Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wintergeddon, Part One

An Outdoors and preparedness charity group that I associate with (see how not saying Zombie Squad makes it sound better?) had their winter camping trip this last weekend. The local chapter that I am a part of decided we needed to plan one of those camping trips where it is cold, wet, miserable, and generally an awesome time; we succeeded on three out of four of them. We call this event Wintergeddon.

We had planned for a Saturday morning arrival, the original number of us was to be five. One last minute cancellation and two who didn't want to actually leave the
city limits left us with two, and we both arrived at the park at about 12:30. I had planned on making Venison Chili in a Dutch Oven over an open fire. Unfortunately, I forgot the Venison and had to stop at the small town grocery store in Quitaque (Kitty-Qwai) to pick up some stew meat. They did not have exactly what I wanted, but, in typical small town style, the butcher cut up exactly what I wanted. This led to my fashionably late arrival at Caprock Canyon State Park.

We drove down to our campsite and had our choice of appx 20 campsites to choose from; I would say that we did a very good job choosing the least muddy option. The fine red powdery caliche that forms most of the Palo Duro Canyon are and escarpment is some of the stickiest stuff I have ever see, and it can get everywhere when it is wet, not to mention reducing your friction coefficient to something approaching a Banana peel on a waxed floor. We dragged our bags out and pitched our tents. Every tarp that we had was put to use trying to protect equipment from the mud. I am glad to say that we were moderately successful at this.

With camp done, It was about 2pm and a small hike was in order, we planned a decent six mile hike and headed up the trail along the canyon wall. The weather was nice, about 35 degrees, clear skies and little or no wind. We departed with our small packs with a spring in our step, happy to be enjoying the outdoors. The recent snow and rain storms had not been kind to the trail. The erosion had washed the trail away in a few places, and made some of the switchbacks somewhat treacherous. Due to this we could not locate the second trail we needed and had to take the next trail. Now our hike was looking to be about 7.5 miles. It was no big issue, we had plenty of time, all that we had to do when we got to camp was start a fire and cook the chili. Of course, fate had to intervene yet again, and a unmarked trail, combined with a shitty map led us another mile out of our way. By the time we realized our error, the sun was dipping low into the sky. The terrain would not support an 'as the crow flies' path back to camp, so we hoofed it back up the trail and made it back to camp as the light was fading.

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