High Camp

I try never to camp above timberline. Too risky due to fragility of soil, rapid weather changes with high risk for hard winds, lightning strike and more. But on one occasion solo hiking in Colorado during the summer of 2001 I miscalculated daylight remaining to get to tree line in time for setting camp before dark and ended up having to sleep at this spot above 11,000 ft altitude. Even though it was midsummer and I had a good down sleeping bag and nice new Thermarest mattress, it was still a pretty chilly night to sleep through. Luckily winds were light throughout the night and the spot I chose was in full sunlight at an early hour the next morning. Along with a cup of hot soup heated on a trusty diesel pack stove, the morning sun quickly warmed me up for the hike downhill before inevitable thunderstorms could develop as the day progressed.

Finding a beautiful designated camping area downslope late in the afternoon, I breathed a sigh of relief for having good luck at this emergency campsite, and for the incredible morning view out the tent door.