Alexandra Roper

A "Chill" Weekend in the Swell

Alexandra Roper
A "Chill" Weekend in the Swell

On President's Day weekend, we decided to take a trip down to the good ol' San Rafael Swell. Joe is super familiar with the area and there's always tons of AMAZING (and free!) camping spots, so we tend to make our way there at least once a year! It usually makes for a pretty chill, stress-free trip! (You can also watch the video of our whole trip here)

Since we left Friday after work, we knew we were going to end up arriving in the dark, so we were prepared for setting everything up in the dark. We also knew it would be cold at night, but IT WAS COLD. I think it was projected to be in the 20's at night, but it was definitely not that warm. We set up camp, made a campfire, I bundled on the camp chair with the dog under the blankets with me because she needs to be warm too, and Joe made himself some hot dogs. We decided to go to sleep and get an early-start in the morning! 

Campsite #1

Campsite #1

Okay, first off, we have an amazing sleeping bag that our family gave us for Christmas. We've tried winter camping before and we ended up needing to leave because at 9:00 pm, I licked my lips and THEY LITERALLY FROZE TOGETHER. We knew better than to stay there any longer. Don't go camping in the winter unless you have the proper gear. I mean that should be obvious, but we thought our gear would be fine and it wasn't. Another cool thing about the sleeping bag is that it's queen sized, so two bodies, plus a dog all fit in it and can keep warm. And if you're lucky enough to be in the middle (ME!), staying cozy and warm all night was not an issue at all. 

Joe took pictures around our campsite that morning while I slept.... As per usual.

Joe took pictures around our campsite that morning while I slept.... As per usual.

We actually had kind of a late morning. It was cold outside and the inside was warm and cozy and we had dog snuggles and sleeping in (like 8 am) and enjoying the morning was just something that sounded perfect to us! We packed up camp and made our way to Bell Canyon and Little Wild Horse. 

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Little Wild Horse is a beautiful slot canyon, and one that we do almost every time we go to the swell. Every time we go, it gets more and more crowded. However, we've never done Bell Canyon together because when Joe did it when he was younger, he said it isn't very great. We figured YOLO and we made our way up Bell Canyon. IT WAS SO PRETTY AND YOUNG JOE WAS WRONG. Little Wild Horse is better in my opinion, BUT it's also WAY more crowded. We hardly saw anyone in Bell Canyon, but there was TONS of people in Little Wild Horse. We spent more time waiting for people to pass through parts and go around each other than we actually spent hiking. STILL FUN THOUGH. Would definitely recommend checking out both sides of the loop. 

Once we were done hiking for the day, we did a little bit of off-roading in the truck and went to find a new campsite. OH BOY DID WE FIND A NEW CAMPSITE AND IT WAS AMAZING. There were massive, amazing, beautiful rock formations surrounding us. It was secluded and away from noise. It was just, ahhh, I can't even explain how rad the spot was, and it looked like nobody had camped there for a long time, which is weird because AMAZING. (we later found out the downside) That night, Joe experimented with night-time photography and I froze my booty off by the campfire while he took photos. They're super rad though, so the freezing of the booty was worth it. We went to bed, stayed warm, and morning came -- along with the downside of the spot. 

HOLY CRAP THERE'S SO MUCH WIND THERE. Our tent LITERALLY STARTED TO FOLD IN HALF WITH US IN IT. Like, the platform moved and the ladder holding us in place slid and I have no idea how we managed to not fall out of the tent or get crushed by it or something. We are lucky! But the wind was INSANE. I'm not talking just a bit windy, I'm talking like a 130 lb. rooftop tent with people in it folding in half. We hustled to get stuff put away and get the heck outta there and go home. 

Joe's first really real attempt at nightscapes. He's so rad. 

Joe's first really real attempt at nightscapes. He's so rad. 

Overall, it was a good trip with a lot of downtime -- which is just what you need sometimes. Usually when we go, it's like "Let's pack as much stuff as we possibly can into a weekend." So the break in things was kinda nice. :)

I love this dude. 

I love this dude. 

Lessons Learned: Good equipment is KEY for camping in the cold. Dogs make nice space heaters. Sometimes it's okay to use an actual space heater next to the fire because the fire isn't keeping your warm enough. Patience is important always. Turning a corner in the canyon and seeing a chubby corgi frolicking along living it's best life can be the highlight of any kind of day. Going on adventures with your best friend is the best kind of adventure. 

♡Alex

MY FAVORITE PICTURE FROM THE WHOLE TRIP 

Super cropped, out of focus image, but I can't help but bust up laughing EVERY TIME I SEE IT. 

Super cropped, out of focus image, but I can't help but bust up laughing EVERY TIME I SEE IT.