Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mineral Creek

Monday, June 22

This morning we headed south on CO 550, the Million Dollar Highway. A beautiful drive. Some articles I read talked about it being a hazardous road. I didn't find it like that at all. Both lanes were wide even in places with no road shoulder.  The most tense drives I can recall, are some of the steep and narrow roads accessing the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. They were build to accommodate two passing 1940's vintage cars and not motorhomes, large trucks, etc. plus some of the grades are over 10%.

I was always hoping I would not encounter a large truck on the road. The truckers didn't even slow down or make an attempt to pull over a little. 

Right now we are at the Anvil disbursed camping area. Right on the South Fork of Mineral  Creek. 
37.82117. -107.71959
Got real lucky on this site. We pulled into the area hoping  for a nice riverfront site. A women with a group traveling in a big 5th wheel waved us over and said they were packing to leave. We pulled off the road and waited. Got a really nice site.
Mineral Creek

Right now its us, a big fifth wheel with a couple and their two grandchildren from Oklahoma. We can just see them through the pines and a motorhome  parked across the creek. Very quiet.
Put the hummingbird feeder out. Attracted a few. Maybe more tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 23.

A nice couple from New Mexico pulled in this morning. They are looking for a campsite for their 5th wheel from this coming Friday through the July 4th holiday. They were thinking that it they got here this early in the week, they would have their choice of prime sites. They came up here last month on a scouting mission when most of the small roads were still snow covered. Their top two sites were already taken. 
This place is much like Owl Creek Pass where we just came from. People from NM and southern CO go to the mountains to escape the heat. Plus, the 4th of July weekend is approaching. Today alone, three campers pulled in, set up their equipment then left. 
They asked if we would mind if they parked the 5th wheel across from our site and park their truck on part of our site so as to stake their claim to the last really good waterfront site. Certainly. We told them we would be leaving here on Thursday and would spread their lawn chairs around to further solidify their claim. 
Now they are both going to see if their boss will let them take Thursday off. 😃

This is just the way it is camping in the CO mountains in summer. Easy during the week, packed on weekends.

Like Owl Creek Pass, for us this would be a Monday through Thursday sort of place. The weekends have to be a madhouse. 
I'm guessing that if you don't have your camping area established by about tomorrow, there will be nothing left for the 4th of July holiday.
We plan to be home by about July 1 so we won't have to deal with that.
Not much hummingbird action today. Two or three, that's about it.

Wednesday, June 24
Gopher and I took a nice walk up to a marshy area. Perfect for a moose but we didn't see any. Just a deer and a squirrel. 

The high iron content in the rock colors the water in the ponds.

People continue to drive through the area looking for a good spot for the upcoming holiday week. Not much left here.

In the morning we continue south towards Durango.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Owl Creek Pass area. True Grit.

Friday,June 19
Up early again. On the road by 6:30. We stopped at the bakery for a loaf of fresh bread and a warm cinnamon bun, then to the Montrose Fairgrounds to use the dump station and to top off with water. Today's destination is the Silver Jack Reservoir/Owl Creek Pass area. We accessed this FS area from the north off US 50 using the Big Cimarron Road which, eventually, becomes FR 858 in the Uncompahgre NF. The road is well maintained dirt and gravel. Perhaps 20  miles or so, from US 50 to where we are now. Drove through the two campgrounds (Beaver Lake and Silver Jack) just to look. Both are nice but nothing special. We were looking for disbursed camping. Drove some different FS roads until we stumbled onto 858.3G per the MVUM of the area. We're here: 38.20560. -107.52191. We're at 9,000' About 100' from the Uncompahgre River in a small meadow of grass and dandelions surrounded by pine  and aspen. Good sun for the solar panels. We drove all of the roads that were along the river. There are a dozen, or more, great riverfront disbursed sites and they are all taken by big trailers. I guess we're lucky to have snagged this one. 
Our campsite
The river across from our campsite
A good day for a swim

Company with the morning coffee.

We're staying here until the weekend crowd clears out on Sunday.  According to a guy I was talking too, this is pretty much a Montrose locals place. Some bring their ATV's some their dirt bikes. It's only about an hour from town.
Cooked salmon and sweet potatoes on the grill then had a campfire from wood I found along the river.  

Saturday, June 20
This place gets crowded on Saturday. Between the convenience to Montrose, the 100* temps, the river and assorted ATV and jeep trails, it's really busy. Should we come back again, and we certainly would, we would make it a Monday-Thursday trip. But, even on Saturday, by about five, everyone was back at their campsite and the day users were gone. The evenings were peaceful and quiet.
Spoke to two locals about the road south towards Ridgeway. While neither had driven it this year, they both recommended against it. In the past there have been wash-outs, huge potholes (one guy said the potholes would stop a tank!), etc. plus we needed to dump our tanks, top off with water, go grocery shopping, etc., so we decided to head back the way we came and spend the day in Montrose. 

Sunday, June 21, the Summer Solstice.
In the morning, we drove the six miles up to the Owl Creek Pass. Got a picture of Chimney Rock but couldn't find the grassy meadow (Deb's Meadow it's called) where Rooster Cogburn made his famous charge against the four bad guys. "Rooster Cogburn sits astride his horse, rifle in hand, reins between his teeth and draws his pistol." Anyone who has seen the movie remembers the rest.  In 1969 John Wayne won his only Academy Award for Best Actor for his Rooster Cogburn role. I remember Rooster shooting that six gun probably fifty times without reloading. 😉
Chimney Rock
Beaver lake near the pass

Then off to Montrose to take care of business. 
Right now we're in the Amphitheater Campground in Ouray.  Still too warm for us. In the morning we head higher.
Had a nice conversation with a guy very familiar with this part of CO. Got some good travel ideas.