May 3-5, 2011 – Arkansas River Headwaters

“A few days away from the snow, camping in warming temperatures!”

We were off work for a few days, so we decided to take Phurba and get away to a little warmer climate. Its was going to be his first camping trip. It seemed so long since we had been camping and we had to figure out where we had put everything but we found, packed it up and were on our way. Phurba was looking at us kind of funny. He saw that his backpack was out but just sat there and watched as we loaded everything up. We are pretty sure that he will figure it out. When Mike does his snowshoe tours he knows what is happening and knows when it is time to go and get in the jeep. When I get ready for work, he knows when I pick up my backpack he knows when to get in his kennel. He is one smart puppy! Now if he could learn how to help load and unload the jeep…

We headed south and ended up at the Arkansas River Headwaters Recreational Area, Hecla Junction Camping Area. They have just recently made some major renovations at the Recreational Area at a cost of 5 million dollars. The Hecla Junction is only about 10 miles, don’t quote me on that, from Salida, CO.

We pretty much had our pick of spots, there was only one other spot taken… he was at the front of the campground so we took the back end of the campground. It was so quiet it was the perfect spot for what we wanted in our little get away.

Once camp was set up, we went for a little walk and was what else was around… we caught up with a couple of fishermen, one we found out was from Frisco and found out he ran a bed and breakfast I tried to get reservation at. The guy I talked to at that time was a real jerk… surely it couldn’t have been the same guy because the guy we met at the campground was really nice.

After our little walkabout, we headed back to the campsite for some dinner and then it was bedtime and Phurba’s first night in a tent. So we had wondered how he was going to act in the tent… at first he was a bit hesitant to come inside. We have a vestibule attached to the front of this particular tent which works great. We always set up small stools so we can take our boots/shoes off or put them prior to entering or leaving the tent. So here was where I was going to attempt to put Phurba’s booties on him. Front feet… no problem, back feet… not so easy. But finally it got done and he went inside, laid right down on the bed that we made for him. We had expected him to get right in the middle of the sleeping bags, but he didn’t. He curled up on his bed and went right to sleep.

The next morning we slept in… even Phurba. Mike said he had expected him to be all over us wanting up but he slept in too. Mike got up before me, I don’t even remember him getting up and crawling over me, but he and Phurba let me sleep a little longer while they went and took a father-son walk. When I got up they were still gone and started taking some pictures. The wind was wicked… but took some shots of the camp site and walked down to the river and saw Mike and Phurba walking toward me. Phurba heard my voice and came running to say good morning… of course he almost knocked me down in the process. His enthusiasm goes a long way!

After breakfast we headed off down toward the trail that follows the Arkansas River. We ran into one of the Park Rangers. She looked really familiar to Mike and I, but how could we know some Park Ranger in a campground we had never been to before. After talking to her for a few minutes she said, you guys look familiar… then we found out that we works for Ski Patrol in Breckenridge in the winter. So between her and the guy from Frisco, I guess it’s a really a small world…

So we continued on our way down to the trail along the river. It’s was nice trail, kind of a sandy base, and there are only a few places where we had to climb up or down any rocks and in most of those cases they had rock steps built in those locations. The Park Ranger had told us about an area of the river where there was some serious rapids, so that was our goal, to get to that point. The sun was pretty bright and I had taken off my jacket and had just a tank top on underneath… so I could feel the vitamin D build up. It was a great feeling to be out in the warm sunshine. It seemed such a long time since we had done anything like that. There has been so much stress in our lives lately, things that I just can’t explain, but things that had gotten in the way of our dreams and the life that we came to Colorado for… for that day our dream was back and life was great!

After our little hike we came back to camp and decided to make a drive into Salida. I had never been there and it was just something else to do. Plus at the campground we didn’t have cell phone service or internet so we wanted to check and make sure we didn’t have any important messages. Salida wasn’t really what I had expected. I thought it would be a smaller older town, though I guess it had its portion of older parts of town. But it has its booming higher end district as well with nice hotel, restaurants, fast food places, and even a sonic. Oh how I miss my sonic…

On our way back to camp, I tried to shoot some pictures of the sunset… at first there was no color in the sky but then it began to show, but there was no really good spot to shoot it.

Our last day we pack up and headed back toward home… but this time we decided to go home through Leadville, for just a bit different scenery. We made a quick stop at this River Access point to the Arkansas River called Numbers. Mike remarked how much fun it would be to be able to kayak this section of the river. I think he has the fever, and don’t think he would be too particular about any section of the river at this point in time. I mean it’s still nice, warm, and sunny, and we wonder how much snow has melted back at home. Will spring & summer ever come? Or are we skipping those seasons this year?

I look forward to our next little outing, how great or small it may be…

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