March, 2010: Banta Shut-in, Hot Springs, Petrified Tree, and Stillwell over Mom's Birthday Weekend

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Before we left Dallas, we celebrated Mom's birthday. I made a spice cake but it was disappointing so we were all glad when Mom produced a pie for us to enjoy. Mmm! We loaded up the Suburban as best we could and then had a fun evening playing Wii Sports. Although we did try to go to bed early, I don't think anybody really slept much. We were too excited!

  We left Dallas in the Suburban at 4am (!!) so we'd be sure to get to Panther Junction before they closed. It was a long drive, but a fun one as we all caught up on each other's news. We told jokes and played number games, and the miles melted away under our tires.

Tired but excited, we arrived in plenty of time to reserve our weekend of backcountry campsites. Our first-draft choices were taken, but we happily arranged to have TC1, LN2, and Gravel Pit over the next several days.

The Suburban tip-toed down the Old Ore Road, depositing us at Telephone Canyon 1, our lodging for the evening. We sprung from the car, unkinked our joints, and set up our own little village of tents and sleeping bags. Home sweet home! We had tacos and beer and watched the sun set before rolling into our beds. Mark helped me pitch my new backpacking tent, and we were both surprised by how persnickety it was. But it felt great that night and when I got up, I felt right at home under the stars.

It was quite cold the next morning, but we got around and made a hot breakfast so we'd have our energy. We rolled up our beds, sorted out our gear, packed our sacks, and piled back into the Suburban for the short ride through the sandy road to our dropoff point. Dad said good-bye by the creek bed near the Roy's Peak campsite and took off on his own adventure. We watched him drive away, pushed "Go" on the GPS, and turned our shoes toward Banta Shut-in. Our adventure was just beginning!

Next day: Banta Shut-in Overnight Hike

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