Jonathan and I were able to have a night away, in order to go camping - one of my favorite pastimes.
We headed up to Zion National Park, Utah for the evening. We ended up finding a primitive camp on a private ranch in the park via HipCamp, which we had never used before. I would highly recommend it! We had a wonderful experience. This particular spot was on a 1200-acre ranch, that had been privately owned for over 150 years. We literally just drove in through the gate and picked a spot to make our campsite. There were no other people anywhere near us to be heard or seen. Just us, the mountains, the stars, and the breathtaking beauty of our surroundings. It was heavenly - aptly named Zion.
We drove around the park for awhile, exploring and just soaking in its glory. If you have never been to Zion, it should be on your top ten bucket list to see in the US (and Horseshoe Bend). The sun was starting to get low in the sky, so we decided to head back and get camp set up before sunset began in earnest. We found a little spot on a ridge with a few trees to pitch our tent by. With the trees at our back, the rest of our view was filled with the mountains on the other three sides. There was a large pond up the hill to the west, where a family of ducks was idly swimming. And, below our ridge to the southeast, was another small pond full of frogs, that serenaded us as the sun began to set. We had a roaring campfire in the fire ring that Jonathan built, and it was much needed as the temperatures quickly dropped as the sun began to set. We made hamburgers with Havarti, sautéed veggies, and grilled shrimp skewers. So yum, especially cooked over a fire!
We finished the evening with lots of hot coffee to stay warm, and huddled under a blanket in a our camp chairs while we watched the stars and counted satellites passing through the heavens.The total darkness and lack of light pollution in the area made for an absolutely unbelievable picture show in the sky above us. The Milky Way was bright and visible, and the Big Dipper was enormous on the horizon. By the time we crawled into out sleeping bags, it was getting really chilly - the low 40s. We were so thankful for the amazing extra large subzero sleeping bags we purchased! With the absolute quiet, we easily drifted off to sleep sans kids for the first time in forever.
About 3am, we were awoken by the wind ripping at our tent. Unbeknownst to us, their had been a major change in the weather forecast late that evening, and there was an early winter storm coming in. The winds were sustained at 35-40mph, and we were having gusts as high as 67mph...with a temp of 27. Um, it was FREEZING. We huddled down inside our bags with them pulled over our heads to keep out the dust and waited for morning light. It was impossible to get any further sleep with the wind beating away at the tent and blowing the sides in every few minutes. Luckily, none of the poles broke, but we had a thick layer of red dirt dust over everything.
After it was light enough, we could see there was snow on the tops of the mountains in the area, and it was freezing. Jonathan attempted to warm up some water on the camp stove for coffee, but could not find an area with enough of a wind shield to allow it to heat enough. Breakfast was out at that point, because we definitely could not risk a campfire with those kinds of winds. So, we carefully packed up our site and decided to head to town for breakfast/brunch. We stopped in a little town outside the park and grabbed a cup at a local coffee shop before driving further north to Cedar City.
After exploring the little town for a bit, we found a local Mexican restaurant that had THE most amazing food. So good. We moseyed around a bit, and eventually worked our way back down south towards St. George before heading back to Nevada. All-in-all an absolutely lovely time, even though our plans were changed by the weather, and the wind robbed us of some much-needed sleep. One of the most enjoyable camps we have had in a long time. My very soul needed the time we spent in the remote wilderness, away from all the usual distractions. I came away, from just those two days, refreshed and grounded.
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.