Day 7 Colorado 2015

Our last morning of this gorgeous view!

Camping at the South Colony Lake was truly an amazing experience. Every morning I got up and found it to be so peaceful to be surrounded by the mountains. How could you not enjoy the views? The light here at any time of the day was incredible! 

We left our South Colony Lake campsite today to head out to the Eleven Mile Canyon Recreation Area. We were all packed and headed out at 8:30am. Instead of descending the trail we came up on 3 days earlier, we descended the shorter loop back to the junction. 

More gorgeous views on our descent!

There were many backpackers coming up at this time of the morning. It was a smart idea for us to get here on a Tuesday making it such a quiet 4 days and 3 nights. And to be honest, I was glad we were leaving on a Friday. Another day and there would be more folks filling the campsites which meant more noise as well. 

The hike down was long and everyone was eager to get down to the car in the lower parking lot. Kevin II took the car keys since he’s the fastest (youngest) in our group - with Jeff and Geoff close behind. Kevin and I were dead last. Kevin’s heel was bothering him and his heavy pack didn’t help any.

With two packs I got several remarks from other hikers/backpackers. Some thought I was pregnant! LOL!

The grey plastic bag is all my trash that I'm packing out and it attracted a trail of flies on my hike down.

Kevin and his heavy pack filled with camping, hiking as well as his rope and trad gear.

On our way down Kevin and I spoke of how we would do things a bit differently when we go back. Go back, you ask? Why yes of course, there’s still so much to do! There’s the Ellingwood Arete Classic (5.7) multi pitch climb. Not to mention the Crestone Peak to Crestone Needle traverse! And I personally still have Mt. Humboldt yet to bag and would love to do the “The Standard” Class 3 hike to the summit of Crestone Needle!

Also, we’d make sure we had the right vehicle, a 4WD type, to get us and our gear up to the upper parking lot! Having heavy packs didn't seem too bad since we thought we'd originally be hiking from the upper parking lot to the campsite (3.5 miles with an elevation gain of 1700 feet). But since we didn't have the right vehicle to make the rough drive to the upper lot, we had to park the car in the lower lot. It turned our hike to a little over 7 miles with over 3000 feet of elevation gain. It pretty much “hurt” with those heavy packs, LOL!

The upper parking lot was full with more folks in 4WD vehicles making their way up towards the lot. The lower parking lot was full as well. 

Farewell to the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Range. Geoff videotaping

Wallbangers Sports Bar & Grill
Salida, CO – 7,038 ft
We stopped off at Wallbangers in Salida for lunch and watched a bit of the British Open Golf Tournament and NASCAR racing on their flatscreens. I ordered the Chicken Tender & Fries appetizer for lunch. But I couldn’t eat it all so I got a doggie bag so I could finish this for my dinner tonight.

The Trailhead
Buena Vista, CO – 7,965 ft
Stopped by The Trailhead and Kevin bought a new rope!

Eleven Mile Canyon Recreation Area
Lake George, CO – 7,992 ft
At the entrance station the large sign listed all the campsites as “Full”.  But we wanted to check out some potential climbing areas for our day tomorrow, so Jeff paid the $6 entrance fee. We followed the dirt road along the South Platte River to its end, the dam at the Eleven Mile Reservoir, and then turned around to head back out of the park. There were many anglers as well as campers and picnickers enjoying the area. I spotted the huge slab on Turret Dome and started drooling! We checked out the “Arch Rock” where Jeff and Kevin had previously climbed. Then we headed out to go look for a place to stay. 

The Arch Rock

We found our way to the Happy Meadows Campground on CR 112 but it was also full. There are restrooms at this campsite and each site has a parking stall and a picnic table. But the sites were right on top of one another. So we drove along Forest Road and found some free camping! Or as Geoff calls it, “ghetto camping”.

Our campsite at 8,000 feet. You can't see it in this photo but to the right of my tent is Kevin and Kevin's tent. And to the left is the campfire ring and Jeff and Geoff's tent. As soon as the sun set, it cooled off and made for comfy sleeping!

This free campground actually wasn’t that bad. We got a nice spot and the sites here were wider apart from one another. And it’s a good thing we came in when we did. Just soon after setting up our tents more folks drove in. The campsite really isn’t sketchy, just some of the clientele. ;) Like the couple across from us. When a pop-up camper pulled into the site behind them the woman started yelling at them so they quickly moved to another campsite. I didn’t want to bother to watch, but according to the guys, she danced around her campsite to the same song that was playing loudly and repeatedly. We had the misfortune of having to listen to their music until dark, when they shut their music off. Finally, some peace and quiet! 

Free Camping Colorado

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