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Spring Escape! 17-20 May!

REDONE

Active Member


Been trying to work this trip out for a while, so I'm putting it on the calendar WAY out, but solid! Lets face it, the biggest challenge in getting out there is the planning, so I'm doing the prework for you.;) Looking at the dates of 17-20 of May, 2018. This is right after Finals for most State Universities, the last day for Jeffco Schools, and far enough in advance that if you really want to go you can schedule your PTO. If you're a transplant to Colorado, there will be healthy dose of Colorado history on this trip! We're even going to touch on things that they don't teach in school unless you live in the town where it happened! Obviously, there's a real good chance that it will still be frigid, especially at night, so it'll be a good opportunity to be "hard core", yet still close enough to civilization that pulling chocks and seeking better shelter is an option. That said, I will have a 2 year old girl in tow, so if she can hack it, so can you! (or your kids!)

Thursday the 17th (Optional): This is a highway day.
Leave home and head to the Sand Creek Massacre Memorial. This is probably the darkest point in our fine state's history, and everyone who lives here should visit this place at least once. From there we'll head to John Martin Reservoir for the first night. The campground is below the dam in a wooded area. It's beautifully quiet and a great first camp on a 3 night adventure. The Reservoir is primarily popular with out-of-state flatlanders with rocketship boats and RVs bigger than my house. This early in the year it should be too cold to wear nothing but boardshorts and a backwards hat, so it'll probably be pretty desolate.:cool:

Friday the 18th: 1/2 highway, 1/2 dirt!
Those who work Friday, pack Thursday and head south as soon as you can! It's 5 hours to the Cimarron Campground in New Mexico, which is where we'll be staying Friday night. Those who join me, we'll head out of John Martin and head to the Ludlow Massacre Memorial. While not the darkest point in Colorado history, it's a close second. Regardless of your political views, it's important to know what happened here, lest history repeat itself. From there, we head south to "COLD BEER" about 30 miles into New Mexico! This is a little tavern in the middle of nowhere. I've never been here, but my wife had an existential awaking here and has wanted to return with me since before we met. The best part is this is where we will leave the highway and get primative! From "COLD BEER" we'll navigate the spiderwebs of BLM and forest roads to the Cimarron Campground in Carson National Forest. NOTE: The Cimarron campground doesn't officially open for the season until the following weekend, but allows "walk in" camping and being in a National Forest, dispersed camping is also allowed. I will contact the FS to try to get more details.
Saturday the 19th: 1/2 dirt, 1/2 highway.
We wake up and can split up! Those who want to head into Taos can do so! It's a really fun town with tons of nifty stuff to buy. The official calendar isn't working, but I do see that the Taos Lilac Festival is happening that Saturday! Those who've been to Taos before can continue the back country exploring by heading northwest. The rendezvous will be the town of San Luis in Colorado, between 2 and 4pm. This is another important historical part of Colorado for any transplants. San Luis is the OLDEST continuously populated town in Colorado! Long before Lewis and Clark set out of Missouri, Spanish Conquistadors were here looking for a lost city of gold. They are really proud of their "stations of the cross" walking path, and while I'm not catholic, my wife is, so we'll climb that. From there we will head to the San Luis State Wildlife area to camp for the night. This used to be a state park, but was turned into a wildlife area because the reservoir went dry and everyone stopped going there. To be honest, I've been here and it's postapocalyptic at best. I've wanted to go back with a metal detector and hunt for fishing lures in the bed of the dry reservoir, but it's not what most people think of as ideal for Colorado camping. It will probably be cold, windy and barren, but! We are not simple campers, we are adventurers and overlanders!

Sunday the 20th: Choose your own adventure!
The route home can be as quick or as leisurely as you like. Salida, Buena Vista, Fairplay, even the Bishop Castle can all be on your way home if you so choose. I'm reluctant to pick my route because "day 4" is the historical limit for my little tribe. We may be ready for another site to see, or we may all want to poop in our own toilet, so I just can't say for sure which way we'll get home. :rolleyes:
This is Salida, before I got fat and wearing a "track town" shirt wasn't ironic:

I will do some more research and update this post with maps and pics as I gather them. Post up if this is something you want in on, as I'll be ordering stickers when it gets close and need to know how many I'll need. I'll also finger-stomp out a pointless list of everything one should have to hang with a "medium core!" adventuring crew like mine, even though we are really just car campers with 4 wheel drive.:p
 

Morris Yarnell

Well-Known Member
Matt,
I would like to do this one as it is on my list of places to see. Certainly enjoy seeing Helen again, she is a great little camper. I have made plans to attend OX this year and the dates conflict.
Happy trails
 

REDONE

Active Member
You're an excellent highway Gunner and even better campfire compadre, Morris! If overland expo doesn't work out, you're more than welcome to adventure with my crew!;)

I picked up the New Mexico map book today, so I'll start laying out some paths to put in my first post.
 

Morris Yarnell

Well-Known Member
Matt,
I have not sent any money to them for a camp site yet so plans may (might, could, probably) change, if so I would like to join you and your crew. Thanks.

I'll keep my eyes on the postings to be up to date. Sand Creek has always been of interest to me, especially after reading about it in "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee", "Touch the Earth" and seeing the movie 'Soldier Blue'.

I also have the DeLorme books of New Mexico and Colorado for comparisons.
 

BearWagon

New Member
"This is right after Finals for most State Universities, the last day for Jeffco Schools, weekend after 'The Bacon and Beer Classic', and far enough in advance that if you really want to go you can schedule your PTO.".........not that education isn't important also but this makes the decision easier.

Will "pencil" this on the schedule for now, sounds like a good time
 

REDONE

Active Member
Haha! I see what you did there.;) there will be beer and bacon on this trip, too, I guarantee it.
Love to have you guys along! I know from the M&Gs that lots of folks seek out RMO because they simply don't know where to go and what to do. While that doesn't apply to you, Mike and Morris (and probably you too, Jason) I'm hoping to help some of those I've met get out there.
My wife has night classes next Tuesday, but I plan to be at Odyssey with Helen and my maps, as well as the eclipse stickers for those I still owe one.
 

REDONE

Active Member
What it takes to ride with me:

Water, shelter, food, and a good attitude! (but comms are important, too).;)
Overlanding on the internet is just overwhelmed with gear junkies and amazing vehicle builds. There's nothing wrong with spending your coin on stuff you want or that makes your life easier in the back country, but I am "Medium Core!", Not hard core by any means. I avoid setting up or breaking down camp in the dark and I like to cook my breakfast and dinner, which usually takes an hour for each meal. For this reason, I'm rarely on the road before 7am or after 6pm. While driving and wheeling is fun, I like the "Camp" part of camping best, even in gail force winds, driving rain, or a light snow. That's when I feel most connected to the actual real Universe instead of the constructs of society.

I'm not making youtube videos of conquering untread territory or chainsawing my way through forgotten paths. A day may come when I attempt to venture where few if any have gone before, but right now I'm plenty happy venturing where "I've" never gone before (and the smaller the crowds, the better :D). This trip I've tried to pick routes where everyone across the spectrum of vehicle capability can join in. Mod'ed vehicles can seek out tougher tracks, and a family truckster can stick to pavement and gravel and still get to the same points. While some get lost in the woods, others can get lost in the history of the area. Just in case someone is reading this because they're interested, but apprehensive due to a lack of experience or regional knowledge, I'll break down a baseline of what one would need to adventure Medium Core.
WATER: I never drink the stuff, fish poop in it. Even so, everyone says to have a gallon per person per day. This trip, there will be water filling points at least once a day. For my family of three I carry a 5gal water can and it's plenty for drinking, cooking and even washing dishes.
SHELTER: Whatever you've camped in before is perfectly fine, and if it's been so long since you've camped that it doesn't count, don't blow your wad on something fancy. I've never thought less of someone for using a Walmart tent (my favorite tent I own is a $20 Wenzel from the defunct "G.I.Joes Sports", with that cheap tarp material floor and everything). As for sleeping in your vehicle, don't do it unless you've done it before and like it! I sleep in my Jeep on my annual Thanksgiving trip to Eugene, OR every year, but it's miserable. I do it because i drive until I'm tired, and I'm not paying $100 to crash for 4 hours before driving again.

For something that's supposed to be fun, have enough shelter to be comfortable. I have a big cheap tent and an EZ-up from Dicks and think it's the best setup ever, but obviously, other people think their setup is the best ever too.

Ignore my pants on the roof.

SHELTER EXPANDED: You'll want a cot+camp pad, or an air mattress, and layers of warm clothes. I don't generally trust air mattresses because they always seem to go flat in the middle of the night, but the ground is a super powerful heatsink and will suck you cold so don't sleep on the ground. I do use sleeping bags, but sometimes I feel they are over-rated. Inside a tent, a bunch of blankets are cheaper and work just as good or even better, since they don't restrict your movement and you can bunch them up where you feel they'll do the most good. If I didn't have a sleepingbag+cot&pad, I would totally do this trip with an air mattress and bunch of blankets! Since this trip is so early in the year, I'm planning my family to be inside sleeping bags that are also under blankets. (Main advantage of the sleeping bag is that it protects me from ice-cold girlfeet seeking warmth!):eek:

FOOD: Camp food doesn't have to be (and really shouldn't be) a bunch of freeze-dried dog turds with lasagna style food coloring in it. There's thousands of camp food ideas on the internet and this trip is a perfect chance to get them a try! I always cook too much anyways, but I like it that way. I use a gasoline camp stove, but there's nothing wrong with propane or charcoal. In Colorado, you never know when there'll be a burn-ban, so I don't recommend "campfire" as the primary choice for cooking.



COMMS: I know this gets pushed here a lot, but it's for a good reason. Get your Technician License for ham radio. It's 1000 times better than CB or GMRS (those walkie talkies that brag about how many miles they could reach if you used them in the vacuum of space), and then you can use APRS, which is the bees knees. If/when the group splits up, they can still keep track of eachother and get a message across through text.

GOOD ATTITUDE: This doesn't mean doing what I say when I say it and with a smile on your face. It means getting out there! Don't let the weather stop you! The snow/rain will stop and the sun WILL come out! This is Colorado, it's what it does! How much better will your story be? How much more accomplished will you feel? Don't look for excuses, you'll find them and you don't need them. You need fresh air and the excitement of being somewhere for the first time.

In closing, the purpose is to go new places and finding new things, but really, there's no better measure of success than finding a place you want to come back to, again and again.:)


EDIT>>> For one last thing that's very specific to me but imparative: Regardless of what I say is in this cooler, always assume that it's straight tequila. You've been warned, so it's your own fault now!
 
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REDONE

Active Member
I'm probably going to chop this trip up. Do Sand Creek and John Martin a few weekends earlier since it really does follow Texas weather patterns more than the rest of CO, and use it as a shake down. Then do the New Mexico and San Juan portion as a 3-day, 18-20th (Fri/Sat/Sun) trip for those not going to OX. This eliminates a whole lot of interstate miles (and hours of dull pavement) crammed into the original.
Those that can leave Friday morning, follow I-25, hit the Ludlow site on the way down, Stop at Cold Beer for lunch, then a solid un-rushed afternoon of off-road exploring to find camping in Carson Nat Forest. It's only 3.5hrs of highway driving from Denver to Cold Beer (which is either Colfax, NM or Dawson, NM depending on the map, but the only thing there declares itself Cold Beer, NM).

Those that have to leave later Friday (snow days extend the school year/Some have Friday Finals/Some just can't take a full day of PTO) can still rush down as soon as they are able on Friday. It's 5-6 hours from metro Denver. We can put an APRS tag up to APRS.fi that anyone can see to find our final campsite. There's both 2-3 bars each for Verizon and ATT in Questa, which would be along the way for anyone taking the fastest paved route.
Saturday would remain unchanged. Those with road vehicles can spend the morning in Taos (there really is a ton to see, but after 2hrs I get my fill), those that don't can continue off-road exploring in a northwesterly direction, with a rendezvous in San Juan, CO and convoy to the San Juan State Wildlife Area.
Sunday is also unchanged, chose your own adventure. There's a lot of ways home, and this gives everyone the chance to see something nifty, from Royal Gorge, to the Arkansas Headwaters, or even just more backroads and trails.
 
Interested, and I'll put this on my calendar. My style seems to line up with yours, I'm wheeling a daily driver and more for overland than rock crawling.
 

REDONE

Active Member
Definitely! Once the Trailhawk is paid off, I'll design some portal reduction drop spindles to fit 33s and wheel the snot out of it, but at the same time, I'll get my wife something bigger to DD, and we'll probably use it for family adventures and I'll still not be hardcore, haha!

I defnitely still have some research to do. Turns out that whole area I wanted to explore outside Cold Beer (overlay in pink) is Ted Turners private guest ranch. The cheapest accomodation is $1500 a night, so I don't think we can afford any gate codes.:eek:


There's some room to move between the pink and light blue, but I'll check it better on google earth and make sure I don't need to adjust track!
 

REDONE

Active Member
Got a fancy idea! My wife was an engineer on a project in that part of Carson Nat Forest (Eagle Rock Lake), which is why we want to go explore it better. She knows the rangers for that district, so I will try to get some clarification on MVUM. There's no mvum available online for any of Carson, but if you follow NM-204 north out of Cimmaron, NM, it turns into FS-1910. Looking at it on google earth it looks like it gets pretty gnarly! If we camp along 1910, those who want to wheel can come from the gnarly south, and those who leave late Friday can come from the easy north. By gnarly, I mean it looks like the road dissappears in places and I can see downed trees that may or may not have been cleared since those images were taken.:)
http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/eagle-rock-lake-in-questa-restocked-with-trout-and-ready-for-fishing/

EDIT to add the mvum. They were sneaky but I found it.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_MEDIA/stelprd3845858.pdf
 
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Jim

Member
Like you we are not into driving rough trails just for the sake of driving rough trails. We enjoy the history side of things and appreciate you building that into the trip.
We are a definite maybe for the Carson NF leg. The maybes are: (1) copilot getting a Friday medical appt rescheduled, and (2) The as yet unknown date for the Top of Texas Regional Championship.
The "Cold Beer" roadhouse out there in the middle of nowhere is a local icon and is reported to have very good food.
 

Jim

Member
I defnitely still have some research to do. Turns out that whole area I wanted to explore outside Cold Beer (overlay in pink) is Ted Turners private guest ranch. The cheapest accomodation is $1500 a night, so I don't think we can afford any gate codes.:eek:
There's some room to move between the pink and light blue, but I'll check it better on google earth and make sure I don't need to adjust track!
You and other history buffs might want to check out the history of the Maxwell Land Grant and the Colfax County War. Very interesting stuff and it contains the roots of Ted Turners NM empire.
https://www.legendsofamerica.com/nm-maxwell.html
The Legends of America website has a wealth of historical info and interesting places to go.
 

REDONE

Active Member
Defnitely! My maternal family settled the town of Coal Creek in Fremont County, CO (named for the same John C. Freemont from your article), and paternal family settled the (now seasonal ghost) town of San Isabel, CO (as ice farmers selling to the Rio Grande Railroad). Last time through San Isabel, my family name was still on the Church (Faber Chapel). I absolutely love that region of CO/NM, but it's very hard to justify trips through the area because so much private property restricts access, and aside from a few memorials and landmarks, there's really not much to see. I'm hoping that going so early in the year will drum up interest since all the stereotypical Rocky Mountain camping will still be freezing at night, if not outright buried in snow.
 

Jim

Member
We had a place in Canon City until the recent move to Raton.
Coal Creek eh? Wonder if it was that Coal Creek the New Riders of the Purple Sage had in mind when they wrote 'Dirty Business':