I have found myself letting go of making plans lately. With my ACL injury, I’m not able to do much in the activity spectrum, so plans seem silly. So a few weekends ago, with Friday & Saturday stretching before me, I jumped for joy at the the last minute plan to camp near Leadville, in the San Isabel National Forest near the clear creek reservoir. A group of friends were heading to the sand dunes and wanted to break up the trip (it’s almost 5 hours to sand dune national park). Another friend planned to climb or hike. And Mike and I wanted to escape the city, head to the mountains and be amongst nature. Despite my knee injury keeping me on the Colorado activity sidelines, I couldn’t wait! It had been a full two months since I had ventured west, into the mountains so I was ready.
Friday afternoon, we packed up the car with our camping gear (including our big fancy chairs & extra blankets, as we were car camping) and hit the road. Because we didn’t have to hike in with our gear, we brought the big tent that could have easily fit 6 adults comfortably. Because we brought the big tent, we brought Winnie and Haley (our furry babies).
Driving westbound, away from the city, we left 80 degree weather and watched the temperature drop every 15 miles. Past the small mining towns that now were filled with craft beer and tourists, the road slicing into the rocky hills. The views of the mountains as we crested over the hills still took my breath away.
We stopped in the overflow parking lot at Copper Mountain so the dogs could run around. The sky shoots mocked me from across the street, taunting me to come avenge my ACL. Next year, next year I’ll be back.
A ways passed Copper, we drove by Mayflower Gulch where Mike and I headed several months earlier as part of our AIARE I certification. Memories of a 4 degree day came flooding back, where fresh powder stretched for miles, and we trudged up the gulch to practice digging out beacons in case of an avalanche. What a beautiful weekend that was!
Leadville came into site and after stopping for water at the grocery store, we headed to the local watering hole, Periodic Brewing. Boasting the highest craft brewery in the world (elevationly speaking) we drank out delicious barrel aged porters and cold crashed IPAs and reveled in the facts: great beer on the way to the mountains to camp with friends was an amazing start to the weekend.
Sufficiently watered, we headed to our camping destination, just passed clear creek reservoir. There were multiple dispersed sites and we found a large one that fit the bill: secluded, by a creek, view for days. Last summer, we headed up the same road to the Missouri Gulch trailhead that leads to Mr. Oxford & Mt. Belford. The camping scene was a bit different for that trip, my ACL being in tact, so we hiked in several miles to the camp site.
That evening, several friends joined us, and we sang, drank and cozied up be the fire. After the hustle bustle of city life, work life, daily life, the mountain escape is a much needed oasis.
This past Memorial Day Weekend 2017, we found ourselves planing another mountain getaway. The weather forecast for Denver looked bleak, so we postponed the BBQ we had planned & got out of dodge, heading to Salida, a mountain bike mountain town, full of heady people, great views of the Arkansas River, and great campsites.
Heading out on Friday afternoon, we found ourselves drawn to the mountains, going high up into the San Isabel National Forest to one of the most spectacular camping sites I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time in. The views were spectacular and the dispersed camping was plenty. We pitched our tent, unfolded our car camping chairs and made a fire pit. Afterwards, we headed into town for some exploring, beer & grub. The town, situated on the Arkansas river, is full of boutique stores, cafes & restaurants with farm to table food & lots of bike friendly people!
We landed at Moonlight Pizza and brewpub, where the local beer flowed and veggie toppings were piled high. It hit the spot and we headed back up the gravel road to our campsite with full bellies and happy hearts. The sun was setting and the light was absolutely glorious.
Back at the campsite, we collected fallen sticks for the nights fire. It turned out to be a beautiful night, clear and exploding with stars. Around 9, we watched the embers burn out, climbed in our 2 person tent with an additional 2 fur babies, and snuggled into our sleeping bags.
It was a cold morning, so when Winnie woke me up, I resisted, wanting to stay in the snug cabin of the tent. But, alas I got up and started the morning ritual. Breakfast ended up being spectacular, an experiment with skillet cooked biscuits, peppers & onions, avocado & vegan cheese topping the mess. Holy cow it was delicious!
Post plant based breakfast feast, we took our babies for a walk around the campsite and surrounding area. The views were spectacular and I gave thanks to this beautiful place. After 3 1/2 years I’m still blown away by Colorados’ beauty.
Mike spent the day biking, while I read and soaked in the spectacular views. I drove the truck into town about an hour and a half after he left, met him down in the town of Salida for some refreshment and lunch at the Boathouse Cantina, a lovely restaurant Sitting on the bank of the Arkansas review. It was a perfect afternoon!
That evening a few more campers were around, but the views were definitely not compromised and the night was spectacular. A bit colder than Friday, our fire was the perfect end to a gorgeous day.
The next morning we woke after a cuddly night with the pups and made french press coffee. There’s nothing quite like a cup of coffee, next to the love of your life, with views of the mountains.
With my bum leg (due to the ACL injury) I still wasn’t able to bike, so we decided to head into town for breakfast before Mike headed out on his mountain bike. We went to Amicas pizza & microbrewery where we had a delicious breakfast: avocado toast topped with arugula for me & a huge breakfast burrito. It was phenomenal.
Back to the campsite where Mike suited up for mountain biking and I packed up. The sun was absolutely glorious and I cranked the tunes while putting away our little tent. I soaked up one last view of the mountains and drove the truck down to meet Mike. I snatched him up, his bloody knee and all, and we headed to Soulcraft Brewing before hitting the road to home. It was a phenomenal ending to a glorious weekend.