14. Land of Enchantment
Six Days in the Desert
Easing The Gruffalo away from the curb of Casa Uva late Tuesday morning, we felt both the anticipation that the beginning of an adventure brings and that light, floating feeling you get when leaving civilization (and work and email and cell reception) behind (is that freedom?).
We’ve only had her a few short weeks but in that time, Stéphane has worked his everyday magic customizing The Gruffalo inside and out, top to bottom. Some things you can see, like hooks and a special platform insert in the tub to accommodate Myra; some you can’t (which of course are always the most important and functional): securing our new AGM batteries safely to the camper tongue, fixing a water leak, tightening and/or replacing every last loose screw, and, the BIGGIE, which we are super excited about: the installation of two solar panels which provide us with self-sufficiency, as long as we follow the sun.
Not the best picture but you can just barely see the two solar panels that Stéphane mounted to the roof.
Energy from the sun is collected by the panels and then sent to “the brain”: this charge controller is what sends the power into our batteries when they need it, and stops sending the power once they are fully charged.
The solar panel wires feed inside from the roof through the a/c. From there, into the solar controller, and then down into the batteries. Look at the beautiful work Stéphane did to make the wires disappear.
A few shots of the interior of The Gruffalo. She has way more storage than the Baby Bison, lots of natural light, two bunks, and a queen bed (and she’s smaller, lighter, and has better clearance – yay!).
Hugo sleeps on the bottom bunk and we use the top for storage of blankets, books, and toys.
We’ve found that adding different-sized hooks in strategic places really helps with organization and to keep all the little odds and ends in their places when we’re out camping. We have hooks for headlamps, hats, kitchen utensils, camper keys, bottle opener, jackets, etc. The black magazine rack is home base for the essentials: radios, climbing books, maps, camera.
The dinette folds down into our bed. It requires a little more work around bedtime but we’d much rather have a smaller, lighter camper so the extra work is no biggie.
Plywood platform perfectly shaped by Stéphane to slide onto the bath. Myra’s bed fits on top.
Our first stop was Dolores Canyon, just north of Dove Creek in SW Colorado. We thought we had our directions wrong as we drove past flat farmland down dusty county road 10, then we took a slight left and switched back down, down DOWN into the canyon. Beautiful!
The Dolores River runs through Dolores Canyon. We spent one night here and did some exploratory hiking to check out the climbs.
Lots of pretty lines, and anchors shining in the sun.
Hugo enjoyed the hike, slowly shedding the hat, then the mittens, then the winter onesie as the sun entered the canyon and warmed things up.
He was very interested in the river.
Little man cruising down the road.
Dolores Canyon has some great-looking climbs, very reminiscent of Escalante. Unfortunately, not easy-button climbing with Hugo so we’ll be back with the group to climb.
Next stop, Indian Creek: where red mesas meet bluebird skies; where friends meet up to climb in the sun all day, straggle back to camp, gather around the fire and exchange stories all night. Below is our camp (Cobbler Camp) – you can just barely see our campers and cars lined up along the end of the dirt road in the foreground.
Scraps of paper flutter in the breeze at the Beef Basin Message Board. There is no cell service at The Creek, so this is how people find each other.
Golden Hour at Cobbler Camp.
One by one friends and friends-of-friends roll into camp.
Annie & Fred, Alissa & Colton, Melisa, Stéphane at the base of Bunny Slope (Critic’s Choice Wall). The steep and slippery hike up combined with the exposed areas below the climbs make it hard-button climbing with Hugo. So we switch it up – Stéphane climbs for part of the day while I hike around with Hugo near camp. Then we trade places.
Brian takes a rest.
Meanwhile, back at camp…
Tired climbers return from the crag. Light the fire, crack a brew.
Evening at The Creek.
Ray grills some amazing meats in our oblong-shaped firepit: perfectly-shaped to accommodate both a blazing fire and a bed of coals for grilling.
Those up past their bedtime and alcohol tolerance participate in Stupid Human Tricks.
Wake up, hydrate, and get up that crack! Ray is our off-width (super wide crack) specialist.
Large gear. Heavy rack. Big smile.
Stéphane had some great days on the rock, putting up some gnarly leads.
Up he goes!
And up another…
Meanwhile, back at camp…
Hugo and I went on some exploratory hikes, Hugo learned about cactus and knows to avoid it, and is proving himself to be a little free-range trailblazer.
And he loves his girl Myra (THE most patient, gentle dog in the world).
Tom and Melisa in their happy place. Good to catch up with them and get some T&M (and P&K) time. We miss our Montrose peeps but we are so fortunate to be able to get together with them in places such as this.
Another wonderful desert adventure in the books. Can’t wait to get out there and do it again soon. Come visit so you can do it with us!