Learning to Succeed through Past Failures

Here at The Outside Voice we love to teach you about using gear, hiking safety and backpacking tips; all based on our own experiences. But what about our bloopers? What made us better and has inspired us to learn?

Consider this article one of our blooper reels. Where you get to see the quieter side of Our Voice. The one less spoken but equally important in shaping who we are today.

One of the trips that always comes up from time to time while sitting around the camp fire is one that we went on back in the early 90’s. There were four of us that ventured up to Long Draw Reservoir up the Poudre Canyon in Northern Colorado off of Highway 14 near Cameron Pass. For those interested here is a map of where all the fun took place ——–> https://goo.gl/zbyl7J

Along with my wife, sister in law and her husband off we went on a very poorly planned weekend getaway. The Canyon was my stomping grounds as a teenager and we were car camping so what could possibly go wrong?

Leaving on a Friday night is always a bad idea when we knew that our destination was a very popular weekend getaway for locals and tourists alike. But that didn’t matter, I knew all the right places to check for prime camping. After about a 2 hour journey in our AMC Concord we arrived at the reservoir after dark and of course there were no camping sites available. So we began our search and after about an hour of driving around we opted for the less than ideal location right off of the main dirt road.

We were in the mountains though and any location is way better than being in town any day under any circumstances. The site we chose actually wasn’t too bad. It had obviously been home to the late coming campers of days past and we began settling in as best we could by headlight.

Being the keen tactician that i’m known to be from time to time (I did what my wife suggested) we divided and conquered. Her and her sister began getting out the Coleman stove to get some dinner going while the men were left to erect the temporary homes of aluminum and nylon.

In setting up the tent that had sat in storage through the long winter I didn’t do a precheck and found that one of the corner straps was broken and therefore could not attach one of the corners to the frame. Ok remember this was in the early 90’s and we were using a cabin style tent to give you a visual reference. No problem, with my leatherman and MacGuyver like skills we had a shoelace repair made and we were back in business.

My brother in law had taken over as camp chef because he felt his Wendy’s experience would prove to create the best hamburger possible. The ladies had began setting up the interior of the tents while I put the finishing touches on my tent repair.

“Dinner is served!” Came the welcome call to all of our hungry stomachs and I ran out to indulge in the wonderfully smelling greasy burger! I took my first couple bites in the dark when simultaneously I heard a yell from my wife and brother in law…

“What the f*ck!” Came the cry from the tent and…

“Don’t eat the burger!” from the camp kitchen!

I looked down at my 1/2 eaten juicy burger as my sister in law shined her light on it to reveal it was as pink and raw on the inside as when it was first formed into a patty.

The good news was that I suddenly wasn’t hungry anymore.

As I stepped into the tent to be sure my wife was ok I found laying on the floor of the tent 2 miniature sleeping bags that may have covered up to my waste. Keep in mind that I am only 5’9″ on a good day and my wife was laughing at the luck. The two brand new sleeping bags were presents given to us by my mother. It has not been confirmed nor denied that she new that she bought us kid sized bags. We were guilty for not checking them before leaving… but who would right?

Luckily (I say this hesitantly) my sister in law had an old, itchy, dirty Mexican blanket in the trunk of her car that my wife and I used to get us through the weekend.

Day one ended without any further incident… I think.

Day two began innocently enough but the morning was chili and you could smell rain moving in. We had an enjoyable breakfast taking in our beautiful surroundings reminiscing about the night before. My wife, being the adventurous soul that she is decided to take the car and do a little exploring while we all stayed behind and continued setting up camp for the remainder of the weekend.

Then the rain began! It was coming down in sheets, definitely a rare storm in Colorado to rain as long and as hard as it did. We began to worry about my wife who still wasn’t back from her expedition and in between trying to stop the leaks in everything we contemplated going out to search for her; which eventually we did.

We got into my brother-in-laws car and headed out only to run into her on the road walking towards us, soaked to the bone about 100 yards from camp. By the looks of her condition she had been walking for awhile… maybe we should have started our search 30 minutes prior!

“OH No, Baby what happened?” I inquired slightly panicked not only by her appearance but also  the lack of our car protecting her from the rare Colorado downpour.

“The car got a flat.”

“You should have waited for us; you knew we would eventually come looking for you.”

“You would have never found me.” Was her quiet reply as she directed us down the road to evaluate the condition of our vehicle.

Driving down the main dirt road she motioned for us to stop at the intersection of an old logging road. We found the AMC Concord station wagon down the trail not too far from the main road with a tire as flat as can be, the rim resting quietly on a huge rock! After a quick inspection we found a large hole in the side of the tire where the air most likely escaped rather quickly!

Fast forward 15 years and my wife got a Jeep Wrangler that she has built up so that she is now sure to never be in the same position again!

My brother in law and I carefully jacked the car up, removed the tire, dropped my wife off at camp with her sister and headed to the nearest town to see if we could get the tire repaired on account of not having a spare tire in the car.

Walden, CO is located about an 1 1/2 from where we were camped and upon arriving in town with the usual looks of suspicion from the locals, we quickly realized that the only tire store in town was closed on Sudays. Our only option was the local convenience store where we were able to buy a plug and temporarily repair the tire. We aired the tire up with crossed fingers and headed back.

By Saturday evening we were packed up and back on the road laughing about our short adventure in the woods figuring it was best to cut our losses and try and get down the mountain before our questionable tire repair began leaking air again.

Obviously we made it home safely without further issue and have a story to tell around the camp fire for years to come!

The lessons we learned range from planning and preparation to being flexible and applying ingenuity to any situation presented to you.

But the most valuable lesson taken away from the weekend was perhaps knowing that even when most anything that could go wrong did, we enjoyed the time as best we could.

Oh and my wife learned that she wanted to build a bad ass Jeep!!



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