left side of our tent encased in ice. The few hearty souls who had camped Friday night (Dylan and Ann, Clare, Sean and us) collectively decided we would be unlikely to get much climbing in that day. Mark and I brought my little brother Kev back from the meeting spot and Doug and Liz showed up around 10:30. We all packed up day packs and put on layers to hike out and explore the northern reaches of Vedauwoo.

Loop hike on Saturday around the Green Mountains

This turned out to be a great decision. Even though Mark and I have been climbing in the area for more than four years now, every time we go back to Vedauwoo we discover a new valley, rock, mountain or glade that is just stunning. On this hike, we all explored a whole region that I had only seen from a distance. The Green Mountains are a series of rocky peaks to the north of most of our climbing areas, and on Saturday we got an up-close look.

Looking up at the first peak in the Green Mountains

According to Dylan’s GPS, we covered about 7 miles in about 4 hours, which is good for a hike that was only 60% on a trail or road. With the mountains and rock formations in Vedauwoo, it’s so easy to hike off over a hill, across a marsh, through a forest, without ever needing a trail for navigation. Just put a rock to your back and walk “that way!”

On the final leg of our route around the mountains, we stumbled upon a perfect campsite snuggled up against a peak. The ground was soft with pine needles and the wind blew by overhead without touching us. We all decided we should move campsites.

Saturday evening was spent next to a roaring fire in the soft quiet arms of the lee-side of Vedauwoo. The wind, weather, and remoteness of the area make it so wild. The dark forest feels like coming home to those of us with storms blowing in our souls.



December 19, 2006 at 6:52 am

I managed to take a lot of really great pictures last weekend. Well, I think they’re really great. You’re welcome to your opinion as well.

I had been seeing a lot of fantastic shots of the northern lights in the last couple of days due to a large solar flare that blew through the ionosphere last week. I was hoping to get some night shots in the northern mountains that might pick up a little magnetic activity, or even the tail end of the geminids. But it was cloudy and snowing, so I just played around with shots of the campfire instead.


Peace and Quiet – A Snow Camping Trip Report

December 18, 2006 at 7:41 am

The weather report for this weekend called for a decent amount of snow to blow through on Saturday night. Mark and I were feeling a little cooped up and inspired by winter camping exploits of our friends. We decided to dig out all of our winter gear, pack up the yellow truck, and head out to the mountains for a night of snowy camping.

I looked up the status of National Forest campgrounds in our area a few days before, and we saw that Dowdy Lake campground was open year round in Red Feather Lakes. This is a highly residential area in the mountains just south of Wyoming. This is an area that Mark and I have not spent much time in, because so much of the land is privately owned, it can be slightly worrisome to hike and camp around. But, the Dowdy Lake area is a national forest site, and trails lead from the lake to Mount Margaret, a small rocky peak that is a popular summer day hike for people in our area.

We got to the campground a little later in the afternoon than we originally planned, and we spent some time picking out the perfect campsite. This turned out to be time well spent, as the wind picked up over the lake at night, and our site back in the woods stayed still and calm.

Around 2pm, we hit the trail for Mount Margaret. Most of this trail is actually downhill, with only the final summit climb being somewhat vertical. We goofed around along the way, filming bits of “Mark vs Wild” and playing on a wide, solid ice sheet over a creek. By around 3:30pm, we hit an intersection with a sign telling us that the summit was still a mile away. With the sun rapidly setting and clouds blowing in, we decided to forgo the actual summit and head back to the campsite.

In the evening, Mark started a fire, and we had a tasty Chef Boyar-D dinner. As we were getting ready to head into the tent at night, I hiked over to the toilets, and met 3 guys with their 2 dogs that were stuck in the campground because their glow plugs weren’t warming up. They had been out ice fishing all day, and when I asked if they needed any food, water or blankets, I got two firm “No”s, and one “Well, maybe…” They ended up getting the truck started pretty soon after I arrived, and all we gave them was some water and a spoon for their cans of soup. I did find out, however, that in a day of ice fishing, these guys were able to pull 75 fish out of that frozen lake!! And 75 trout at that!! They offered us a couple of fish (as they had so many extras) but we declined as well. I decided that ice fishing just might be a hobby worth taking up in the future!

That evening we snuggled into the 4-season tent. We brought our -10F degree bags, our down sleeping mats, and about 10 extra blankets. It was about 25F degrees outside and the tent rapidly warmed up to over 40F as we moved around and settled in. After we actually cocooned up to sleep, the temperature dropped rapidly towards the external temp, but never got too horribly cold.

In the morning we woke to a quiet blanket of snow over the whole area, and the beautiful white views made the whole weekend worth it. It was a really fun trip, and we had a great time.

More photos from the trip are in the photo gallery.