Thursday, September 29, 2016
Day 5-7, West Fork Campground, Pagosa Springs, CO
Pagosa springs seemed like a good stopping point. I had been googling around for likely looking camping areas, and found the East Fork and West Fork campgrounds. I was all set to try for East Fork until I learned it would be closed for the season by the time we got there. But West Fork would be open for another week. A further look at a video of the campground, and a review by another camper, and I decided to put West Fork on our itinerary, with the option of moving on after one night if we didn't love it, and heading to San Luis near the Great Sand Dunes.
A controlled burn on the way up. At this point, we were not too far from the campground, and I worried that the smoke would bother my already irritated and road-weary eyeballs.
It turned out to be a truly lovely and smoke-free campground. And in fact, we liked it so much, we have decided to forego San Luis altogether, then drive straight through to Beulah. (Larry had already suggested a day trip to the dunes one day while we are there, so we won't really be missing them.)
So we spent our 2 days and 3 nights not budging, after all the preceding days of driving. Jerry rested and fiddled with the solar panel (a challenge between the tall trees and the shifting clouds). There were, the camp host assured us, no bears, despite what it said on the signs at the park entrance. Greatly relieved, I explored the fairy-like woods around the campsite.
There was moss and mushrooms everywhere.
I had the urge to collect sticks and build a fairy cottage. Turned out to be more like a hut.
There was a creek just a short walk from camp.
There were lots of squirrels. We watched as they nibbled fir cones from the tops of the trees, then gathered them after they fell to the ground, cleaned them up a bit, and carried them away, one by one, to save for later.
There were also chipmunks. They were very curious, but it seemed once they were able to determine that we weren't going to feed them anything, they wanted nothing to do with us.
I was delighted to see several tiny baby horny toads near camp, during the brief periods of warmth and sunshine in the middle of the day.
I obliged this one to pose for me next to a quarter.
The weather was pretty good. It rained a little in the afternoons, and one day there was a thunderstorm with a crack of lightning so close, it made me scream! But compared to what was to come, this was nothing we couldn't handle. We made a fire every night, and we would spend the evenings warming ourselves by it, and wishing we had brought marshmallows.
By the way, our camp host was excellent. He was an older man who had been living in the campground since July, and was counting the hours until the park would be closing and he could return home to his ranch, some 6 hours drive away. In the meantime, he made his daily rounds in his little cart, checking on us and the other 2 or 3 campsites that actually had people in them, and keeping the vault toilets clean. He actually mopped the floors in them every day. And after someone checked out, he would go right to their campsite, make sure it was clean, and he raked the dirt area around the firepit into zen-like orderliness. I was amazed. I told him we would love to return some day, and hoped to see him again, but he assured us that this was a one-time thing for him and he would not be coming back, at least not as a host.