Family Camping Trip in the Beautiful Rockies

My beautiful Montana Mountains. One of the many places I will always call home.

There are very few years in my life where I have missed a summer camping trip. We usually take at least one, sometime around Father’s day, to unplug and get away from everything for a few days, soaking in the beauty that is my magnificent state. It’s always great, perhaps this year especially of all years. This year was especially a year of calming and healing and growing together as a family, and it was fun and distracting too.

Dad and Christian went up to

Road beyond Absarokee, MT. (Pronounced Ab-Zor-Key for those out-of-staters who will no doubt get that wrong)

the campground on Thursday night, and so I solo drove up directly after work on Friday. The campground chosen was up above the small town of Fishtail, Montana, and a decent 2 hour drive from Billings, but it was a gorgeous one and very worth it. I finished my audiobook What’s Wrong with the World by Chesterton. I disagreed with most of his points, but found them thought provoking and interesting, and a worthwhile read.

 

Emerald Lake Campground

It’s not my first time camping at Emerald. We went as kids. Besides the local reservoir it is the closest body of water to drag our kayaks too. It’s a beautiful lake, with a lot of memories tied to it. Dad told me how his family used to camp out here long before I was born, how they’d always drink Shasta Creme Soda and how jealous his brother would be if we had only been thoughtful enough to bring some creme soda with us so we could send him a picture of us all drinking it without him. (Ah, brothers)

 

Trying to be all artsy and get a picture of my kayak in the water. Not sure it quite worked.

The creek flowing into the lake. With mountains. And clouds. And blue, blue sky.

Dinner was on me the first night, chilli and homemade cinnamon rolls. Yum! Tim and Jenna showed up not too much later, and pitched their camp. We huddled around a toasty campfire and caught up, laughed, talked, and tried not to inhale too much acrid smoke. I crashed with Christian in his tent, and managed not to freeze to death, (Which always comes down to bringing a few more blankets than you think you’d need. I could have used just one more…)

The next day was boating day! Tim and Jenna have a canoe, Christian and I have kayaks, and Dad just got a pontoon boat. After a breakfast of Tim’s camping biscuits and gravy, we took them up to West Rosebud lake, which is right next door. It’s technically a smaller lake than Emerald, but it has more tree coverage and character, so it was a great place to avoid the wind and paddle around the coast.

Dad quickly got a hang of his new water craft.

Me, pre-sunburned because I forgot sunscreen on my arms.

Christian does not care that is not a fishing boat. Christian fishes in any boat.

Jenna and Tim parked their canoe and enjoyed the coast, playing catch with their dog, Paige.

Christian said this hammock was probably the best $80 he ever spent. I agree.

At that point Tim and Christian decided they should paintball in the woods, which would be particularly fun, but I was tired and Dad and I both sunburned. So we headed back to camp and did some reading. I was reading The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor. Her short stories are well crafted and unexpected. Not perhaps the happy feeling at the end type, or even full on twists and darkness like Poe, but a (good) sense of unease and thought. I didn’t read long right then, however, because I fell asleep on Christian’s hammock.

I for sure recommend you go to the mountains with a hammock and take a nap beside a burbling creek. It’s absolutely wonderful.

Dinner was brats (Grilled to get some color and then boiled in beer, chicken broth and onions for 20 minutes, which is perfection, by the way), French Onion dip and chips, fruit salad, and pork and beans.

Dad can be a reluctant selfie participant, but I make him take them anyway

Tim, Jenna, and Christian took the boats out one more time, but I hung back with Dad and we sat on the rock clustered shoreline and watched as they paddled around. He was working on his photography schools, and he was telling me he used to do it as quite the hobby and wanted to get back into it more. I worked on writing a letter to Amy.

Dessert was hot chocolate with Captain Morgan Loconut rum (Tastes like a Mounds bar, YUM!) and s’mores around the fire. I tried a few different types of s’mores for fun. Dark chocolate, white chocolate… all good. BUT! As ingenious a camping discovery as the aforementioned hot chocolate, I used dark chocolate with chili in a s’more. Oh. So. Perfect. S’mores will never be the same again.

We called it a pretty early night, as we were all a bit tired. The next morning we had more awesome breakfast from Tim’s Camp Kitchen, this time bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches with a toasted bagel bun. We really did have quite the awesome menu for this little adventure, didn’t we?

Christian and I took the kayak’s out for one last run in the morning, this time on Emerald. The creek that ran past our campground perfectly poured into Emerald lake, and we simply launched our kayaks into it and rode it down. Getting them back up was harder, and I have the bruise to prove it, but it was very worth it.

We packed up camp, and started the trek homeward. I came home and washed my car, and then crashed and took a long nap. Apparently I had some sleep to catch up on still, or perhaps didn’t do as much catching up as I thought over the weekend. But either way the trip was amazing and fun and relaxing and what I really needed.

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