a weekend away
I left Dillon and headed just a bit southeast, approximately 160 miles away, but still a five-hour drive. I’d recalled when I got to Colorado that I’d had a friend who lived sorta near Colorado Springs, in Canon City, actually. And, lucky me, said friend also happened to have a nice, big, fairly level space where I could park, and he also didn’t mind me parking there! We made plans for me to arrive the Tuesday before Labor Day Weekend. It was a gorgeous drive there, but by the time I hit Highway 50, I was ready to be there. Instead, I made my slow way on this winding, slightly hilly, two-lane highway. My average speed was probably around 50 mph, mostly due to curves. I probably pissed off a few people, as I refuse to go faster than I am comfortable with and generally make the curves at the recommended speeds. There are few places to pull over. It’s rare in such a beautiful place for me to say: are we ever going to get outta here? But I did say that, multiple times!
escaping the heat
I still managed to arrive before it got cooking too much. The temperatures in Canon City are vastly different than the ones we had in Dillon. It got up to 103 one day, and 100 on another, though this torture came after the holiday weekend. My friend happened to have the whole three days of the weekend off of work, so he suggested that we head to a place he really loves to camp. I was uncertain at first if I wanted to do this, but, after a couple of days in the heat, I totally changed my mind. Sure, let’s do it. So, on Friday morning, I left early while he worked, and made my way back along Highway 50. It was much better the second time around and at the beginning rather than the end of the drive! Instead of the campground he had in mind (which required 8 miles down a dirt road), we decided to try a different one nearby, which required only a mile on a gravel road. These were both USFS campgrounds and had no services, though they had vault toilets. I left early enough that I hoped to snag us a good spot before what we feared would be the after-work march into the no reservations campground in hopes of scoring a campsite for the weekend.
finding the sweet spot
Turned out, we had nothing to fear. I saw only three other campers there when I arrived, and I found us an absolutely huge pull-thru site with two tent site options for my friend. It was a little work to get it level, but I managed to find the sweet spot. And, even with my friend’s car parked, there was enough room for another rig ten feet longer than my own! Huge. And it looked out into the woods. No neighbors were close. And it was a quiet weekend as the campground never did come close to filling up. It was my first go at dry camping, so I held my breath a bit as I plugged in and set up my solar panels, but the monitors both read that all was working as it should! My two batteries and 120 watts of solar panel were definitely plenty for what I needed it for this weekend. I didn’t test using the plug-n-play inverter to charge my computer—which I didn’t use—or phone since there was no signal and I only turned it on to take pics while hiking.
And speaking of hiking…another great thing about this campground is that it’s close to the Continental Divide Trail, which is also the Colorado Trail in this area. We hiked one segment on Saturday and another on Sunday. The scenery in both sections was gorgeous. On the first day, we spent more time in the woods, while on the second day, it was more wide open, with grand views all around. It was the perfect combination. Both days we went about 8.5 miles. On day two, we saw quite a few thru-hikers and a couple of Colorado Trail thru-bikers. It made me want more than just a couple of day hikes! I’m not sure I’d want to go by bike, though. I’d rather the speed of a hike (though the couple on the bike said there were more than a few times that they were forced off their bikes, trudging uphill, with hikers passing them!). I am not sure I could do the entire CDT, or the PCT (which I’d love to do from Northern Cali to the Canadian border), or the ACT. But, perhaps, I could do the 485-mile Colorado Trail if I could get someone to come stay in the rig with the cats for a few weeks.
It was a lovely, peaceful, weekend. No technology, other than the phones for pictures, and that felt great. It’s amazing how wonderful it feels to step away from the screens. Spent the weekend in good company, with face-to-face conversations. Stunning scenery. And a nice walk along a little trail in the mountains. Oh, and there was an hour-long drive to Gunnison on Saturday for some good pizza and a beer. I can’t think of a better way to have spent the holiday weekend. Feeling refreshed, I suddenly didn’t mind that trip back down Highway 50 one more time…