This past weekend, my mom came to visit me and my brother. My brother, Chris, is only here for another couple of weeks before he and his girlfriend head back to Chicago. We jokingly asked if she wanted to try camping while she visited and, surprisingly, she enthusiastically said yes!
We planned to meet up with our friends, Lucas, Nancy and Justin, who spent Friday night in 11 Mile Canyon, a Colorado State Park 50ish miles west of Colorado Springs. We met up with them on Saturday morning at Elevenmile Dome in the canyon and harnessed up. We could not have asked for better weather – sunny, mild temps, slight breeze. We truly lucked out with another quintessential fall day in Colorado (see also: Boulder Canyon climbing!).
We climbed Moby Grape, a really fun dihedral rated at 5.7, and Happy Trails, an interesting and slabby route rated at 5.6 (but feels like it should be rated higher). Lucas is the only lead climber in our group so he lead both routes and set up top rope anchors for the rest of us.
Late in the afternoon, we broke for lunch and to wait out the overcast clouds that had rolled in. Lucas, Nancy and Justin found a solid campsite the night before and, because we were car camping, we arrived to camping luxuries like a real campstove, extra chairs around the fire ring and chips and salsa waiting for us in a cooler.
We spent the evening playing with the slingshot, throwing sticks to excited pups and sharing laughs over beers around the fire. My mom, who’d never been camping, was a real trooper and had a great time in the great outdoors. It was really special to show my mom how Alex and I (and Chris and Jenna!) like spending our Colorado weekends – she sees all of our adventure photos online but having the opportunity to share the adventure with her was priceless.
In the morning, we iced the luxurious camping cake with pancakes, sausage and bacon for breakfast. Heavenly! More laughing in the cool October air over warm camp coffee was the perfect Sunday morning, in my book.
We packed up camp and headed back down the canyon soon after breakfast. Lucas, Nancy and Justin opted to climb a multi-pitch route before heading back to town while my family and I headed back into Denver to spend the last few hours of my mom’s visit doing things she wanted to do – eating meals as a family, hanging out and spending precious quality time together.
As usually is the case, saying goodbye early Monday morning was really sad. Family trips seem to feel shorter as I get older; like they say, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. Or, at least, not living in the same city as you. Seeing my family less makes our visits that much more special to me and I savor the moments together.
Okay, sappy family stuff over, back to the canyon: I’m definitely a fan of 11 Mile Canyon and hope to get back soon for more climbing and camping. We just missed peak ‘leaf peeping’ season but I can only imagine how stunning the canyon is when it’s canvassed in golds and bright yellows.