Field Camp Near Crested Butte, Colorado, 1973

by Don Chesnut 2005

In 1973, I attended the University of Kentucky Geology Field Camp near Crested Butte, Colorado. The following is my account of the trip with linked photographs.Or you may just want to view the photographs in the thumbnail directory (no maps or descriptions).

Truck caravan from Kentucky to Crested Butte, Colorado

We left Lexington, Kentucky, June 1973 in a truck caravan and camped out along the way to Colorado. This was during the Arab Oil Embargo and the availability of gas was very low. There were long lines at gas stations.

Field mapping area, lower Cement Creek basin

Vin Nelson and his wife Phyllis headed the camp. Mel. O. Smith was the visiting professor who helped Vin during our camp. We camped at the "University of Kentucky campsite" (Google Map) on Cement Creek in the Gunnison National Forest, near Crested Butte. The Forest Service allowed the University to maintain a campsite there for many decades (since WWII). [They no longer allow that, I am told.] We had a wooden bridge to cross the creek to get to our camping area. There were two fellows to a canvas wall tent. There were 40 young men and no women. Each tent had a tarpaulin canvas floor, two cots, and a Coleman kerosene lantern. We had to dig a camp latrine for our wooden outhouse on skids. Each camping team had KP duties for a week. KP duties included building the fire, filling canisters with water and clorox, making sandwiches for lunch for everybody, and cleaning up the mess area. We had a cook that worked for us during the camp. There were three people to a mapping team and we had to report which part of the basin we were going to be working in for the day. We would bathe in a springs down the road. We called it a hot springs, but it was really pretty cold, but warmer than the 32 degree melt water in the creek. I spent half an hour each afternoon catching my trout dinner. Camp served dinner, but I didn't eat red meat. I usually cooked the trout in foil packs in the coals of the campfire. I got pretty good at catching trout.

Day Excursions

In addition to our regular field-mapping experience, we also made day trips to other areas around western Colorado. Full-day trips were usually on Wednesdays and half-day trips were on Saturdays. This allowed us to get our clothes washed and to take a shower in Crested Butte on Saturday afternoons. We would often go to the Wooden Nickel Bar on Saturday nights. I have forgotten the locations of many of the field excursions. A Crested Butte hotel charged 35 cents for warm showers.


Return to Parent page