I have been wanting to go backpacking for some time. It was something I had considered when I was younger, but had never pursued. I had all but forgotten any interest in backpacking. But, reading others blogs about their trips, and becoming camp mom for the girl scout troop and wanting to inspire them, created in me a desire to give it a go. I researched gear over several months, and watched for sales to purchase all my gear. I took classes through REI, and read books on backpacking. Now, I waited for the weather to cooperate so I could test my knowledge. Finally, an opportunity arose for me to check off a bucket list item.
I drove out to Colorado Bend State Park. The backpacking area is just under a mile away, so it being my first trip and being by myself, I figured that would be the best option. Besides, I had been wanting to get out that way anyway. My pack weighed in at around 20 pounds.
The trail to the site was smooth and flat. It was a good choice for a first trip. A nice level surface welcomed me when I arrived. It was right on the river and faced a cliff on the other side. I set up my camp, then set off to explore the rest of the park.
Gorman Falls was on my radar. This 65 feet high waterfall flows from groundwater that is slowly dissolving the limestone. The water that flows over is rich in nutrients that help the ecosystem here thrive. This is a living waterfall.
The trail to the falls is extremely rocky. I was happy I brought along my trekking poles. They helped navigate the uneven surface. If you have bad knees, ankles, hips, etc., you might want to reconsider taking this trail, and perhaps see the falls from the river instead. Let’s just say that the last bit of the trail to the falls is dangerous; rocky and since many have traveled down the rocks, they have become smooth. Thankfully they installed cables that you can hold on to as you maneuver up and down the rock face.
The falls are worth the trek down the rocky cliff. I was alone with the sounds of rushing water and the birds chirping. I spend many minutes just taking it all in and enjoying the moment. I took many pictures.
After enjoying the falls, I hiked back to my car. The sun was setting and it was a spectacular view from up on the hill side on the trail! I stopped and photographed it. By the time I got back to the trail head, it was dark. I had to hike back to my campsite by moon light. But, I was prepared with my headlamp so I didn’t have to stumble in the dark. 🙂
Once, there I got everything ready to make dinner. But I had a problem… My strike anywhere matches were not lighting! 🙁 Ummm, how to boil water without lighting a campfire (there are no campfires permitted in the backpacking sites)? All I had was a camp stove and fuel (the kind with a wick). Bummer. Thankfully I had almonds and protein bars so I didn’t get hungry.
I sat and watched the stars come out, and oh how many stars there were! The moons was a waxing crescent and slowly set as the night went on. So many stars shone brightly in the night sky. I photographed them for a while and just sat and enjoyed their beauty.
The night was cold and I was thankful for my down bag. I stayed warm and slept well. In the morning, awaking to the natural sunlight and the birds happy song, I felt refreshed. But how to make breakfast? I hiked back to the ranger station to see if they had matches for sale. No such luck. But, they did have fresh coffee for sale. So, I had a couple cups of coffee and snacked on more protein bars and almonds before going back to take down camp.
It was a memorable first backpacking trip, and I am ready for my next one! And I will be checking my matches before I go! 😉
- Always check in with a ranger to inquirer about trail conditions. It is wise to know when and where trails are out, or unsafe for passage. It might save you time backtracking, and it might just save your life!
- Take plenty of water.
- Tell someone where you will be and when you plan to return.
- Protect yourself from the sun with a hat, sunscreen and appropriate clothing.
- Be prepared so you can enjoy yourself!
- Keep your pets on a leash and out of the buildings.
- The trails are multi-use, so watch out for bikers.
- There are no campfires in the backpacking sites. Bring a camp stove if you plan on heating something up.
- The park will close when it has reached maximum capacity. Call ahead and watch their Facebook page for closures.
Be sure to visit the official Website for Colorado Bend State Park for maps and other information: Colorado Bend State Park
What was your experience on your first backpacking trip?
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