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Friday, June 14, 2013

Cottonwood Lake Camping

Over a week ago we decided to go on a little camping trip. Mitch was assigned a special "job" at church to organize this year's Youth Conference. It's like a retreat but for the teenage group of our church. This is usually done on a bigger scale which we call stake level but this year, our stake gave the responsibility of putting this together on the individual wards. 

Anyways the spot chosen for this event was Cottonwood Lake. Minutes before we headed out for our camping trip, we found out through an email that our bishop (church leader) changed the location. We still wanted to take this time to explore the area so we went ahead even with the change of venue. 

Cottonwood Lake is a few miles outside of a little town called Buena Vista. It's about 2 1/2 hours drive west from Colorado Springs. We only did an overnighter because of work commitments but it was worth the drive. Here are some photos from our trip...

We arrived at the lake after lunch. We didn't want to spend the money on the formal campsite so we drove around the area looking for "free" spots. We are a family who loves free things. *wink*

The great thing about having a 4-wheel drive truck is that you have more courage to tackle off-roading. In this trip we explored the hills with our truck. Look at this really cool spot along the trail. Don't you just love how the tree branches creates an arch for the trail? So pretty!

After about an hour or so of driving around and exploring, we finally found our camping spot for the day. This free camping area was located off the main road and we were only yards away from a stream. If this was a hot summer day, I would say that we hit a jackpot. The water was still cold but the kids didn't mind. They waded in the stream, but only for a little bit. I was a bit concerned that they would get sick playing in icy water but thankfully they are resilient and healthy. 

Once we got to the campsite, we went exploring around the area while picking up sticks for our campfire. It was good that the conditions were favorable enough that they allowed campfires. 

Because this was kind of a last minute plan, we made thing easy by bringing MRE's for our dinner. The military issued "meals ready to eat" are one of our favorite camping foods. Everyone can choose which meal they want and the kids love discovering the treats and snacks, each pack contains. 

We are definitely blessed to have a former Scoutmaster in our family. In this trip, Mitch taught Marcus proper knife safety and taught him how to whittle a point on a stick. Marcus was so proud of his achievement that he didn't was us to add the stick to our campfire pile. He even brought it home. 

Mitch also taught Marcus how to properly light a campfire. I'm always confident that we will have a great and safe time camping because we have our very own Outdoor expert in tow. He even noticed a tick on Marcus' shirt that we quickly killed. After that we were very cautious coming too close to bushes and shrubs. I'm telling you, if it were me,I would totally be clueless surviving in the great outdoors. 

After the camp fire was properly lit, it was picture time...

We spent the night staying warm around the campfire. We made s'mores and shared stories. When it got a bit cold, we headed into our truck and played card games. When we were done with that, we turned the truck into our very own rv/trailer.  The kids slept inside their sleeping bags in the cab (seats folded down) while Mitch and I took the bed of the truck. The surface was a bit hard for my liking and the temperature was cold but we survived. 

In the morning, we had some boiled eggs for breakfast and another campfire. Nothing beats a chilly morning than seating by a hot burning fire. After that, we cleaned up, packed our truck and then headed for a trail nearby. We weren't sure where this trail lead to but we hiked up till we couldn't anymore. 

I don't mind hikes but I can tell that we were getting up to some high elevations because I was panting a bit more and was having a hard time breathing. Even the kids were getting close to their giving up point. 

Finally we got to a point in the trail were we felt it was a good spot to stop, take pictures then turn around back down the mountain. This was that spot. I'm pretty sure we were at least over 11,000 feet with how we can clearly see the top of the mountains nearby. 

Once we got back down, we had some lunch. On the menu...more MRE's. 

After that, we drove home and thankfully found everything well when we arrived. 

It's so great to have this time with the family and enjoy nature. We are definitely blessed to be surrounded by beautiful mountains and lakes. Cottonwood lake is a place we would definitely like to visit again 

As I went through the photos for this blog post, I realized that I didn't even photograph the actual lake. Ha! Well that's definitely something to capture next time. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Till next time,

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