Thank you for so generously inviting us to camp a few days in your backyard! You didn’t notice us? That’s because you own more land than you could possibly see in your lifetime, even were you only 16. “You”, of course, is plural; and a grammar Nazi would insist that I write “we”. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have custody of over 600 million acres of Federal land. It has always been fashionable to bash government employees, but from our experience those guys and gals do a pretty good job. We are boondocking on USFS land 18 miles west of Durango, and even though I really enjoyed our privately managed campground at Junction Creek, this is even better. It’s free, just as beautiful, sparsely used, and the road in won’t loosen your fillings.
Memorial Day weekend books up fast, and we have spent way too many of them at Wal-Marts. Kat landed reservations for Sunday and Monday, but it was No Soap for Friday and Saturday nights. She found our current USFS site from Watsons Wander, a fine full-time RV/Airstream blog that you should check out. Tim Watson works on-line, so it’s no surprise that we have four bars of 4G LTE data here, not to mention good cell service. It’s Colorado, but we are in a grassy meadow with a snow-capped mountain right out there grinning down at us. Yesterday we had a couple of mild hailstorms whose ice was small enough to pass for sleet; there was no damage and we now know that we did not leave the south too soon.
We hiked a mile or so up the very good dirt road toward Madden Peak this morning. There were at least a dozen varieties of wild flowers, all kinds of birds, and a cold, clear stream fed by snowmelt. The quiet was broken by the roar of a pair of chainsaws, manned as we would later learn, by Mennonites. The Forest Service requires permits to cut wood here, and I like to think they have them. They could however, do a better job of cutting the wood they don’t want into campfire-sized pieces. Isn’t that the Christian thing to do?
When we return to Durango this will be our park of choice. Its location is about three miles west of Target Tree Campground, also run by the USFS. Madden Peak is between Durango and Mancos, Colorado on US 160. Look for a brown sign announcing Madden Peak. You will cross some private property via a USFS easement, and perhaps half a mile in you might spot a weathered sign “316”. That’s the forest road’s number, and when you see it you know you are on the right track. Look for tire tracks and stone fire rings. Find them, and you have arrived!
Here’s a Pete Seeger song that goes with the whole BLM/USFS theme. I have used it before, but not this version with old Pete, Judy Collins, and Arlo Guthrie.