Thursday, June 26, 2008
Unwound - Totally
In my last post I indicated that I was headed to the mountains for a few days to unwind after my trip back to Georgia to see my Dad. I did and I'm back...
I left mid-day on Monday after getting the RV stocked and ready. My goal for the day was to take a leisurely drive to a boondocking site just north of Buena Vista, CO, that I had discovered on my last trip to the area. This site is directly on the Arkansas River and I wanted to do a little gold panning for a day. The picture at the top of the post is the site I stayed at on Monday night.
The ride there was great. There was very little traffic and what traffic there was, seemed to be headed out of the mountains not into them. A great start for the trip. The camp site was a Forest Service activity area with no facilities except picnic tables and fire rings. That was ok by me as I have everything I need in the RV and the price of "free" is hard to beat. I pulled up to a spot not more than 75 feet from the river. That's the good news. The bad news is that when I looked at the river I had one of those "duh!" moments....
It's late June. This is the rafting season on the river. Why? Because the water flow is huge this time of year. Remember all the snow I was complaining about this past winter? Well it is now ending up in the rivers. One look and I knew that there was going to be no gold panning for me this trip!
For those of you with a scientific bent the actual flow of the Arkansas River at this point, as of a few days ago, was about 3100 cubic feet per second. That's a heckuvalot of water! That is so much water that it's plain dangerous and while I was eating dinner Monday night, looking out the window at the Arkansas, listening to the radio, I heard a news report that 4 people had drowned in the past week while rafting in the river! Nope, I'm thinking gold panning is definitely out for this trip.
That didn't stop me from enjoying the afternoon by just communing with nature. I walked along the river, read, and generally chilled. I also developed Plan B.
Plan B was to move to one of my all time favorite campgrounds the following day. Cottonwood Lake is just about 8 miles west of Buena Vista and I was now about 6 miles north of Buena Vista. An easy hop the next morning would give me pretty much the entire day to enjoy the delights of this 9000' altitude mountain lake and the surrounding mountains.
I got to the campground at about 10 am. Being as how it was the middle of the week there weren't very many people there. I had lots of good spaces to choose from and I chose one a little more in the open but with a view of the lake. A bike ride, a little fishing and a nice hike up the mountain made that tight old innerspring in my body, unwind flat as a board.
The picture to the right above was shot from the mountain behind the campground. If you look real close you can see my RV in the trees a little right of the center of the picture. While hiking, I came across evidence of how hard the past winter must have been up here. Elk normally eat the bark of aspen trees during the winter when they can't get other food. Judging from the large number of aspens that had elk marks, there probably wasn't much other food available this past winter.
I also stumbled on to a very melancholy thing. About a mile from the campground I spotted a rock back in the forest that looked like it had a sign on it. On coming closer I saw that it was a plaque and getting closer still, I discovered that it was a grave. From the inscription I'm guessing that it was a free soul who wanted his last resting place to be the Colorado Rockies.
As far as I know all the land in this area, except for a very few privately owned cabins, is Forest Service land. Burials are not permitted on Forest Service land so I'll bet there is some story behind this person's last ceremony?
My original plans were to go to Tarryall Reservoir on Wednesday morning. I thought long and hard about leaving Cottonwood as I was having a great time. There was no cell phone service available at all however and I had told The Bride that I would move to Tarryall on Wednesday and call her on the way there. I didn't want her to be concerned if I didn't check in so yesterday morning I left Cottonwood and drove to Tarryall.
I had been to Tarryall about a month ago and had a great time. There were very few people around at that time and I thought I had discovered another little gem. It seems like the rest of the world has discovered my "little gem" since then. All of the campgrounds were pretty much packed with campers and between them were the people there just to fish for the day. I found a spot to camp and fished for an hour or so. While I was fishing and watching the hordes of people....and listening to the dirt bikes and ATVs I thought to myself that I just wasn't going to enjoy this place this time. The great thing about being retired is that I don't feel obligated to cram in enjoyment to any particular time......so I packed up and drove home. No hard feelings. I just didn't want to stay. I arrived home about 5 pm about as unwound as you can unwind and am already thinking about the next trip.
Tomorrow night is a Circle dinner held at K's place. I'm sure we will talk about a Circle the Wagons trip for the group so come back for a report.
Thanks for visiting.