Colorado River Canoe Adventure

This was my first ever canoe-camping adventure, and actually crossed something off my “bucket list” — going on a multi-day canoe-camping trip. I’ve kayaked a fair bit before, but have only been canoeing once or twice, and only on lakes, so in very calm water. For this trip, I was lucky enough to just tag along on something organized by Erika’s friend, Tom. He has actually done a very similar trip a few times before, so it was good to have someone who knew the score to point us in the right direction.

We rented canoes through Rimrock Adventures, so we put in at their location in Fruita, and had them pick us up and shuttle us back there (where we left our cars). I found camping in canoes really awesome, and it was closer to car camping than it was to backpacking, in that we could carry a lot of equipment (and beer), without it being a burden. Since we’d just paddle all day, then pull up to a beach-front campsite, we didn’t really need to carry things around much. We also didn’t even need to paddle that much, since the current of the river carried us a lot of the way. We actually had to watch our progress and make sure we weren’t going too fast, and pull over and take a break if we were! Unfortunately, at the last minute we found out there was a fire ban, so we had to keep our meals simple enough to be able to be prepared on a small stove. Bit of a bummer, but not much we could do about it.

The first night we camped at “Cottonwoods 4” campground, which turned out to be a mosquito breeding ground. It was pretty brutal. I’ve never been amongst so many/such aggressive mosquitoes. I don’t even normally get bothered too much, and they attacked me. Others (including Erika) got absolutely mauled. We had to dash back and forth to the tents/waterfront, to try to avoid the worst of it, and all ended up turning in pretty early just to escape to the safety of our tents. That day was our first on the water, and we saw a bald eagle aerial-dogfighting with another bird, battled some crazy canyon-windtunnel-headwinds, and lounged around in camping chairs literally in the river.

Up early the next day, quick breakfast, and bail out from mosquito-town. We got moving, all hoping that our campsite that night was less painful. As it turns out, it definitely was, although it was a bit of a challenge to actually get to. Tom had warned us that it involved some technical paddling to get there, just because you had to make some quick maneuvers across some small whitewater and fast-moving current. I think we were all freaking out a little bit, and so we scouted ahead, figured out exactly how we were going to tackle it, and then headed in, one boat at a time. It was well worth it. Such an amazing campsite. We had our own private, beautiful, sandy beach. Earlier in the day, we also saw an Amtrack train (the line runs right down in the canyon, next to the river) which was pretty fun. Apart from some wind around dusk (my tent blew away and rolled up the hill before I had it staked down!) there was absolutely nothing to complain about at this site. It was gorgeous.

On the last morning, we got moving and kept heading downriver. Towards the end of paddle-time (noon-ish) is when we got into some really flat/open, boring landscape. It was pretty amazing how different it felt to the breathtaking canyons of most of the previous 2 days. We found the take-out, unloaded, waited for our shuttle back to Fruita, then squared up, packed the cars, and headed back to Denver.

I had an amazing time, and it really set me up for my next adventure, a multi-day canoe adventure in the Minnesota Boundary Waters Canoe Area (more on that soon).

Colorado River Canoe Trip
Thanks Caltopo for the custom map!

Camping in Worthington State Forest, New Jersey

Over the weekend, Erika and I went (car) camping with friends Pedro and Genny at Worthington State Forest campground. While it was pretty horribly cold (got down to 27 degrees on the first night!) we had a great time. We got ourselves together and left on Friday night, grabbing a Cracker Barrel dinner along the way. We arrived at the campground at around 10:30pm.

When we got there, someone else was in our (reserved) spot — pretty sure they were just squatting their way around without paying for any spots. Rather than deal with moving them, we told them they could stay, but had to be out tomorrow morning. We got our tents set up and I got a fire started to warm us up. It was pretty brutally cold that night, so we needed it! Since we were kind of amped to be there, we ended up staying up until about 1am around the fire chatting.

The next morning we got up and and had breakfast (bagels with cream cheese, lox and capers), made some lunch to have on the trail then set off on our hike. I picked up a copy of the Kittatinny Trails maps from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference; they make really good quality maps (tyvek, waterproof/tear resistant, nice detail, topo) in advance so that we knew where we were going. Here’s the trail we took (snapped from Map 120 of that map series):

Worthington State Forest Hike

We stopped for lunch a little ways onto the Appalachian trail (the white section), and also took breaks at the intersection of Appalachian/Douglas, and at Sunfish Pond. Note the white “tail” to the right of Sunfish Pond? Yeah we overshot our turn-off and took a while before we believed it and turned around. Oops 🙂 It was a really nice hike, with beautiful fall colors and some good elevation climb. The hike back down Garvey Springs (Orange) was pretty rough (steep), and we had a few ankle/knee complaints (because we’re old!)

I had Moves running most of the time, and according to it, we covered 20 km that day (all day, so includes a bit of stumbling around the campground). The camp spot we had (site 003) was pretty nice, although the fire ring was really tall, so it blocked a lot of the heat and light from the fire, which was annoying. I don’t think they bothered burying it at all. The grounds had nearby pit toilets, and there was a shower/sink block not too far away (which we just ended up driving to, since it was cold).

I’d really like to get back to this campground in the summer and check it out — maybe rent a canoe and try out one of the canoe-camping spots on one of the islands in the Delware River!