Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Short Move But a World of Difference


On Sunday after stopping at the very nice free RV dump next to the sewage treatment plant in Durango, we made a big 23 mile drive to a pleasant site in the San Juan National Forest between Hesperus and Mancos, CO. There are several forest service roads north of Highway 160 that have dispersed camping and we chose Madden Peak Road because Debbie was already there and had our spot waiting. Boondocking doesn’t get much easier than that!


We are well off the main road and surrounded by trees for privacy, and the roads are great for walking or biking.


One day we walked a few miles on the old grade of the former Rio Grande Southern Railroad line, now Forest Road 568.





Yesterday we went to Hesperus to pick up a package at the post office, so we decided to drive up nearby La Plata Canyon Road to check out the foliage.


It was beautiful up there, but the road gets really rough and rocky after several miles so we parked the car at 9,800’ and hiked a couple miles up the road. I would have loved to go all the way to Kennebec Pass, but we needed a Jeep for that.






Hummer Tour heading up to the pass.






Looks like it will finally begin to cool off this weekend so we’ll soon be making our way to Moab. As much as we look forward to being back in red rock country we’re going to miss Colorado.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Good Week In Durango


Although we only planned to spend 2 or 3 nights at La Plata County Fairgrounds in Durango, CO, we ended up extending and stayed 6 nights. It isn’t that the RV park is anything special, in fact far from it, but we loved the location and ability to walk and ride our bikes just about everywhere. We only drove the car once the entire time we were here because we needed to do a major grocery run.

The RV lot is next to the busy maintenance building and across from the horse arena.



At least the sites are very wide so you’re not right on top of the neighbors.


The Animas River trail, which starts directly behind the fairgrounds, runs for 7 paved miles along the river. We rode the entire trail a couple times, a very pleasant and scenic ride.



One of the many bridges we crossed on the trail.



If you don’t mind walking it’s about a mile and a half to downtown, a half mile to a very nice City Market, and a Walgreen’s is right across the road, where we got flu shots and a shingles vaccine for me. We also walked downtown for dinner a couple times and to the Saturday farmer’s market.

We always like cities with rivers running through them.


Jim was looking through his health insurance benefits last week and noticed it included membership to Silver Sneakers. I guess if he saw this last year when he first got his Medicare supplement he didn’t realize what it was, but it gives him free access to fitness centers all across the country. Just so happens the Durango Recreation Center, right next door to the fairgrounds, is on the list, so we visited it three times this past week.

What a wonderful complex! State of the art fitness equipment, 2 swimming pools, one just for children, a climbing wall, racquetball courts, exercise classes, air hockey, pool and ping pong tables. After working out we played some serious ping pong and air hockey. I let Jim win, of course. It cost me $4.50 per visit, a real bargain ($6 if you’re under 60).

We did a lot of hiking when we visited Durango in 2012, so this time we didn’t go for a single hike the entire week, which was a nice change of pace. We’ve decided Durango would be a great place to live, but so do a lot of other people, which translates into very high housing prices.

But enough city living. Today we’re heading back to the forest.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

On to Durango


We ended up spending another night at Russell Lakes SWA since we were the only ones there and the biking was good. We did an 11 mile ride with only 110’ of elevation change. Hard to find anyplace that flat, even in Florida.


The first day we were there we did a shorter ride and found some ponds, but the second time we looped around all of the lakes, and there are quite a few that were surprisingly large.




We did not see another person the entire time we were there, and only a couple cars passed by each day.




Sunday we did another short 40 mile drive to South Fork, where we spent the night at Aspen Ridge RV Park, a Passport America park. Not a bad place for $14.50 plus tax.


We wanted to do one last high altitude hike for the year and South Fork is on the east side of Wolf Creek Pass, so we drove up to the top to hike the Continental Divide trail from the Lobo Overlook.

Starting at 11,700’ and gradually descending, we walked a couple miles and lost 600’ of elevation before turning back to gasp in the thin air one more time. Sadly the forests around Wolf Creek Pass and South Fork have been ravaged by the spruce beetle, so there are thousands of dead trees, which makes for less than stellar scenery.








Yesterday we made our way to the big city of Durango where we met up with Debbie at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. They have a very small 6 site RV park, if you can call it that. It’s just a gravel lot in the back of the fairgrounds but for $16.50/night with water and electric, the location can’t be beat. The Animas River Trail runs right behind us so last evening we walked 1.6 miles to downtown for dinner at Steamworks Brewing Co. And got passed by the Durango-Silverton train along the way. A fun evening!


Saturday, September 19, 2015

We’ve Got Mail


Thankfully our mail showed up at the Poncha Springs post office yesterday with a big hole in the envelope. Our Escapees magazine was on that side so it held in the rest of the contents, although the new license plate for the Lazy Daze was bent. Since we had some rodents trying to build a nest in the engine compartment and eat the fabric of our Protect-a-Tow, we hurriedly packed up and left this beautiful spot.

Poncha SpringsSalida, CO

It was very windy our last few days in Poncha Springs so we did a couple more forest hikes where we got some protection from the trees. One day we went back to the Shavano trailhead and hiked the Colorado trail heading east this time. We did this back in 2012 with Chuck and Carla and I thought I remembered coming to a big clearing with views but after 2.6 miles of steep ups and downs we decided to turn back.


Nice but not what I remembered. We did see one other person, a backpacker who was out for a four day hike. He did the entire 486 mile trail five years ago and wanted to come back and hike part of it again. He said he was in much better shape back then as he found the climbs to be a lot harder this time.




Just a week after our hike at Monarch Pass we drove back up the road to check out the aspens. What a difference a week makes!



While there we hiked up to Waterdog Lakes, another trail we did with Chuck and Carla in 2012. That day we got caught in a thunderstorm with rain and hail, but this time we had perfect weather. Although only 1.7 miles to the lake, we climbed from 10,300’ to 11,400’ so it was a strenuous hike up a very rocky trail.






The trailhead is hard to find, but if you are coming from Poncha Springs heading west up to Monarch Pass (Hwy 50), the parking area is on the left 1.6 miles past the runaway truck ramp. The trail starts across the road but is well hidden.



Yesterday after picking up our mail, dumping tanks and trash, getting propane, and doing some grocery shopping, all we could muster up the energy for was a 50 mile drive to Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area south of Saguache, CO.


Nobody here but us.


Would not want to stay here during hunting season.


Last evening we took a bike ride through the area to check it out. These are some of the flattest dirt roads we’ve ever seen. If it were not for the surrounding mountains we wouldn’t think we were in Colorado.




One of the quietest places we’ve ever stayed.