What Fills Your Cup?
What charges your batteries, lights you up, nourishes your soul?
The mountains do that for me. Whether I am hiking, skiing, camping or just walking the dog on a wooded trail, there is something magical about being “out there”. If you share this love the mountain west, I’d love to hear about your favorite way to experience it. Leave a comment below, because I’m creating a wish-list of places to go and things to do.
Backpacking has always been my preferred way of experiencing the backcountry. In recent years, two hip replacements and work limited me to day hikes and a random car camp trips, but those excuses are gone now and the mountains are calling.
Dean and I just finished a spectacular backpack trip to Rainbow Lake in the Zirkel Wilderness area. There’s nothing quite like loading up like a pack mule and heading to parts unknown to make you feel grateful. Grateful that we live in a state that has such a variety of accessible public lands, grateful that I have a life partner that loves the out-of-doors as much as I do, and grateful that I am physically able to once again strap on the ole backpack and send it up the trail.
3 Awesome Tools for the Backcountry
For our Rainbow Lake backpacking trip we loaded up with all sorts of new-fangled equipment gifted to us by our guys - Ben & Jackson. Here is a list of 3 of my favorite new (at least to me) backcountry tools that made our trip that much easier:
- Luci Lights - We bought our first Luci Lights 3 years ago at a street fair in Wilmington, NC. It is perfect for our boat because this inflatable solar charged light will light up our cockpit on a dark night without using our precious boat power. We now use Luci Lights for backpacking and all types of camping. Just strap it on the back of your pack to charge, then inflate and use when the sun goes down. They can be purchased at most sporting goods stores, REI and some Walmarts for about $15.
- Platypus Gravityworks Water Filter System - With our new gravity-fed water filtering system, we just scoop water into the "dirty" water pouch and let gravity filter water and fill our bottles with clean water. We certainly don't miss our old system that required us to stand in a stream while awkwardly pumping water into a bucket. We purchased our Platypus water filter at a local outdoor store, but you can also find them at REI.
- Wildflower Identification Bandana - Last year my dear friends gave me a bandana that shows common wildflowers of the Rocky Mountains. I tie it to the outside of my pack where it's available to wipe my sweaty face and also help me identify wild flowers along the trail. For $15 they can be purchased online from Boulder Bandanas or check out their list of locations throughout the state.
Hikers are the Best People
We only saw a few people on our hike to Rainbow Lakes. Somewhere along the trail I lost my wildflower bandana. I hiked back down the trail to find it...but it was gone. Thankfully, when we returned to the trailhead after a few days, some kind hiker had tied my bandana to a sign. Thank you dear anonymous hiker!
A final thought...one of our new backcountry tools is a Jetboil stove. I didn't add it to my "awesome tools list", because frankly, I'm not loving it. I managed to scorch most of our food in it during our first outing. What am I missing? Our boys love theirs, but then they are just using it to boil water. I'd appreciate your Jetboil thoughts...just put them in the comment section below.
Loved your review and especially the magic of the bandana story!
I love my wildflower bandanna- thanks for giving it to me Dr Laurie & Geri!
WOW!!! Hikers are great, aren't they! Cool equipment. It sounds like a great hike. How far is it to the lake? How long were you there? It must have been great.
It was about 4 miles into our camping site. We stayed two nights and used the middle day to fish and hike up to Slide Lake above. Luci Lights and the Wildflower Bandana make great gifts for your out-doorsy friends!
Oh Karen, how quickly you’ve forgotten the 3 foot high “tower of flame” which threatened to torch us and the surroundings every time I started up the old backpacking stove, and the messy fuel and the crumpled foil shield, and the fact that it threatened to fall over every time I tried to turn over the eggs, and in my mind, it was just as good at burning the food as the Jetboil (at least under my control!!!). . . . I love the Jetboil as it is compact, lighter, easier to light and more efficient than the old one. But that’s just one guy’s opinion!
You're right, the old stoves were really sketchy. Perhaps I should resign myself to only eating foods made with boiling water (instant oatmeal and freeze-dried foods) when we're backpacking - they're much easier to pack, but no fun.
Wonderful to see you two up at one of our favorite places!! I see you got a great pic of our North Park Polar Bear...oldtimers tell the story that when you can still see the Polar Bear shape on Mt Ethel snowfield on July then the ranchers will have plenty of water to grow our lucious North Park hay crop! Thanks for the new equipment tips! Happy backpacking!!
Fabulous story - I've never heard of the North Park Polar Bear! I hope that you're right about water for the ranchers, they need it. You say that Rainbow Lakes are one of your favorite places...what are the others?