Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Colorado Camping

Last Monday morning I walked out the door and smelled pine and cedar and knew I was in the mountains. It was wonderful. In years past, we have spent so much time in this environment. Now it has been several years since we have camped in Colorado. And this is really camping—a US Forest Service campground with no hookups, but large, well-spaced sites and few campers. We see wildflowers in our front yard. Rufous hummingbirds come regularly to the feeder attached to the window—to our delight and Partner’s. We went on a 2 ½ hour hike to 9500 ft above sea level. We passed one couple hiking and two groups on horseback. We were headed for First Meadow, but didn’t reach it. So two days later we repeated the hike, going the extra ½ mile or so to the meadow—absolutely spectacular. We had such a good time and were delighted to find that, after nine days at 6000 ft and above, we have adjusted to the altitude fairly well.

We parked for at eight days at Mogote Campground, west and north on Colorado 17 from Antonito in the Conejos River Valley. We have stayed at two different commercial campgrounds south of here in the past. But this year we wanted to CAMP, so we came to this Forest Service campground. We were delighted to find it had numerous vacancies on Sunday afternoon and about half of the sites cannot be reserved. So we can stay as long as we wish (within the 14 day limit). Normally, we describe what we are doing as RVing—meaning we live in an RV and have electricity and often water and sewer hookups. But this is camping—using our batteries for light, heat and to pump water. We have no TV, no internet access. We have a generator to recharge the batteries and use the vacuum. But it doesn’t provide enough power to use the air conditioner. That is why we were at that altitude—it cools off quickly in the afternoon.

One day we drove 26 miles to Chama, New Mexico, over La Manga and Cumbres Passes. Numerous times we have ridden the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, which runs from Chama to Antonito. This year we didn’t ride the train, but we did stop and take some photos as it went by. Chama is a small town, but seems to have some growth and more businesses catering to the tourists.

We spent three nights at the KOA in Alamosa—two days were work days for laundry, groceries, reservations for future stays and arranging to have cat food shipped to us for Partner. Then we rode the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad over the LaVeta Pass Route from Alamosa to LaVeta and back. We had ridden the train a year ago in May, within a week of its inaugural run. They have greatly improved the equipment and the service—including a snack car. And this year the train is pulled by a steam engine on weekends—a great improvement over the diesel used last year.

We had great weather and the fields were filled with wildflowers on July 7. It was beautiful. We saw deer and later a herd of elk bathing in a beaver pond. What a treat! We rode in an old baggage/post office car with open doors. Two other couples, one about our age and the other younger with children, shared the car. We had a good time together.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:25 PM

    When you were camping and hiking in the forest of Colorado, were you not concerned about running into a grizzly bear or one trying to get into your camper for food.

    I have heard that they can pretty much get into anything if they smell food - cars, RVs, etc.