The October 2004 trip included the second time that Hillary and I would go camping together alone. The first being No Planning Camping which was a mere month before.
We had technically been camping together two additional times at this point. Both times were with other folks and both were not really camping trips. (MS Bike Tour 2004 and the 24 Hours of Adrenaline).
Though I'd only been to St. Agnes Wells twice before, I knew I loved it. It's a rustic hot springs in the backcountry past Pemberton. It's gorgeous, by a large river and if you go in the off season, very quiet.
I talked about the first part of the drive before. The second part of the drive to St. Agnes Wells was also illuminating.
The road to the hot springs is a well maintained gravel road that's about a lane and a half wide at most parts. On the way into the hot springs, the right side of the road is often cliffside with a lake or fast moving river at the bottom.
Hillary did not like this.
We had to stop a couple of times at wider parts so she could get out, walk around a bit and generally try to relax. I, and I don't think she, knew how nervous she would get on a skinny mountain road.
I drove that road on the wrong side, hugging the farthest point away from the drop off at all times. That didn't totally make Hillary comfortable, but it certainly made it better.
We got to the campsite and setup in the late afternoon. At the time we arrived, no one else was there. We'd be alone until sometime after 10pm that night when another group would arrive and setup.
So what do you do there? Not much. We had dinner. We soaked in the hot springs for hours. We moved between talking, cuddling and just silently enjoying being around each other deep in the wilderness. It was great.
We would never go back there, though we'd talk about doing it sometime. Before kids we had other places to see. Once kids were on the scene it wasn't really an option, it's not a great place to take small kids. The very few times Hillary and I were able to take short vacations alone after the kids were born, we didn't go for camping trips.
But it was special to both of us. This camping trip was something that made her short list of defining events in our relationship. It made the 10th anniversary display that hangs on my bedroom door.