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6-17-09 004_edited-1-2
Camping in the Mountains


7/30 to 8/1/10, San Juan Mountains, CO - Few things compare with taking a camping trip to the mountains, complete with some fantastic people, horses a wagon and a wild and remote camping spot.

Friday morning (7/30) Melissa, her two girls (Hannah, age 13 & Maggie, age 8) and I loaded up the wagon, threw some saddles on extra horses and headed west for the San Juan Mountains.  Our goal was the lower end of the Terrance Reservoir, 21 miles away. 

The lads were well rested and eager to do some traveling.  I had Bob and Bill hitched, with the wagon in Mountain Travel Mode (the trailer was left at the farm).  Doc had a saddle on and was ponied behind the wagon. Hannah enjoyed riding one of Melissaís saddle horses.

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Driving through open range country on the west side of the San Luis Valley.  Our goal was the mountains in the distance.

The San Luis Valley is fairly flat and an easy pull. About 8 miles into the trip, we passed just south of one of the few Amish communities that exists west of the Mississippi River.

The wagon makes a perfect centerpiece for a camping trip of this nature. It provides a lot of creature comforts and carries quite a bit of gear.  Itís also offers a relaxing way of travel.

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Little Maggie enjoying her seat next to her mom, as she drives the team.

After traveling 15 miles, we were into the foothills and winding our way along the Alamosa River. The valley floor is quite lush, with fairly steep canyon walls to the side.  Not long after entering the Alamosa River Valley, the grass and rabbit brush of the San Luis Valley give way to spruce and aspen trees. Coincidentally, several Bighorn sheep were spotted in this area during the Sheep Count, the day before.

The trip was easy for the team, until we started to approach, then cross the large earthen dam for the reservoir.  Leading up to the dam the horses had to get right into their collars to pull the wagon to the top.

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Maggie, taking a little rest with her mom, as we tooled down the road. You can see the camping gear piled in the back of the wagon.

Our camping spot was just the other side of the dam, with the river outflow and cataract below us, and the reservoir above us. This is a very remote location that is seldom visited.  We didnít see anyone else at all for the next two days.

After setting up camp and cooking supper, we built I fire and engaged in two, time honored traditions of American camping; verbalizing how much we hate rabbits - to keep the smoke away, and roasting marshmellows to include in our Ďsmoresí.

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Approaching the foothills, with my shoeless feet resting in the foreground.

Saturday morning, we started off with a hike down to the outflow from the dam. It was a pretty amazing sight.  We carried the fishing poles down below, but cliffs prevented us from hiking down river to try our luck. So after taking a few pictures and enjoying the site, we hiked back over the damn to do a little fishing.

The fish werenít biting, but the girls had a good time and got a chance to practice their casts.

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Maggie and Hannah at the base of the Terrance Reservoir Dam.

Saturday afternoon, the four of us saddled up the three draft horses and a saddle horse and went for a horseback ride. Everybody had a great time, but we cut the trip a little short when a thunderstorm started moving.  Itís a pretty good idea not to be riding a horse with steel shoes on ridge lines during a thunderstorm. So it was back to the wagon for a card game.

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Some happy campers

Sunday morning we broke camp, harnessed and saddled up the horses and headed for home. The lads were feeling frisky and trotted much of the way.  With a light wagon and high spirited horses, we pulled back into the farm by 2 pm. 

If ever there was a really nice three day camping trip; then this was it!

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Hannah fishing, while Maggie enjoys playing on the shore of the lake.

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Melissa, Hannah, Maggie and I out for a ride.