Monday, December 13, 2010

camping, interupted

We have been itching to try out some cold weather camping for a while now and as the months passed by we figured we better go soon before it gets too cold that we wouldn't be able to. So we planned to go this passed weekend. On Thursday Jeremy and I headed out to Bass Pro Shop, Walmart and Old Navy to gather up the last few items that we needed for a successful trip. We got Espen some cold weather gear including a super adorable pair of all weather, waterproof hiking boots and a little puffer coat and gloves and I had to buy some long johns and a hoodie as well as socks (I know, but I hate socks). We got one extra sleeping bag and we were all set. On Friday afternoon we were going to head up to our favorite campsite near Camp Geronimo. Things were looking good.

It was Thursday night that Jeremy read that Camp Geronimo was having a prescribed burn so the campground was closed. Jeremy spent all night looking up campgrounds and on Friday morning we figured it out, Knoll Lake Campground on the Mogollon Rim was going to be our destination.

We scrambled in the morning to pack up Big Fancy in time to get Espen out of school at noon and head on out. I'm not exactly sure how it happened but we didn't end up on the road till close to 3pm. Normally we go in the summer/spring but during this time of year the daylight hours are shortened considerably. According to my navigation it was going to take us 3.5 hours to get to the site...and it did. About 2 hours into the trip we were on the Rim approaching the forest roads that would take us to Lake Knoll. It was at this point that I sent my mom a text message letting her know where we were heading. As we drove deeper and deeper into the forest Jeremy would periodically ask me where we were and I would laugh and ask him 'do you really want to know' since my navigation said it would be 1.5 hours before we reached the site. The farther back we got the scarier it got since the roads were in pretty choppy condition and there was snow everywhere, all over the road which made me a bit panicky. I think I told Jeremy to slow down (he was going 20 MPH, if that) about 100 times. At this point it was getting dark and right before we lost cell service, about a mile away from where we ended, I sent my mom the last couple of text messages I could, joking about Jeremy putting the tent up in the dark.

After 1.5 hours we turned off the forest road 300 up the 295 towards Knoll Lake. The actual campground at the lake was closed so we didn't end up driving the entire 295. Instead we saw a numbered campsite on the right and pulled in to see what the sites were like. There were no campers, no tent, just a make shift spit for cooking and a pile of fire wood. We weren't sure what was going on there so we turned the car around, bounce over the ice. mud and snow and headed up the road another half mile. On the left was the next numbered site. We pulled on in and Jeremy got to work, scrambling to get the tent up with the sliver of light that was left  through the trees.


Before we knew it the sun was down, the site was dark and all Jeremy had to work with was our lantern, which is an incredibly powerful light source, but for putting up the tent Jeremy needed just a bit more. So while he put the tent up, Espen and I got into our cold weather gear and every few minutes I was kick the headlights back on to give Jeremy a bit more light. The next thing you know, the tent is up and Jeremy is unloading our gear from the back of Big Fancy. All I remember is Jeremy asking why the interior lights weren't on and then asked me to try to turn the car on. I leaned over from the passenger side and turned the key. The click click click from the front of my car was not very comforting. Jeremy yelled at me to shut the doors on the car, pull the cell charger out and try it again...and again, I got nothing. So that was it. We were  an hour and a half into the forest with a dead battery and no cell service. I turned my phone off to reserve all the charge, it was fully charged when I turned it off. At this point we knew there was nothing we could do so we tried to make the most of the incredibly chilly night.

We got our fire going, got bundled up and tried to get acquainted with the site in the dark. Everything looks different at night in the forest and without really knowing the surroundings since we rolled in at night, I felt a bit uneasy, but we still had fun. Espen was beyond excited that there was snow, I was beyond excited that Jeremy bought me a bottle of wine. Espen didn't last very long and before we knew it he was in the tent asleep. I love night time in the forest. Jeremy and I always walk away from our tent with just a flashlight and once we're out of the light from the lantern we turn the flashlight off and look at the sky. Every time I get chills. The stars at night away from the city are just incredible.  After our walk I got super cold and we decided to call it a night.

Jeremy did an awesome job of setting up the inside of the tent as well as the tent itself. He had a down blanket on the ground, sleeping pads on top of the blanket, sleeping bag, pillows and my 2 favorite blankets Puppy Blanket and the Jo Bros. blanket. We changed into our jammies which for me included thermals, sweatpants, hoodie, 3 pairs of socks, hand and foot warmers and a beanie. It got below 30 during the night, we think it was around 25 from what the weather reports said today. We're not sure about Espen but Jeremy & I both tossed and turned all night. I was really warm, except for my face so all night I'd wake up and touch my nose and get a little worried. The next thing you know the sun was up and along with it was Espen. I was dead tired but that didn't stop Espen from jumping all over me asking if he could go out and play.

After breakfast we decided it would be a good idea for me to hike up the road and try to call my mom to let her know what was happening with our car. So, with Jeremy's gun on my hip I headed out the campsite till I reached the road. I remember losing cell service just up the road so off I went. While walking up the road I turned my cell phone on and wouldn't you know it, the battery was drained. This is when I began to panic a bit. With my eyes glued to my phone I walked then ran for almost 20 minutes up the dirt road, which was more like a hill, till I saw one measely little bar appear on my phone...then just like that it went away. I freaked out and dialed 911 thinking maybe somehow I would get through but I got nothing. I knew we would be fine out in the forest for another couple of days, I just wanted someone to know that we had no way of getting back on our own without help. So, as I walked along the bars came back on my phone. I stopped dead in my tracks and called my mom. She took what seemed like for ever to answer and before she even finished hello I blurted out "My phones battery is about to die, our car battery is dead and we are in the middle of no where". My mom was in a bad area and when she told me she'd have to call me back I lost it. I was standing there in the cold, crying my eyes out, repeating CALL ME BACK CALL ME BACK to myself. I grew impatient so I called my dad who answered the phone right away. "Papa! Is Ma with you?" "Ya, somewhere, hang on...(to the lady at jack N' the Box) I'll take 2, uh, no 1 of the chocolate, no make that vanilla..." "PAPA! Where's MA! Did she tell you what's going on!!!" Right then my dad yells at me about finding a car to give us a jump, "We're in the middle of no where, there are no cars!!"...right then my mom grabs the phone, she's almost laughing at my hysterical outbursts as I'm trying to tell her our location. I told her I just need to know that you or someone will send help because when I hang up this phone it's not coming back on. She told me not to worry and I told her I love her and hung up. At that point I felt like I was on the dark side of the moon, in Apollo 13, signing off. A little dramatic, I know, but still, it was SCARY!

That was it, that was all we could do, just sit there assuming someone would come to our rescue. While we were waiting Jeremy decided to head out to the other campsite to grab the unused firewood. While Espen and I waited we built a rinky dink snowman and goofed off while trying to stay warm. After what seemed like over an hour Jeremy came back empty handed. He went the opposite direction of the campsite with the logs and wandered up the road trying to find it...uh, wrong way Jeremy...the other site was only a 10 minute walk up the road. "That's why I couldn't find it!" Oh man. Too funny. I'm not sure how long it took but a couple of hours later the tow truck arrived. A big burly man from Payson and a portable battery charger saved the day. After about 10 minutes and $175 later we were good to go. We left our car running for a while while we made lunch and some much needed coffee and sat around the fire, trying to relax.

Around 3:00pm Jeremy and I were talking about what might happen to the car if we stayed another night. I was convinced that the cold air would suck the life out of the battery and we would be doing this all over again tomorrow, so that was it, we decided to pack up and head home a day early. I was so bummed, I know Jeremy was too. The site was so great, the snow was so much fun to play in but we just couldn't take a chance with our car.

It took us over 2 hours just to get out of the forest. At one point we came to a fork in the road that had 2 signs, both signs had arrows pointing opposite directions that said FR95. We sat there for a few minutes just cracking up, how the hell do you get out of this forest! We took a right, but the road was up hill and treacherous so we turned around and went the other way...we drove for about 9 miles till we saw a sign that said FR300 8 Miles, but the 87 was 24 miles from there so we turned around again, went back to the fork in the road, went up the crazy hill we had turned on before and after another 18 or so miles (30 minutes on the crazy rock road) we found the highway! Once on the highway we thought we were good to go until we started up a hill and the car started clanking. Needless to say, we drove on the beeline highway from Payson to Fountain Hills going 35-40 MPH. We didn't get home till 10PM, 4.5 hours after we left. The whole battery, stranded in the middle of the forest didn't stop us from having a nice time. Here's what we did...


{the view from the Mogollon Rim}

{another view of the sunset on the rim}

{jeremy, keeping warm}

{espen with his cap turned to the side 'like a skateboarder'}

{the gloves didn't fit, oh well. he had to paw at everything, it was pretty funny}

{makin' some eggs. bacon & eggs in the forest, perfection}

{steeeeerike 3, you're out!}

{note: i am packin' heat, watch out elk!}

{espen up to bat during our snowy version of baseball}

{frosty: from the side, he's only about 4 inches thick, but he looked cute from the front}

{frosty's view of Big Fancy}

{we surrounded him in snowmallows}

{hurray for this guy}

{thought for a minute he wasn't coming back. he had to follow the tow truck guy to where he could get service and charge us our arm & leg for the jump}

{a man, a stick, some hot dogs and a beer. this is camping}

{a fancy lunch in our tent}

{this is how I stayed warm, Toasty Toes in my gloves and socks}

{jeremy said i had too many layers, i say, not enough. 3 pairs over thermals}

{espen's lips were turning blue so i was wrestling him to trying to give him kisses and warm him up}

{no more blue lips}

{espen wanted to be a leopard, i did spots on his back and belly too}

{little man in a tent}

{we put this bucket out for aaa to find us, jeremy made the 'directional signage' out of a stick & two rocks, pretty smart if you ask me}

{incredible views up there on the rim, if you've never been you need to, now}

{the sunset as we made our way back home}

1 comment:

Twins & Co. said...

You're back to blogging! Love it!