Ah camping. Why leave my snug summer home in a mountain valley to spend two nights trying to stay dry and warm in front of a sputtering fire? As Mike used to say, quoting a Dilbert cartoon, why don’t we just sleep in the garage and eat bugs?
To answer my own question, there was the thrill of waking up in the middle night to coyotes howling right outside my campsite. If I hadn’t been so snug in my tent, I would have tried to get a peak at them. The next morning, there was the haunting bugles of a bull elk as I hiked through an aspen grove.
I camped below towering Ponderosa pines in Jemez Falls Campground. The objective was to hike in Valles Caldera, a nearly 14-mile volcanic caldera west of Los Alamos. A large portion of the area was burned in a 2011 fire. While the landscape is still scarred, the absence of foliage afforded me great views from the top of Rabbit Ridge.
It is bow-hunting season for elk, which might explain why the only other campers were men who left early in the morning and didn’t come back until well after dark.
As far as relaxation, there is nothing like an evening spent sipping wine and staring into a campfire with no cellphone coverage let alone a wifi connection.