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Elevation Camping - Part 3


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Camping off the grid is a very satisfying thing for Betty and I. It fits into our out of doors campsite style quite well. Camping off the grid with total comfort does need a bit of thought though, especially when it is at high elevation. Both early and late in the camping season up high, the temperatures will drop below freezing at night for brief periods of time. And yet, just before sunrise each day, the temperature starts climbing to comfortable levels quickly.

Even though we are camping at elevation, we turn off everything in the Ollie and crack a couple of windows open for the night. This lets us hear the wonderful night sounds and gives the dogs opportunity to alert us to any critter prowlers. First thing in the morning, after quickly flushing and brushing, I go outside with the dogs because we are visitors in the wild kingdom and pets are usually viewed as a threat or a meal, by the full time resident critters. Remember, that leash keeps them safe.

Generator box mounted on the Oliver's tongue.

One of the first chores of the day is to start the generator, to top off the battery's and give Betty full use of appliances such the microwave, etc. Older generators sometimes require a little more choke to start and run at elevation, but the newer ones seem to handle it better. If the solar panels have overnight snow on them, it is brushed off to give the first rays of sunlight ready access to the photo cells. In this particular campsite the king dome couldn't see to the Southern Horizon ( we used a tripod dish ) and the solar panels were shaded at mid day by the giant old growth fir trees, so we got a head start on battery topping off when ever we could.

Trujillo Oliver Snow

Kicking up the campfire is among the earliest of chores, not only for heat but for the gentle smoke it provides. That smoke will displace the mosquitos that will be out as soon as it warms up a bit. Those dadgum' skeeters are one reason that the nearby lake is full of trout so we don't let them fret us too badly, just kind of use the smoke to displace them a bit. At elevation the skeeters are not out after dark like they are at lower elevations, but instead are out during the day when it is warm enough for them to fly. The Ollie's great screens keep the mosquitos out but as we go in and out a few will find their way in. That is when we use the ceiling fan on exhaust mode to trap them until they expire.

Though we are in a remote area we find that our satellite receiver lets us get the news and weather to plan the day's activity's. For example an approaching weather front may cause us to do laundry and get grocery's today because the highway passes could be closed when that weather system arrives tomorrow. Our entertainment system will let us search for local news stations that will advise of vehicle accidents, man hunts and so on and so forth. Do we spend a lot of time with communications, no, but we do check for updates during a second cup of coffee at mid morning.

Cutting firewood to a large extent will depend upon the local USFS or BLM regulations. However, at this time there is so much dangerous fuel overburden on the forest floor, because of the Emerald ash borer killing off so much forest, that it is often times permissible. Our favorite wood to harvest for camp wood is the red fir tree. It cuts easy, splits well, is light weight to handle and it's aromatic smoke is a pleasant thing around camp. When sawing the red fir, cut immediately above or below a ring of limbs to make it easier to split. We always save a large base cut for a chopping block. Turning a bolt of firewood on it's side and cutting with the grain will result in piles of thin shavings to start a fire with. Here is a look at some of those large light weight firewood bolts around the campfire waiting to be split.

firewood bolts trujillo

Notice the folded tarp in the background, it is there to cause the prevailing breeze to gently eddy the light smoke about camp to chase away mosquitoes. That tarp is held in place with tarp straps that do not damage the trees. We don't use nails and remove them whenever we come across them.

Sometimes during monsoon season you will be up inside of the clouds during a storm. Now, that thunder can be both pretty cool and scary at the same time because the moisture in the air lets the sound travel much faster, your ears can't tell how far away or what direction it came from !

I guess that the bottom line for us is that we recognize these elevation differences, marvel over their uniqueness and make small adjustments for them as we enjoy all that nature has to offer.

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