The recent rains have turned the deserts a shade of green I've not seen in a long time but that is not all that was renewed this spring. I have a number of friends that I worked with for many years and they have been hosting a large campout every spring since before I first met them. I've missed a number of the get togethers but this year I was able to join them for the telling of stories both old and new, campfires, great food, hiking and more.
I decided to head out a day early and set up some full-on glamping with the trailer and all of the toys I could pack into it. That gave me extra time to explore and try out my hand at a few things before my friends arrived.
It is always exciting to be out in the high desert and this was the first time I brought the expedition trailer to this area.
Sunshine, blue skies and mountains on the horizon.
Pretty soon I had Camp Teotwaki set up in a nice spot just up the canyon from the main gathering area.
High frequency radio antenna deployed? Check!
Solar power system operational? Check!
Did I mention the natural spring water in the canyon? Long ago ranchers tapped it to provide water for their cattle. The ranching operation is long defunct but a local group has re-purposed the system to provide water for the local wildlife.
I captured water in a bucket I suspended on parachute cord inside the tank and below the pipe inlet.
I drew the bucket up and poured the water through a cloth to get rid of small debris that fell into the bucket. I easily filled two 5 gallon containers. It was nice to know of such a good source of water.
They were setting up temporary acoustic logging systems to survey the number of bats that frequented the area's water source.
Bats hunt insects by making ultrasonic calls and using the echo to find prey while in flight. 2010 research in Panama shows that bats can recognize the calls of particular bats, similar to how humans recognize voices of friends and family.
They quickly started setting up their various forms of abodes and there was lots of space for everyone to spread out. Counting myself we had 12 people attending this year.
We had a great group dinner and a long evening at the camp fire. It seems that there were new generations of their families in attendance so introductions were made all around.
The nights proved to become gradually colder each night so the campfires were a welcome way to stay warm. The lowest temperature I measured inside my roof top tent one night was 36 degrees F but I stayed warm with a light sleeping bag and large synthetic quilt over me. We were camped at 5300' in altitude.
Next thing I knew it was dawn and time to look forward to the group breakfast!
Gary and Walt plan the meals and members of the group take turns cooking and cleaning.
Besides consuming tons of great food every day for breakfast and dinner we had lots of other activities planned such as star gazing.
This was great terrain for hiking and offered views back to camp and also the expansive desert vistas.
The rest of us set up a firing range to work on weapons handling, marksmanship and just plain fun.
Can you spot the orange steel plate on the hillside? It 1/4" thick, 16" x 16" square and at a distance of 567 yards or roughly one third of a mile. It is also elevated about 246' above my firing position.
It was hard to capture so much of what went on over the five days and if I receive some pictures from other folks I will add them in. Keep an eye out for updates! Thanks for coming along on another adventure with good friends out in the great expanses of nature. See you on the next trip!