Monday, June 16, 2014

3 Nights in the Crystal Forest (and My Favorite Camp Dish)

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed. And to have my senses put in tune once more."
~John Burroughs
Last week my husband and I made the spontaneous decision to get out of Denver and off the grid so we went camping for a few nights in the Rocky Mountains. While our favorite quinoa dish cooked, I packed a few layers of warm clothes, and Sean threw our camping gear into the back of the truck (affectionately known as the art mobile - that is, when it's not being used for camping).  

Enjoying the sunset.

With my sketchbook, and drawing utensils, packed, our adventure began. We purchased some bundles of fire wood as we drove through the small town of Sedalia. Less than an hour later, we entered Pike National Forest - or what I nicknamed the Crystal Forest. You'll see why... 

Entering Pike National Forest - or what I nicknamed the Crystal Forest.
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For the next 3 nights, and 4 days, we hiked, explored, and built camp fires. Sometimes we sat in silence. Other times we sat in wonderment and awe as the rocks replaced our meditation cushions and nature became our church.
Mountain view from one of our hikes.
When I wasn't bird watching, collecting crystals, hunting for wild flowers, or doodling beside the camp fire, I was snapping LOTS of photos. And since they say a picture is worth a thousand words, the rest of this blog is in pictures (with captions).
Live creatively - even when you take a break to live in nature,

P.S. For the recipe of our favorite camp dish - it's super easy and SO healthy and delicious! - scroll to the bottom.
Another mountain view. This one has snowcaps!

Sean loves that Rampart Range, within Pike National Forest, allows his street legal dirt bike.
Trail guides indicate "Easiest" to "More Difficult."
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"Be Bear Aware." We're not in Denver anymore...

Yet another mountain view. This one is from our camp site. 

Our home away from home.
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Car camping. This is as rough as I rough it.
(And no, there isn't a bathroom and the closest outhouse is a few miles.)
It wouldn't be a Colorado summer without a hail storm on a sunny day.
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Sean the wood chopper.

Wild flowers.
Taking in the view.
A winged  one.
Quartz crystals. The one on the right is larger than a softball!
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Crystals were EVERY where! So I nicknamed Pike National Forest the Crystal Forest.
Sean on kitchen duty.
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Doodling by the camp fire while the sun sets.

Camp fire doodle 1.
Inspired by wisdom of mountains and vibration of crystals. 

Camp fire doodle 2.
Inspired by wisdom of mountains and vibration of crystals.
Camp fire doodle 3.
Inspired by wisdom of mountains and vibration of crystals.

Sean the fire starter.

Stoking the fire.
Our favorite quinoa dish is a camp staple.
Crystal Forest Quinoa
Serves 8

12-oz package of sprouted quinoa (we buy the truRoots brand from Whole Foods)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup dried cranberries (or cherries)
1 cup raw unsalted chopped pecans
4-5 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp sea salt, plus additional to taste (optional)
Combine 12-oz of truRoots Sprouted Quinoa with 4 cups water in a pot. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Quinoa is cooked when each grain is translucent and white germ is visible. Let quinoa cool to room temperature before adding additional ingredients.

While quinoa is cooling, measure and mix wet ingredients; set aside. Measure dried cranberries, chop and measure pecans, and slice scallions; set aside.

Once quinoa has cooled to room temperature, add wet ingredients to pot. Stir well. Next, add dry ingredients to pot. Stir well.

Can be served same day, but we think it tastes even better if served the next day. We prefer to eat it chilled. Freezes well for up to 4 weeks.

Download and print a PDF of this recipe here.


  1. Wow! What an amazing getaway! Thanks for sharing this trip with us, the crystals are like the icing on a cake. :)

  2. Thank you Indigene! It's good to get away from time to time. And it doesn't have to be far or expensive. xo