A few nights of tent camping can make one appreciate the luxuries of bunking in a recreational vehicle.
Somewhere between buying a new house in the Grand Valley of Colorado and selling our existing house in Gridlock City, Colorado, we decided we needed camping escape. I was able to reserve a last-minute site for three nights at a Forest Service campground at the far end of Turquoise Lake near Leadville.
It didn’t make sense to drag the trailer up for such a short stay. Instead, we packed up the tent, filled a cooler with beer (and food) and headed for the hills.
Naturally, it rained before we got there, and it was still sprinkling as we set up the tent. We brought along a fold-up sun canopy, which served as a rain umbrella over the picnic table and kitchen. The campground wally came over with a broom and swept water from a depression in front of the campfire ring.
The soft, overcast light made the wildflowers glisten. Chipmunks scurried around grabbing seeds from low-hanging plants. They were soon joined by a bevy of jack-style rabbits. I threw a telephoto lens on the camera and shot dozens and dozens of photos, hoping to capture the perfect pose. Unfortunately, the critters proved to be more than a bit camera shy.
The rain stopped and the next day we went for a hike. Our destination was Timberline Lake, located a few miles away in the Holy Cross Wilderness. Other than one stream crossing where we had to strip off hiking boots and wade across, the route was scenic and easy to follow. Unfortunately, smoke from California wildfires smothered distant views.
Along the way, my fungus-loving wife noted a preponderance of mushrooms growing beside the trail. She bemoaned not bringing her mushroom book and knife.
One of the nice things about camping is the willingness of fellow campers to share information and experiences. The couple camped directly across from us had come specifically to harvest the fungus and invited Dianne to join them on a short mushroom-harvesting hike. My lovely wife came back with over four pounds of tasty Boletes mushrooms.
Besides providing a sanity break, a second purpose for our camping trip was to gather material and photographs for my Colorado Camping column in Colorado Life magazine. We spent our second day driving around Turquoise Lake, shooting shots and checking out alternative campgrounds. This travel writing is tough work, but somebody’s got to do it.
After the traditional camper’s breakfast of bacon and eggs on our final morning, we packed up the tent and cooler (no beer in it now) and headed for home.