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.