During the long hard New England Winter with historic snowfall, in between all the shoveling, I had lots of time to plan out my next move for #Camp50. I mapped out the first trip of 2015 to include six states Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming. This would be the biggest trip yet for #Camp50 but, I knew I had a lot of ground to cover in 2015.
I had a lot of battles with myself over where to fly into and start this six state goal I had set for myself. The decision was finally made, fly in and out of Denver and go counter clockwise….. in a sense it was a way to reset my inner clock, to reevaluate my goals and allow myself to truly feel where I was with my healing process.
The trip went something like this…..
Boarded Patriot, worked 8hrs, jumped on a flight after work arriving in Denver around 10pm, grabbed my bags/gear, the rental car and I was on my way. I drove about 90 minutes then I knew it was time to stop and find a place to get some sleep. I stayed just outside of Colorado Springs in the town of Monument “Ramada Inn” it was clean, close to REI and Walmart so I could pick up most of my supplies in the morning before heading out.
The Great Sand Dunes
With all my trips, watching the weather is key for planning, thankfully I’ve never had to go to Plan B during my trips. The Great Sand Dunes was my first stop, so I watched the weather all week, the reports showed temps around 25 – 30 degrees at night so, I opted to stay at the lodge vs. camping. I have to say this was a very good decision, since it gave my body time to aclamate to the higher elevation and adjust to the time change. In advance of this trip my friend Dylan told me to hydrate and stop drinking caffeine so I did, I believe that helped me adjust smoothly to the higher elevations. THANK YOU DYLAN!! You’re a ROCK STAR!
There is so much more to see and do at The Great Sand Dunes but, not this time not this trip. This place is definitely on the “Return To” list. After a few hours of photography & exploring, I was at the end of the road leading out of The Great Sand Dunes, here is what I saw.
On Sacred Ground………
I spent quite a bit of time at this sign, taking in the history and legend that surrounded the mountains referenced in this sign.
- Arizona “San Francisco Peaks”
- New Mexico “Mount Taylor”
- Utah “Mount Hesperus”
- Colorado “Mount Blanca”
A section of the sign reads ; Many Native American groups believe that this valley is the source of life, where humans and spirit enter and leave this world. Mount Blanca is considered to be the Eastern Boundary and Doorway to Navajo land. How amazing it felt to be here even for just one day.
I took this picture for my good friend Matt “The PeakSeeker”, this mountain has your name on it my friend.
Clayton Lake State Park
After leaving The Great Sand Dunes, I headed south to New Mexico. I planned on camping at Clayton Lake State Park because during my research I discovered there was a section of the park where there are dinosaur tracks. WHAT? Dinosaur tracks, I want to see them. With most trips, I find camping spots that are roughly a 3-5 hour drive time between each state. Crossing the border into New Mexico, there was an electronic highway sign that said “High Wind Warning” so I stopped at another Walmart to buy longer tent stakes, because if you need supplies and you see a store, you should stop……… because you just don’t know when you’ll see another store. True!
There were only about eight campers set up so I had plenty of sites to choose from, it was very windy so it didn’t really matter where I set up but, a room with a view is always a good idea. There’s not much to say about this park especially since I wasn’t there for very long and I don’t particularly like fishing but, if you like fishing this is a great place for you to come to. I did enjoy the early morning walk with the dinosaur tracks, that was nice, imagining they were there eating right where I was standing. Circle of life & existence!
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
This wonderful state park is just 20 miles south west of Amarillo Texas, It is the 2nd largest canyon in the United States, 2nd only to the Grand Canyon. They proudly call this park “The Grand Canyon of Texas”. Upon arriving at the park, you register at the rangers station. There, I talked with some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I was quickly given my site number and congratulated on making Texas #23. Off I went to explore the park, as I drove to the canyon floor there were lot of people hiking and ALOT of people mountain biking along the red clay landscape. I felt so at ease here, so relaxed. I set up tent, organized the car, then noticed storm clouds moving in along with the winds picking up so I grabbed my camera and went on a little adventure. I captured a rainbow while dodging the rain drops. It’s hard to really get the size perspective of things in these pictures, but if you look closely at the below picture “lower center” you’ll see a white building that looks extremely small compared to the walls of the canyon. GREAT PARK, I’d stay here again if I could bring my mountain bike.
I took down the tent, grabbed a quick shower and before the sun came up I was on my way to Oklahoma. For the last 3-5 days there were tornado reports in Oklahoma but, the reports were in eastern Oklahoma so I stayed with my original plan to camp in the western part of the state. No wind, No rain in the forecast, just an increase in the humidity levels OH goodie, I despise humidity. I set up camp, made some lunch, organized the car, washed all the windows/mirrors before long it was time for bed. I think I was overtired because it took me a really long time to fall asleep and it seemed like right when I was able to fall asleep is when the trouble started. I was awoken up by wind and the feeling like the tent was moving…… in fact when I realized it, the tent WAS moving, pushing the back of the tent towards the front. I didn’t understand what was happening but during this time of year, this state was prone to tornado’s. I grabbed my sleeping bag and camping pad (I couldn’t let $400 in gear just blow away) and tried to get out of the tent while it was blowing over, I couldn’t get out very easily, but, after what seemed like forever, I was finally able to get out. I tossed the sleeping bag and pad in the jeep and went back for the tent. At this point the tent was being held up with one stake, I somehow grabbed the poles, tent and footprint and tossed them in the jeep.
Scared, alone, no cell service, completely black outside and only 2 RV campers in the entire park who didn’t seem to be bothered by this wind, I stayed in the jeep. I started thinking about the movie “Twister” the scene when Helen Hunt came around the corner at the Drive-in and told everyone to get underground, that sky was scary. The jeep was solid not moving at all, after a few minutes in the front seat, I told myself “you can’t sleep in the same position as driving” so I jumped in the back seat, covered myself with my sleeping back and tried to get a few hours of sleep.
The events of last night scared me, they had me wondering “What was I doing this for”, there are plenty of other ways to heal my heart, dying isn’t supposed to be one of them. At this point I wanted to give up on #CAMP50. Sometimes it’s good to bounce things off someone else, so I reached out to two separate friends, I value both of their opinions and of course they both had wonderful words of advice for me.
Roy, thank you for reminding me to follow my heart, it always knows the right path, I just have to be open to hearing what it’s trying to tell me. Thank you for your endless support of #CAMP50
Tyson, I don’t think you know how much I value your friendship. Thank you for reminding me that everything is temporary.
Tetonsports, you’ve been amazingly supportive during this trip. You provide me with useful information and you make me laugh. I appreciate all that you do and I LOVE all of my Tetonsports gear #DoItRight
Because these people took the time to talk with me, to help me….. #Camp50 continued on. Please watch for Counter Clockwise Part 2 coming soon.