Camping Again

Colorado's only real fall color is a very pretty yellow-gold. You can se some of the aspen leaves dispersed throughout the pine trees.
Colorado's only real fall color is a very pretty yellow-gold. You can see some of the aspen leaves dispersed throughout the pine trees.

Last weekend Jess and I wanted to get one last camping trip in before the end of the summer. We were pretty busy, so we couldn’t hit the road until Saturday morning. We were going to go up to the national park, but it turns out it was the last weekend of the year that they take reservations, and everything was reserved. So, we did a little searching and discovered that some of the campgrounds along the Peak to Peak highway were still open.

Come Saturday we got up relatively early and finished packing up our stuff. Most of our gear was already packed from the previous weekend’s aborted trip, but we still had to pack up the cooler. We were supposed to meet our friend Elijah in Boulder at 10:00, but by the time we were leaving the house it was clear that we weren’t going to make it there that early. As things turned out, Elijah needed a few more minutes as well, so everything worked out pretty well.

Jess and Phoebe hiking and smiling.
Jess and Phoebe hiking and smiling.

There were a few nice spots left when we got up to the campground, so we picked the most wooded one and set up our camp. Elijah was planning to sleep under the stars, but we brought a 2nd tent just in case he wanted it. We’d end up setting it up too, but despite some ominous clouds and a couple of late afternoon sprinkles, it never really rained.

We decided to skip lunch and went for a little afternoon hike. Somehow we walked right past the trails and ended up following the road for a couple of miles. We had some fun watching a guy ride his ATV through a giant mud puddle that enveloped a short stretch of the road.The rider was dressed more appropriately for the Saturday cruise ride to Kermit’s than a 4-wheel drive road. Elijah thought he looked like Sylvester Stallone’s character Cobra from the movie with the same name. I’m not sure how he managed to stay mud-free, but he looked relatively clean when he cruised through the campground again later that evening.

Here is one of the images I shot using the Nikon pointed towards the Orion nebula. The images was a 30 second exposure at f/4 with a 24 mm lens and the cmos sensor was set to an ISO equivalent of 3200. You can see the faint glow from either the rising sun or Denver, I can't say which.
Here is one of the images I shot using the Nikon pointed towards the Orion nebula. The image was a 30-second exposure at f/4 with a 24 mm lens and the cmos sensor was set to an ISO equivalent of 3200. You can see the faint glow from either the rising sun or Denver, I can't say which.

While we were navigating the same giant mud puddle on the return trip, Jess managed to step directly into the mud. Turns out it was about ankle deep. Of course she blamed me for not rushing to her aid, but I mean, how would another pair of wet boots have helped us? Phoebe slept most of the hike out, but was awake and happy for most of the return trip.

When we got back to camp, we hopped into the car and made a quick trip to Nederland to pick up some firewood and beer. We were in such a hurry to leave town we’d forgotten to pick up a six pack, so we thought it might be interesting to get a growler from the little smoke house and brew pub on the main drag in Ned. We’d first discovered the place a year or so ago after doing a little mountain biking on the West Magnolia trails with Andy and Gretchen and rather liked the beers we sampled. This time around we agreed on a pretty hopped-up IPA style beer.

Back at camp, we grilled up some brats and made up some garlic mashed potatoes. Elijah cooked a grilled cheese on the fire grate, and we all enjoyed a cup or two from the growler. It didn’t take long for the sun to disappear and Phoebe’s bed time to roll around. Since we’d only picked up one little bundle of wood, the timing worked out pretty well. Everyone went to bed and I poured a couple of gallons over the fire to make sure it was out. The Fourmile Canyon fire was only a few weeks ago, so¬† fire safety was on the top of all of our minds.

This shot was an 88 second exposure pointed along the Milky Way. You can see a couple of other galaxies as well if you look closely. Here I boosted the contrast a bit and used a little unsharp mask to help the fainter stars stand out from the background. I also used the camera's built-in dark frame subtraction.
This shot was an 88-second exposure pointed along the Milky Way. You can see a couple of other galaxies as well if you look closely. Here I boosted the contrast a bit and used a little unsharp mask to help the fainter stars stand out from the background. I also used the camera's built-in dark frame subtraction. You can also see a little shooting star that luckily crossed part of the field of view.

As I mentioned before, there were a few light sprinkles, but the sky was already clearing by the time we made it into the tent. I planned to get up in the middle of the night in order to take some star photos with the new camera if everything looked clear. We’d also forgotten the changing pad we’d used as a baby-sized sleeping pad, so we put little Phoebe between us to help keep her warm. She again slept great, even if her hands and feet got a bit colder than I would have liked. I, on the other hand, got pretty cold taking photos in the middle of the night and couldn’t warm back up once I returned to the tent.

The next morning, we switched things up a little and Jess cooked some breakfast while I packed up our tent. We headed back into town so that Jess could do a little more of her Phoenix work. We also had some friends from church coming over for the first gathering of a new discussion group that sprung phoenix-like from the ashes of the book group. I managed to get everything ready with Jess’s help just in time for the hordes to arrive.

This is another shot of Orion composed from 5 separate 20 second exposures stacked together using Deep Sky Stacker. I though I'd get a bit more detail, but I guess the seeing wasn't as good as I thought, or I've got a few things to figure out about stacking exposures. Probably a bit of each. Again I boosted the contrast a bit and applied a little unsharp mask to get the final image.
This final image of Orion is a composite from 5 separate 20-second exposures stacked together using Deep Sky Stacker. I though I'd get a bit more detail, but I guess the seeing wasn't as good as I thought, or I've got a few things to figure out about stacking exposures. Probably a bit of each. Again I boosted the contrast a bit and applied a little unsharp mask to get the final image.

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