Last weekend Jon and I packed up Bivy and the van and headed towards Durango. I had been wanting this trip for over a year, and now that it's accessible to us there was no time to waste! Jon had never been, so imagining him seeing the San Juans in all their glory was pretty exciting. I remember going to Durango as a kid many times and the prospect of going now was rad. That's how everything is, right? You have these special places when you're younger that mean so much to you. And if you're lucky enough to return as an adult, these places can be magical in a totally different way. How I described this wonderful place to him was: everything Colorado has to offer all in one place. And upon arrival it became clear that my memories held more than true. Durango is breathtaking.
We left immediately after work and planned to stop after a few hours and sleep in the van. That way, we'd have a super short drive the next morning and some sleep to carry us through the day. We parked somewhere in the Rio Grande National Forest. We had planned on a certain camp ground for the night, but to our (mild) surprise, all the camp areas are still closed for the season. Not a huge deal. We just parked the van and got comfy. Both of us slept very little- fun fact. It is hard to #vanlife with a Saint Bernard and an Astrovan. That being said, Bivy loves the van life and took to it immediately.
We left from Rio Grande National Forest at 3:30am. Sometimes when we sleep poorly, the trick is to just get moving. Especially when we don't have a basecamp set up. This generally goes well, aside from some tricky mountain driving in the pitch black wilderness. But luckily we didn't have much of that to deal with. The sun started to come up as we neared Bayfield and we were really pleased to see big mountains and big elk. We also drove by a very cute fox and some fluffy deer. It seems like the majority of wildlife on this trip was from the van, which is not wonderful- but I'll take it! During the peak of sunrise we arrived in Vallecito- the place we planned to set up our little weekend home. We found some beach front camp space on a large body of water. Surrounded by rolling hills from six to noon, and large snowy peaks from noon to five. Between five and six, it was us, nestled in a patch of woods with trees so tall and green. The scent of pine was thick and glorious. The air was cool and crisp with a slight breeze that welcomed us with love. We set up camp, had some thick, black coffee and once again, hit the road. This time we would be heading right into Durango for our first hike together in this part of the state.
We both felt pretty sleepy, so we did not bite off a large hike. And with a giant puppy, we need to keep mileage under 8 or so for any hike. Or day, really. It can be a massive challenge and a big bummer. Especially because Jon and I really do well with high mileage days and we prefer them. But alas, that just isn't in the cards until Mr. Biv is a little older. His hips will thank us when he's 7.
We reached the trailhead early. The day was already heating up considerably. The wildflowers were lovely and the cactus were blooming. There were mountain lion prints galore and even a few bear tracks. When we reached the high part of our hike, we were surrounded by many large peaks and snow-capped summits. It was what I expected to see and I was so thankful for such a view. Part of me, however, was pretty disappointed we weren't able to be ON those peaks. But in time we will be, and hey, a view like that is nothing to complain about. Ever.
On our hike down we talked about our future and how crazy it was that we were here- in this magnificent place, surrounded by the things we love. With each other. And with our new fur baby. It's the three of us in our own little world. And that alone is amazing, lucky and beautiful. What gratitude. What a stroke of perfection. I could go on about that forever. The hard times and easy times, bad times and good times. Just to have a partner in these things. It's everything. That strikes us a lot in the wild.
When we returned to camp we ate some lunch and practiced casting our new Tenkara rods. I retired to the hammock for a bit of reading. It was peaceful to say the least. My guys down on the beach while I relaxed to a gentle breeze, surrounded by mountains and trees older than I can really understand. And that is how the rest of our day went. A lot of mini explorations around camp, but mostly taking it very easy and enjoying the moment. This trip felt like a vacation. A real vacation. Which is not a feeling one typically gets from quick and packed getaways. On this trip, we had no plans, no goals, no work. It was just to relax and soak up some sun. Which we did.
The next morning, we had nothing planned, but rose early and headed towards Durango. What ended up happening was unexpected. Like I had mentioned earlier, Jon had never been to this part of the state. And he really had never seen a true mountain town. Up hidden away in the vast mountains. So we took to the van and headed up the mountain roads to Silverton. The views were breathtaking and special. The snowpack was thick and the sky was blue. We explored the small town and imagined living there some day. Which I think is a pretty good goal. But that's just me :)
We stopped for a hike on our way back through the mountains. It was short, but just enough to delight us and excite us. We got back to camp later in the afternoon and relaxed some more. Soaking up all of the scenery and fresh scents. It was peace.
We left for home early the next morning. Bivy didn't want to leave and neither did we. But alas; we did. We drove all day. Talking about our favorite sights and plans for the next time we head south west. Biv will be older. We'll do bigger things. We have time. And this is our home. Sometimes you just need to rest, renew and enjoy the easy things. And that is what this mini-trip was about.