There’s No Place like Chrome

Posted by on June 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm :: No Comments

When Jason and I visited Kodachrome Basin State Park last fall we noticed a group campsite that was isolated in a beautiful area and my plotting mind instantly recognized its potential as a future base of operation. Thus, when I got nominated to plan our first camping trip of the season I immediately thought of Kodachrome. As it turns out, I am indeed a bit of a scheming genius.

Our group campsite was comparatively plush and superbly situated.

Our group campsite was comparatively plush and superbly situated.

Peculiar boulder and spires knotted the landscape around the Panorama Trail.

Peculiar boulders and spires knotted the landscape around the Panorama Trail.

We usually go camping at least once every summer with a group of our buddies that includes: the Rowleys, the Bresees, and my brother Drew’s family. We’ve stayed in everything from state parks to RV parks on these excursions along with some cozy little cabins. The stress and success of our outdoor outings have varied considerably. Since our recent Kodachrome trip went pretty smoothly, I’d say it now ranks among my favorites.

This "indian cave" contained petroglyphs that were definitely not of prehistoric import.

This “Indian cave” contained petroglyphs that were definitely not of prehistoric import.

Boys will be ballerinas!

Boys will be ballerinas.

That group campsite, as anticipated, ended up being absolutely ideal for our raucous assortment of friends. It was solitarily situated among cresting red hills and equipped with a covered picnic table pavilion, a fire pit encircled by benches, and plenty of flat space for tents. Did I already mention that I’m a genius?

The texture of these wrinkly dirt mounds was fascinating.

The texture of these wrinkly dirt mounds was fascinating.

My morning tea was too hot to drink before our hike but there was no way I was leaving it behind.

My morning tea was too hot to drink before our hike but there was no way I was leaving it behind.

We arrived on Friday evening and spent most of our Saturday hiking. I was impressed with how well the little kids in our group held up. Our first trek took us along the Panorama Trail to such exciting places as the Secret Passage, Hat Shop, and Cool Cave. The Cool Cave, though really an alcove not a cave, was a favorite with the kiddies. It provided plenty of difficult dirt to challenge their climbing skills. Our diverting stops, remarkably, kept the children going for the entire 6 miles of our journey without many complaints. They were all too tired though near the end to make a slight detour to the Panorama Point lookout, which Jason and I checked out on our own. And just for the record, Drew and Jeremy were exhausted from backpacking their tiniest family members around and probably complained more than the youngsters.

The Cool Cave was not actually a cave but it was definitely cool.

The Cool Cave was not actually a cave but it was definitely cool.

The boys climbed up the sides of the Cool Cave much farther than I though they'd be able to.

The boys climbed up the sides of the Cool Cave much farther than I thought they’d be able to.

Jason and I took a little jaunt on our own later that afternoon when lethargy infected the rest of our group. We explored the Grand Parade Trail and its offshoots into a couple of box canyons. The unusual rock shapes and shades in those canyons were the most intriguing parts of this hike.

Kodachrome was full of unusual rock formations including these flinty nuclear smokestack facsimiles.

Kodachrome was full of unusual rock formations including these flinty nuclear smokestack facsimiles.

Later, we got back together with the gang for a trek through Angel’s Palace. We were hoping to catch the sunset from that aerial vantage point but missed it by minutes. Still, this path, which is my favorite at Kodachrome, did not disappoint with its curious colors and slender fingers of precipitous rock. Surprisingly, most of the kids, even after all their earlier walking, wanted to join us for this climb.

Jason and I bought ice cream for everyone at the tiny camp store after our first hike; it was eagerly received.

Jason and I bought ice cream for everyone at the tiny camp store after our first hike; it was eagerly received.

The Grand Parade Trail had its moments.

The Grand Parade Trail had its grand moments.

The weather at Kodachrome was nearly ideal (Yet another detail meticulously accounted for by the genius of Rachel.) but the pleasant temperatures plummeted after dark making the fire pit a very popular spot in the evenings. Most of the adults gathered around the flames’ glow each night until 1:00 AM or so chatting and gazing at the stars, which pricked the sky so numerously in that remote region it’s a wonder the heavens didn’t leak light.

Our line of hikers paused on a ridge while ascending to Angel's Palace making our youngest explorers nervous.

Our line of hikers paused on a ridge while ascending to Angel’s Palace making our youngest explorers nervous.

We barely missed seeing a spectacular sunset atop Angel's Palace by minutes.

We barely missed seeing a spectacular sunset atop Angel’s Palace by minutes.

Our trip was over quickly but even demolishing our campsite on Sunday morning proved exciting. Drew found a small pale scorpion under his tent as he was packing it away. Yes, that’s the kind that’s quite poisonous. Maybe Drew will think twice now about unzipping all of his tent doors at night in a claustrophobic rage. Maybe…

The narrow spines of stone that jut out from Angel's Palace offer a dizzying view of the warped surroundings and the distant ground.

The narrow spines of stone that jut out from Angel’s Palace offer a dizzying view of the warped surroundings and the distant ground.

Jason and I are solid explorers. We never run out of curiosity or steam.

Jason and I are solid explorers. We never run out of curiosity or steam.

Kodachrome Basin was rather fantastic. The temperatures, except for the first night during which we all froze sheathed in our ineffectual sleeping bags, were perfect. The scenery was gorgeous and the stars overwhelming plus the kids handled their explorative exercise unexpectedly well. As with any group as large as ours, some organizational challenges were unavoidable but I think those were pretty minimal this time compared to other camping trips. May all of our tented sprees be as successful as Kodachrome!

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