It’s that time of year again. School is out, the temperature is rising, vacation time burning a hole in my pocket, yup, it’s time for our annual camping trip. Since about three years ago we’ve kind of made it a yearly tradition to take at least three days and spend some time at Ridgway State Park. If you don’t know Ridgway SP is located between Montrose Colorado and Ridgway Colorado and is just off of Hwy 550, it’s really quite hard to miss.
Each year we go it seems like there is always some event that makes it memorable. Most of the time it is a weather related event. The first year we went was the beginning of June, or was it February? No it was truly June but it felt like February. That year parkas and never ending campfires was the soup of the day. The fishing was ok if you could withstand the near freezing wind-chill and the long cold nights were just that, long and cold.
The second year we thought we’d try a little later and opted for the beginning of July in hopes that summer would have kicked in by then. The weather was fabulous…if you love rain! Over the course of the three days we probably only had four hours when it wasn’t raining and the lightning was so bad it woke all the dead. During the short times that it wasn’t raining the wind was blowing so bad that the neighbors almost acquired a new tent. I did realize that the inside floor holds water far better than the roof repels the rain.
In an effort to pick a time when it was warm and dry but not blistering hot we decided to try the middle ground and go towards the end of July. the weather was extremely nice other than being a little warm during the afternoons. Of course we still had to contend with the ever present wind that would always blow your plate out of your hand or tip over your drink. this year I had a new event to deal with. Birds. I was always under the impression that birds roosted at night but I guess the flock that was in the tree above out tent didn’t get to go to bed memo because ALL NIGHT LONG they chirped tweeted and whistled so loud I didn’t sleep a wink. After not sleeping the night before and running all over the park I figured as exhausted as I was there would be nothing that could keep me awake the second night. Guess what, I was wrong. The wind decided it wanted to play and apparently blew all the birds out of the tree and apparently wanted a new tent also because it tried pretty hard to blow ours away. Luckily it didn’t succeed.
There are over fourteen miles of hiking trails located within the park ranging from less than a quarter mile to about three and a quarter miles one way. The second year we stayed there i hiked the short but scenic Mule Deer Meadow Trail the first day and tackled the longest trail in the park, The Enchanted Mesa Trail which weighs in at about three and a quarter miles one way from our campsite. the Enchanted Mesa trail is a “must do” if you visit the park. This year I was able to knock out four more trails, The Forest Discovery Nature Trail, The Cookie Tree Trail, Pinyon Park Trail and the Twin Fawn Trail.
Another memorable event happened this year while I was hiking the Cookie Tree Trail. The trail begins at the visitors center and follows the lake towards Ridgway and kind of ends near the Dallas Creek area. I had made it to the end and just refilled my water bottle when I looked up and seen a young buck running along the lake side of the wildlife fence. The little fellow ran right past me and down the trail I just came from. I thought that was pretty neat so I started back going the same way the deer ran keeping my eye out to see if he found a way through the fence. After i got a ways down the trail I looked out in the lake and lo and behold, there was that deer swimming out towards the middle of the lake, apparently trying to get to the other side I assume. the poor thing was about a quarter of the way across the lake. After watching him struggling through the waves for a bit I watched as some people in a boat raced over and got in front of him which made him turn towards a safe looking place on the shore. I feel that as exhausted as that poor deer looked when he ran past me I think he would have drowned if he continued trying to get to the other side.
the next day we packed up camp and headed back to Grand junction with another annual camping trip in the books and wondering what kind of adventures will happen next year.