Sleeping on the ground was not so great. I had brought two yoga mats for a little cushion under my bag, but had I known we would have slept in a location so near the car, I would have brought the air mattress I had stored away in an extra closet. I even had the capability of inflating this air mattress from the car.
Again, hindsight is 20/20.
I probably woke up every hour on the hour. Each time I awoke, I took a peak around to see what the dog was doing. She was wide awake each time. The dog has radar ears, and she had them tuned in on every single sound. At about 4:30, I awoke to coyotes howling on the opposite side of the canyon. I looked down at the dog and she was tuned in as well. Then, about 100 yards behind our campsite, another pack of coyotes started moving through and howling as well. That dog whipped her head around, and in the moonlight I could clearly see her confused expression. If she could have spoke, her words would have been,
"How did they do that?"
This cracked me up. I watched her whip her head from one direction to another until the coyotes passed.
I must have fallen back asleep, only to wake up at 6:30 in the morning. Some other campers in the area were moving around and I heard a car door slam. Kenzie let out a low growl. I felt confident no one would be able to sneak up on us. The dog was on alert. She really was solid in the campsite. Each time we were outside the tent, she positioned herself in a manner to clearly see up the trail leading into our location. Again, she is a complete goofball when she vacations at my home, but clearly in this environment she was focused and on the job.
After the 6:30 wake up call, I was done. I unzipped my sleeping bag and started looking for my hiking boots. My Part-Timer woke and asked the time. She sort of groaned when she realized I was getting up. She wasn't really ready yet.
I did not come all this way to sleep with you in a tent!
I unzipped the tent and crawled out. My lower back wasn't too happy with me, but once I walked around a bit and stretched out, it started loosening up. I lit a new campfire and my girl got the coffee ready to go on the fire. We knew it would be a bit before our morning infusion of caffeine, so we walked around a bit behind our campsite and took some photos of the sunlight peaking into the canyon.
Remnants of the moon that had aided us the night before...
We goofed around a bit, then went back for our coffee. My girl headed to the car for something and bumped into the ranger we had met the night before. His name is Dawson. I could hear their conversation from my position at the fire. They were both chatting it up. He wanted to make sure we were okay and enjoying ourselves to this point. She made it back to the campsite where we devised a plan. First order of business, hit the showers! Frankly, I wasn't doing a thing until I got a hot shower. My muscles needed it.
We took care of our business at the campsite and piled in the car. We drove around to the showers, grabbed our necessities, then made the best of concrete showers on a cold morning. I will say, the water was hot. Not a lot of water pressure, but enough. Once we were dressed and presentable, we drove to the ranger's station and made the changes for our camping plans. We looked around the gift shop, stocked up on water, and paid our camping fees. Then headed back around to our camp. We had been discussing our plans for the day. My girl usually hikes a specific trail. She had a lot of questions, seeming unsure if I was up to the day's events. I simply explained this was her trip and I was along for the ride. Whatever she wanted to do was okay with me.
She wanted to take a nap.
I did not come all this way to sleep with her in a tent!
She whined and I relented. I told her I would give her thirty minutes. We climbed back into the tent. The temperatures were pleasant at this time, and she fell right to sleep. About 15 minutes later, I hear a truck with a horse trailer pulling around and parking very near us. Then, I heard a horse being unloaded. A person mounting up and they trotted away. I elbowed her at this point.
Your boyfriend is looking for you.
She woke, confused by what I had said. I explained what I just heard and she laughed, oblivious to the fact that Ranger Dawson might even remotely be interested. She was awake at this point. Ready to get up.
I still have 15 minutes.
I tried to go to sleep, but she kept talking to me. I wouldn't budge until the alarm on my phone went off.
Getting up, we packed two small backpacks with water and provisions. Provisions being beef-jerky and snack bars. It was just about noon at this time. We headed out on our hike.
It didn't take long to see fresh hoof prints on the trail.
He's looking for you.
She refused to believe it.
No he's not.
We hiked along for about an hour, stopped to grab a drink of water and a snack. Water out of my pack by the way! It was heavy, and I wanted to lighten my load. It didn't take long and who should pop up on the trail? Ranger Dawson stopped to talk to us. He asked about our route. Told us to make sure to see Fern Cave. Then proceeded to find every reason to keep talking to us. Us being her, not me. He told us about his horse. His life before coming to work at this park. His training since arriving, and the fact that they did search and rescue weekly for visitors. Mostly in the summer months when people would head out in the heat, unprepared. We eventually parted ways. Us heading out. Him heading back the way we'd come.
The trail was pretty easy to follow in the beginning. There are markers with arrows along the way. Then, we came across this one...
Then we came across this one...
Good to know the rangers have a sense of humor.
We continued on.
We had a ton of water and we were enjoying 70 degree weather with a nice breeze.