bailing on the original plan we all drove to the closest gas station.
Chocolate milk was called for – lots of it. And food. And a plan – the
house was under major construction and no place for a 23 month old – so
we still needed to stay out of the house for as close to the 5-6 nights
We decided to head south to Salida with the intent of finding dispersed camping. By the time we made it around construction detours and down to town it was nearly 6pm. We had no idea where we were camping and still at the minimum would have to stock up on water. My son was also getting super cranky and we were both starving.
I ended up super lucky. Our good friends have this amazing condo just off downtown Salida. It’s typically booked out months in advanced on AirBnB but that one night it was free! We slept in a bed, took a half ass shower, and watched a sleepy mountain town wake up. We went and spent some time at the local gear shop. The people there were awesome giving recommendations on spots to camp and helping me find a reasonably priced day pack (because of course I already have one that I left at home as I was supposed to be backpacking). We also made sure to grab a big jug of extra water!
We cleaned up our friend’s condo and spent the rest of the morning checking out the river and a little lake. The water was still crazy high – sidewalk was literally under water. Coming up on nap time we started heading out to a place to camp – out in the middle of nowhere land. Little man fell asleep! YAY! I ran into a forest ranger on our way out. She herself has kids and gave us an awesome tip where to find a campsite safe for the wee man.
While he slept I set up camp. Once he woke we explored around, climbed some random hills to get some views, and lots of playing in the car like a playground. We made dinner in a camp stove which he thought was so much fun and then took a late night walk back up one of the hills to watch the sun set over the mountains before heading to bed. Bedtime was well – hell. He had been bored. Exploring around camp wasn’t enough fun for him and it all backfired at bedtime. We eventually got to sleep sometime after 10 pm (his normal bedtime is closer to 8 pm).
The next day I had planned to hike what I thought was a trail we were camped right by. Turned out to actually just be a section forest service had blocked off to motor vehicles as people had been illegally shooting targets in the ravine. We decided to follow the ravine up and see what we could find, maybe summit another random hill. Truth was mentally I just wasn’t there. Little man wasn’t happy. I was hating every minute. I found the summit of the saddle between two hills. I had phone service so I called my man. I mentally was just in a horrible place- feeling like a failure, wanting to be backpacking, not knowing how to deal with my son. He encouraged me to try just one more night in another spot. We hiked around for a little while longer- more or less just sauntering for the views (the Collegiate Peaks are just stunning).
Then we packed up and went back into town. We went back to the gear shop asked more about camping places, got a map because silly me forgot to the day before, found lunch, and went to the park at the river. Then we found a grocery store and stocked up. Fresh breakfast options as my packed oatmeal was accidentally my three year old bags I thought I had long tossed, trash bags because my car was a mess, chocolate milk for immediate consumption, chocolate pudding, tons of water, a cooler full of ice just for cooling off, and a couple random things to be camp toys for the wee man.
We headed up towards Buena Vista with plans to stay near Ruby Mountain. The official campsite was full but I had always wanted to hike its neighbor Bald Mountain so we headed up the road that heads to the trailhead. That was not the greatest idea. That road sucks, just barely up it I realize it’s only the width of one car with drop offs on both sides for at least a good while and it was starting to get sketchy. I was in a place I could safely turn around, so I parked and walked up a bit to see how the road really looked. Honestly I probably could have made it but I didn’t want to risk it with baby and dog in tow.
Ultimately we ended up packing up the car in a manner we could sleep in it and driving towards home. We parked at one of my favorite trail heads and slept what little we could manage. Next day we managed a 7 mile hike but everyone was just too exhausted and ready to go home. Ultimately I still didn’t manage to stay out of the house as long as we needed to, but it was ok.