Where Google Maps Stops: Shabbat in the Colorado Wilderness
By Scott Bratt, OneTable’s Colorado Hub Manager
“LOOK FOR THE PINK TAPE.” Those were the directions given to the 22 participants of our Colorado Wilderness Nosh:pitality. “Google maps will take you as far as Upper Gilpin Road and I’ll post a picture of the hand-drawn map so you can get to the camping spot, but you’ll need to look for the pink tape to find it.”
There’s something comforting about this primitive process of hand-drawn maps, limited cell service and 4-wheel drive roads…but that seems to be how it is in Colorado: we have an eager willingness to adventure beyond comfort. With no bathrooms, no running water, and limited resources, you’re forced you to be crafty, inventive, and resourceful, which made for an incredibly unique OneTable Nosh:pitality experience.
Early Friday, one of our incredible Shabbat Coaches (and wilderness expert) Gary Brandt and I set up the camping area with with tarps for shade, shelter and keeping the food cool, and a designed an area for hanging out. After a quick round of disc golf–a course that past campers had set up on trees around the campsite–we waited to see if people would be able to make it. One by one, cars started filing in and everyone got set up and settled. It was a spectacular feeling when everyone had arrived and made it safely. We set up the fire while people gathered around, forming the circle that would remain for the rest of the night.
After everyone was around the fire, Gary led an icebreaker to welcome us to the space and to this one-of-a-kind Friday night community dinner. After the ritual, we sat around and ate chicken and veggies wrapped in tin foil, made s’mores, threw back some cold ones, and played a little music…following all the unwritten rules of camping.
The next morning led off with our camping connoisseur, Gary, making eggs to order and Turkish coffee. What a man! Once everyone finally came to, he set the stage by discussing four types/levels of campers. He geniusly–and thoroughly–went through everything from clothing, gear and setup for each camper, helping us understand which type we were and how to get to where we want to be. For instance, comparing a backpacking sleeping pad to an inflatable air mattress, or a gas grill to a pocket stove, explaining to which category each one belongs. Continuing this theme throughout the course, he helped us truly understand the necessities and the various ways to camp, and thus–the various ways to enjoy a Shabbat dinner while camping. Next we learned how to hang a tarp with a forked stick and unique knots, and how to construct the perfect fire. We broke up into teams to see who could hang the best tarp and scoured the forest for tinder, kindling and fuel for our fire. We wrapped up by learning effective ways to leave no trace, leaving us fully equipped to effortlessly do this on our own.
In the end, it was a powerful, informative, and tremendously fun experience, and something I never could have dreamt of as being “part of my job”. I am so impressed by everyone who made it out and took the chance to get together in an unforgiving environment to create something new and transformative. Surely more to come.