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Rocky Mountain High


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#1 Gary J. Carter

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 11:09 PM

Our 2007 Rocky Mountain High

Our Colorado trip was about as perfect an excursion as one could ask for...and we didn't stick to the plans originally made. We made reservations prior to departure at Big Meadows Reservoir - a BLM campgound close to Southfork. Little did we know Big Meadows would become not only our first camp, but also the last camp, and everything in between as far as RV camps went.

We departed late Wednesday and drove straight through arriving at Big Meadows early Thursday morning after a quick stop in Pagosa Springs for some breakfast goodies. Perfect weather all the way there. After setting up the Casita and eating our breakfast we hit the sack for six hours for some shuteye. That evening we putzed around camp and got a little more organized before sunset. Two 10-point bucks wandered within twenty feet of our Casita. Samantha snuck up to within twelve feet of them with the help of our Camp Host next door. Quite a surprise to see these deer so close and unafraid. We then relaxed and enjoyed our first night under the starry Colorado skies. The night air was cool and crisp - about 42 degrees F. Great for sleeping with the windows cracked open.

The next morning we drove to Southfork to purchase fishing licenses and live bait. We headed back to camp and set out in the canoe for some fishing. Neither Samantha or Cynthia had ever caught a fish (we first tried in Beaver's Bend but they didn't have live bait - hence, no luck there) There on Big Meadows reservoir, just as quick as I could put nightcrawlers on the hook, Samantha reeled in three Rainbow trout in a row! Cynthia caught her first rainbow a bit later that same outing. Now I have to say if nothing else had gone right the rest of the trip - that day on the lake would have still made all the effort to get there worth it. And the fishing just got better as the days went by. Nights were spent gazing at the amazing skies - the bright bands of the Milky Way, counting the shooting stars as they streaked by and the satellites puttering along.

After a couple more days in camp we took a break from fishing and fun at Big Meadows and day tripped to Durango to get tickets for the Durango-Silverton train ride. We also elected to scout Vallecito Reservoir - our next planned move. And a good thing we did. What a mess that place is....it is heartbreaking. To add to the woes caused by a wildfire ~two years ago, this Spring apparently brought unprecedented rain and the Vallecito area was inundated with mudslides. I barely recognized it as being the same Vallecito we had camped in 10 years ago. Fishing in a canoe would also have presented a difficult launch (a drive up the road to the dam) with the exception of the last RV park on the remote backside of the lake at the end of the road. This RV park was quite difficult to access and was a bit crowded for our liking. We decided to stay on at Big Meadows given the crowded quarters at the RV parks and the generally unattractive view rendered by the burned-out mountainsides surrounding the Vallecito reservoir.

We proceeded to Durango to make our train reservations, watched one of the returning trains, and then headed back to Big Meadows. We stopped in Pagosa Springs for pizza given the late hour of our return. Over the next three days we enjoyed camp life in the Big Meadows area. We hiked up the Archuletta trail (about 3 miles into the Weminuche, just to the bottom of the switchbacks) and back again. Samantha did amazingly well for her first real backpack excursion having hiked six miles round trip! "I'm totally exhausted!" she declared as we made our way into camp that afternoon. We relaxed at camp and had a few cold drinks to refresh ourselves.

Over the next few days we took the canoe out, continued fishing for Rainbows. Some days in the early morn, some in the afternoon and one into evening well past dark. Samantha packed in her daily limit on one of our outings (four trout in under three hours) and Cynthia came in a close second hauling in three trout that same day (Though she hooked a fourth and reeled it towards the canoe, it got away at the last moment! glare.gif ) We cooked them on the campfire that night and had a feast!

The next day trip out was back to Durango for the train ride. We chose to take the Gondola (covered roof, open sides) The Gondola is the right choice - great views compared to the normal passenger cars. A very pretty ride up to Silverton. The return trip became overcast, as it often is there in the afternoons, and we hit just a bit of rain as we got close to Durango at the end of the trip. Great fun overall and I took lots of pictures (See below).

With three days remaining our last scouting venture out of Big Meadows was a daytrip back through Southfork and up the scenic Silver Thread Byway (149) into Creede for brunch, then up through Slumgullion pass and into to Lake City for shopping and to scout Mill Creek/Williams Creek BLM campgrounds and the public campgrounds on Lake San Cristobal. We proceeded up to Mill Creek. We found Mill Creek overrun with RV campers who also brought their 4-wheelers and/or dirt bikes - It appeared to be a mix of hunters and folks who were buzzing up and down the roads, back and forth over the pass along the Alpine Loop. Not the quiet, peaceful, serene camping we had imagined. Williams Creek looked a bit more hospitable, however, the girls had caught that fishing bug and didn't want to give it up. (Me either to be quite honest). San Cristobal was very pretty, however most of the lake access appears to be privatized and has either been developed or is soon to be. The public campsites were all well above the waterline and without access to the lake. We all voted to return to Big Meadows and camp there for the remainder of our trip.

Back in camp the girls and I were back out in the canoe every day trout fishing. I believe we hauled in twenty three trout in all.

So to sum it up, the weather was near perfect, we saw most everything we had planned to see, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The mix of BLM camping, canoeing, fishing, and our day trips that included shopping and sightseeing kept us entertained and plenty busy. And there were the quiet times in and around the camp for playing games, cards, reading, playing guitar, campfires (Smores!!), and sipping a glass of wine too. The Casita kept us comfortable and cozy. The Honda generator did its job well. Did I mention we went fishing tongue.gif The last day at camp was a good day of rest before packing it in for the return trip. And Cynthia tried to get me to fish one last time on the way out! Hooked she is, methinks! biggrin.gif

P.S. Sighted four other Casitas during our two weeks in the area. One was parked in the Big Meadows public fishing area as we were returning from the hike up the Archuletta Trail, and the other three we passed along the highway during our trips to Durango and Southfork.

Attached Thumbnails

  • ColoradoMemoriesSLR.jpg

Edited by Gary J. Carter, 18 September 2007 - 07:55 PM.


Gary, Cynthia, & Samantha

2001 Casita 17' Spirit Deluxe, a.k.a. "OverEasy"
Kumho 205QR-14 Radial 857
Dual Honda 2000i Generators
2002 GMC Sierra HD Duramax
Tekonsha Prodigy Brake Controller
Reese Anti-Sway bar
CasitaClub Directory #2433
Callsign: KL7NE

#2 mountainborn

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 04:18 PM

Great report ! The descriptions were excelent. We have been wanting to ride that very steam train ! The camp ground reports are much appreciated. As we are pretty much blm, corps, usfs campers we could readily relate to your decision. There is this small dry camp site along the train route where you can hear the engine as it passes by . . . . . . .

#3 Gary J. Carter

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 08:05 PM

QUOTE (mountainborn @ Sep 18 2007, 07:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
...There is this small dry camp site along the train route where you can hear the engine as it passes by . . . . . . .


Funny you mentioned this....one morning I woke fairly early and was listening to the sounds outside. I could hear a train whistling in the distance. Big Meadows is a long way from the Durango-Silverton line. It must have been another train nearer this reservoir.

Another morning I awoke well before dawn and as I lay there pondering the day's plans I heard elk bugling in the distance. Never saw them this trip.

Oh how I wish I were back there now rolleyes.gif

Edited by Gary J. Carter, 18 September 2007 - 08:07 PM.


Gary, Cynthia, & Samantha

2001 Casita 17' Spirit Deluxe, a.k.a. "OverEasy"
Kumho 205QR-14 Radial 857
Dual Honda 2000i Generators
2002 GMC Sierra HD Duramax
Tekonsha Prodigy Brake Controller
Reese Anti-Sway bar
CasitaClub Directory #2433
Callsign: KL7NE

#4 mountainborn

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 05:30 PM

QUOTE (Gary J. Carter @ Sep 18 2007, 11:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (mountainborn @ Sep 18 2007, 07:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

...There is this small dry camp site along the train route where you can hear the engine as it passes by . . . . . . .


Funny you mentioned this....one morning I woke fairly early and was listening to the sounds outside. I could hear a train whistling in the distance. Big Meadows is a long way from the Durango-Silverton line. It must have been another train nearer this reservoir.

Another morning I awoke well before dawn and as I lay there pondering the day's plans I heard elk bugling in the distance. Never saw them this trip.

Oh how I wish I were back there now rolleyes.gif

Here is a link:
http://www.freecampg...il.aspx?id=1397
EDIT to add photo:

Edited by mountainborn, 19 September 2007 - 06:38 PM.


#5 CAA

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 07:19 AM

Gary, you just described our trips to Big Meadows when our children were young! We started with a tent then graduated to a pop up. Both our kids are married now and have gone back to Big Meadows on their own. We now own a Casita and hope to get back someday. For us Big Meadows is the perfect camping experience - fishing, hiking, beautiful scenery, quiet/peaceful, wildlife/wildflowers. What camp site did you have? We always tried to get the spot close to the "Big Rock" - close to the Cascade Falls hiking trail. We haven't been back since they added some camping sites so it would be nice to know what camp sites you thought were best. We never had a boat but fishing from the shore we could usually catch enough trout for supper!

Another favorite Colorado campground for us in the Durango/Silverton area is South Mineral (between Silverton and Ouray) As beautiful as Big Meadows but no reservoir for fishing and just further enough away that made it a little less appealing for us. We did lots of hiking and scenic drives in that area.

Wishing you many more happy camping memories!

Cindy & Allen
Cheyenne, Oklahoma
06 17' SD (that's only been out 1 night since we brought her home in May 2006 - but we sit in her and dream alot!!! - national holiday's on Monday's are the only times we can get away which is a 3 day weekend and that's just a little too far for such a limited time)

#6 breckenridge

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 08:36 AM

Great Report: Does anyone have a web site for Big Meadows ??
tia
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#7 Gary J. Carter

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 02:05 PM

QUOTE (breckenridge @ Sep 22 2007, 11:36 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great Report: Does anyone have a web site for Big Meadows ??
tia


Tia,

http://www.publiclan...ite.php?id=6185

They will be closing down for the winter this month and open up again in May - depending on the depth of the snowfall. I understand this spring was a bit of a challenge and they were hard pressed to open up on schedule.

Gary, Cynthia, & Samantha

2001 Casita 17' Spirit Deluxe, a.k.a. "OverEasy"
Kumho 205QR-14 Radial 857
Dual Honda 2000i Generators
2002 GMC Sierra HD Duramax
Tekonsha Prodigy Brake Controller
Reese Anti-Sway bar
CasitaClub Directory #2433
Callsign: KL7NE

#8 Gary J. Carter

Gary J. Carter
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Posted 23 September 2007 - 11:49 AM

QUOTE (CAA @ Sep 21 2007, 10:19 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Gary... What camp site did you have? We always tried to get the spot close to the "Big Rock" - close to the Cascade Falls hiking trail.

Cindy & Allen
Cheyenne, Oklahoma
06 17' SD (that's only been out 1 night since we brought her home in May 2006 - but we sit in her and dream alot!!! - national holiday's on Monday's are the only times we can get away which is a 3 day weekend and that's just a little too far for such a limited time)



We stayed in #17, just inside the winter gate next to Jim and Bobbie Chapman, the Big Meadows Camphosts. They were delightful, helpful neighbors. We took note of a few of the spots higher up that would have provided a better view of the night sky right from camp and will probably try one of them out next trip. The sight you mention was one of those we noted.

Mother nature was harsh there in June....many large trees blew down....some of the root balls were 8 feet or more in size. The camps higher up took the brunt of that beating. Jim said there were no injuries but one TV was struck by a tree (poor chap had just checked in!!!) Some college students were tent camped and had two large trees fall within feet of the tent. This sent them scurrying to lower ground.

You two need to find way to not work so hard and get a bit more use out of that Casita! There are great campgrounds right there in Oklahoma to sneak away to and enjoy a little outdoor R&R!

Edited by Gary J. Carter, 23 September 2007 - 11:53 AM.


Gary, Cynthia, & Samantha

2001 Casita 17' Spirit Deluxe, a.k.a. "OverEasy"
Kumho 205QR-14 Radial 857
Dual Honda 2000i Generators
2002 GMC Sierra HD Duramax
Tekonsha Prodigy Brake Controller
Reese Anti-Sway bar
CasitaClub Directory #2433
Callsign: KL7NE