1st Camping Trip of 2016

Today we got home from our first 2016 camping/hiking/climbing trip.  We are pooped!!  But in an oh so good way.  We decided to go to Devil's Head and explore the Rampart Range which is located between Denver and Colorado Springs in the foothills.  We first explored this area shortly after moving to Colorado.  Back then we hiked the 5 mile round trip trail up to the fire tower at the top. This time we were there for the climbing.

We left on Friday morning afternoon and headed the back way thinking it would be nice to see the scenery.  It was indeed but it made the trip very long and we didn't make it to set up our campsite until 4pm.  Which when it is a weekend (Friday) that is pretty late to be looking for a free spot.  But we found one and we got set up in no time.  Miss Chloe Bean is quite the adventurer.  We camped with her last year too but she was not mobile!  She ran around like she owned that campsite and had to be watched like a hawk as there were some pretty big boulders that were apparently calling to her.  It was magnetic or something.  Seriously.  I couldn't keep her off the rocks!

We are a little rusty on the camping front and forgot a few key items.  We will be better prepared next time!  Like we'll bring our camping stove.  Oops!  Good thing burgers turned out great in the fire wrapped in foil. And though it was slow, we also were able to make pancakes and eggs on a skillet over the fire.  Our little birdie mouths ate faster than John could cook!

After setting up camp we headed for the trail to do a quick hike and scope out the climbing walls.  We actually didn't make it to the right wall that night but we did get to hike around a bit.  It looked quite different from the last time we had hiked this trail.  That's because there was a tornado last year that caused a blow down.  Upon seeing the sign, Aaron was overcome with sadness to the point of tears in his eyes over the destruction of the forest.  It was so sweet.  John had a good talk with him about how the forest heals and that with destruction from storms or fires comes new life. Such a sweet moment.

Back at the camp site we set up dinner and ate around the fire.  With no smores (a crime in the eyes of our children) there wasn't much to do after we ate.  But then came the best part of the whole day.  We started singing.  At first we sang songs from Awanas (Bible verses the kids had learned) and we ran out of songs that they remembered we switched to worship songs.  I got choked up to the point that I could barely sing when the boys started taking turns singing "Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me..." It was one of the most beautiful sounds ever.  And John pointed out to the boys that Jesus was probably smiling at them just thrilled at all the songs. As Chloe started to doze on my lap we switched gears and started singing boy scout songs and camp songs.  It was perfect.  Like out of a movie perfect.  There were no distractions, no electronics, just our family singing songs and telling stories for at least an hour around the campfire.  It was just what we needed.

 Pike's Peak

Our foil Hamburgers

Bed time was rough...  The boys were super excited to get to sleep in their own tent with Cinder.  It took a bit, but eventually they gave into sleep and quieted down.  Chloe was easy to put to bed.  She fell asleep on my lap and transferred nicely to the tent.  But since we didn't have the pack and play, and she's quite accustomed to flailing at night, it was a very long and restless night.  She tossed and turned and it was difficult to keep her covered to stay warm or keep her on the padded surface where she would be more comfortable.  At 5am the boys were up with the sun!  But we convinced them to lay back down as they were not allowed out of the tent yet.  They made it until 6:45.  Breakfast took forever to make on one skillet over the fire.  But John is an awesome daddy and husband and made us all pancakes and eggs for breakfast.

 View from the lower part of the rocks.
 Lunch Time!

Born to climb!

Then it was off to the climbing wall for real this time!  After a short hike we made it to the wall to find it was quite busy.  And more people were coming.  We chose our route and got started.  In order for us to climb as a family we have to first secure Chloe as John and I are both harnessed in at first.  I belay him while he does what's called "lead climbing".  Thats where he climbs to a bolt and attaches a clip to it that his rope goes through.  That way as he climbs, if he falls, he only falls to the last bolt and I "catch" him on the rope as the belayer.  He has never fallen lead climbing yet.  Once he gets to the top he then anchors and sets up a top rope that the rest of us will be climbing with.  Then he repels down.  At that point I can take off my harness and tend to Chloe while the boys get turns climbing.  And on good days - like that one - I get to climb while Chloe naps.  For the average couple (or climbing pair) this process is pretty quick.  But for a family of five, this took us all morning just to get everyone up at least once.  But we still count it a success!  I mean, who takes their three children (one a toddler) and a dog climbing?  We do!!

 Chloe wedged beside me.

 John on repel
 Eman climbing!

Ethan is our little climbing champ.  He loves it and usually has little fear.  He HATES to hike uphill but loves the end result of getting to climb.  Aaron, on the other hand, LOVEs to hike and only mildly likes to climb most days.  But he's getting better all the time which gives him more confidence and makes him like it more.

 Aaron's turn

Aaron finishing up as Chloe fell asleep.  I had just taken her for a walk in her pack and she conked out.  

We had a great time climbing and were all exhausted!  The kids begged us not to go home yet and to let them play around the campsite some before we packed up but by the time we made it to camp they were passed out!  So John and I packed up our tent and loaded up the car.  Pizza and drinks were our reward on the way home.  Such a good trip.  A lot of work.  But worth it.