Hiking Grand Mesa

Some camping trips are truly memorable.  This looks to be one of them, but for all the wrong reasons.

While the name may sound exotic, Robb State Park Island Acres section lies sandwiched between the cliffs, about 18 miles east of Grand Junction.  There’s no island.  On one side of the campground lies the Colorado River and the Union Pacific railroad tracks.  On the other lies Interstate 70, a major transcontinental truck route.  Even though we’re about as far away from the interstate as we can get, it’s still noisy.

The sites are nicely spaced with grassy lawn between them, but shade is at a premium.  Our site does have a canopy over the picnic table.  We have full hookups (electricity, water and sewer), which means we can use as much water and power as we want.  That’s handy because with temperatures only a shade under 100, we’ll be showering frequently and will have the air conditioner running pretty much all afternoon.

Then there’s the smoke.  Another major wildfire, the fourth largest in Colorado history at last count, is burning north of Grand Junction.  Smoke from that conflagration blankets the area, making distant views appear as if we’re seeing them through waxed paper.  The air smells of burning wood and ash settles on everything overnight.

The one saving grace is that Grand Mesa lies about a half-hour drive away.  At 10,000 feet, world’s largest flat-topped mountain offers a cool, relatively smoke-free place to escape for hiking.  The first day, we did a short, six-mile hike through glades of aspen and spruce to a series of small lakes and creek-fed reservoirs. 

Yesterday we hiked eight miles from a set of roadside fishing lakes near the campground where we stayed three nights last July.  I think we each lost over a liter of blood to the ravenous mosquitoes back then.  We saw nary a mosquito on this trip. 

After four miles of relatively flat walking, we reached the top of a chairlift at the Powderhorn Ski Area.  The steep, black-diamond ski trails look far more frightening when they don’t have snow on them.  If we can do it in Covid-free conditions, we may come back this winter on a ski vacation.

Dianne is still having issues with her replaced knee, so we’re limiting hikes to every second day.  On off days when the air is good, we’ll do some more biking.  On the bad days, we’ll probably hang out in our trailer’s air-conditioned luxury and catch up on reading.  There are some definite advantages to “camping” in our summer cabin on wheels (SCOW).

Robb Retreat

We had originally planned to head west for a six-week trip that would take us across Utah and Idaho to the Columbia River, then down the Oregon Coast to the California redwoods. 

We were going to attend a Mini Lite trailer rally and visit Dianne’s parents in California followed by a visit to her sister in Nevada.  We would then camp in Denver for a few days before heading south to Arizona for a two-week camping excursion with friends in the desert east of Phoenix.

Because of the Covidemic, all of that was cancelled.  Although some places graciously didn’t charge their normal fees, we still ended up absorbing $188.12 in campsite cancellation fees.

In place of relatives and redwoods, we are doing a Colorado Covid Compromise trip. We were able to book a trio of two-week stays at Colorado State in the western part of the state.  First stop is Robb State Park Island Acres Section, which lies 18 miles east of Grand Junction.

Getting here presented a challenge.  A huge wildfire broke out in Glenwood Canyon that closed the Interstate highway through the canyon.  Alternative routes were required.

We chose to go north through Steamboat Springs and then south to Rifle.  Other than a few miles of road construction that coated the front of the trailer in mud, it was pretty much uneventful.  It only took about two hours longer than normal.

We arrived and set up camp in pleasant 100-degree, one-percent humidity warmth.  On went the air conditioner.  It’s good to not be tent camping.